Any fan of Shonen Jump’s Magazine to Graphic Novels to anime are familiar with the characters from Battle Stadium D.O.N. (Dragonball Z, One Piece, Naruto.) Ever wanted Luffy to pound the snot out of Goku? Ever wanted Piccolo to send an energy ball up Sasuke’s piehole? Well, here’s your chance. Developed by Eighting, who developed the popular multiplayer fighter Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen! 4, Battle Stadium is a fast, fun, combo filled fighter that reminiscent of Super Smash Brothers.
It’s a Japan Only release right now, so if you don’t mind a bit of translation delay in reading menus, and you want to play the game with original voices intact.. playing the import version of this won’t pose any problems for non-Japanese speaking/reading gamers. Menu options are spoken, and since most of the words used in the menu are borrowed from English and not Japanese words, they are fairly easy to figure out what is being said. Multiplayer options are easy to choose, as the number of players is shown next to the choice.
D.O.N. has several different gameplay modes:
For Single player: Time Attack, Survival, Single player battle.
For One to Four: the usual VS. modes found in multiplayer, similar to SSBM,
and the VS. mode where items won (explained later) can be used to change fight options.
The game begins with 4 characters from each series:
One Piece: Luffy, Sanji, Zoro, and Chopper
Dragonball Z: Teen Gohan, Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo
Naruto: Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and Kakashi
Only 20 characters in total can be unlocked. How to do this will be discussed in later-
D.O.N. is a great looking game, the graphics are much like Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen! 4. Characters models are 3D, they fight on a 3D background, however interact with the background in 2D. If Luffy goes in a door on a lower level, he can come out of another door on another level, however still be on the same plane. Unlike Naruto 4-the “specials” do not go into an animation sequence-you get a picture on screen and they will say the name of the special, then the character performs it onscreen.
The game uses a power meter at the top of the screen so that you can determine the extent of the beating either being given or being administered. It is drained when you use special moves, but is refilled by beating down your opponents. The rub is the bars are connected, the winner is whoever fills the bar first.
As with SSBM, the camera will have to move around a bit to keep up with the onscreen characters, in most levels this was done very well. In some fighting games which multiples are used, the camera pans out so far that it’s difficult to tell what in the hell the characters are even doing. Most stages in D.O.N., this isn’t a problem.
Game mechanics is standard fare for PS2, press square, x, circle, etc. to perform combos, specials, jump, block, etc-not brain surgery. I did seem to me that some characters were a bit over powered **cough DBZ cough**-Controls were responsive, the reaction time between button press and character actions was also good, no tank-like character movement here. It also has the hilarious item use system used by SSBM. Personally, I like the artillery type weapons. A bomb just makes more sense in a fighting game than becoming-small.
As someone who hates getting knocked off of the screen with these types of games, I appreciate the fact that in D.O.N., Eighting decided to let the player choose where to place the character. You can even use it as an attack. No more respawing on the edge of a drop off and being promptly booted off by another player-
Unlockable characters, stages, etc..this is where D.O.N. is a bit weird. During gameplay, if you complete certain tasks, you are given coins. You then get to play a slot machine at the completion of the mission-to unlock items, characters, etc.
It appears to be completely random, you never know if you’ll get a character, stage, item, whatever. However, most players I spoke to didn’t find this to be a huge issue, neither did. With only 20 characters total, 8 are unlockable, perhaps that’s why the system to unlock them is so not user friendly. Next time Eighting, how about a few more characters to unlock?
If you like One Piece, Naruto and/or DBZ, you want a game that looks great, you want a game with simple controls, and with still very interesting gameplay, you’ll be completely happy with Battle Stadium D.O.N. Also, you’ll like it even more if you take advantage of the 4 player multi.
(I played the PS2 version of Battle Stadium D.O.N. for this review. It is also available on the Gamcube.) I apologize for any menu translation mistakes; Japanese is not my native language.