I was a fan of Dragon Ball Z back in the days of Toonami. I guess you could say I grew up with it. I was a big gamer in those days as well, so, you can imagine how I felt with Dragon Ball Z games. To be honest, some of the games were decent, but most felt a little flat as far as game play goes. Cut to 2010, Toonami is no more; the show is finished, well with the exception on DBZ: Kai, and now the PSP is getting another Dragon Ball Z game. Man, I’m really showing my geeky side here… Here’s Dragon Ball Z Tenkaichi Tag Team.
The game is essentially a 3D arena fighting game where you take on the role of your favorite DBZ character and duke it out. There is a story mode that will take you through the entire series of the show as well as a quick match with the AI and multiplayer battles.
The story mode is where you’ll do most of your playing. Here, you are playing through each saga with specific characters that pertain to what happened in the comic. So during the Namek saga you’ll be playing mostly with Krillin, Gohan, and Vegeta, during the Majin Buu saga, you’ll mainly be playing as Goku, Vegeta, and adult Gohan, and so on and so forth. The story mode consists of you taking control of a certain character and moving along a play field. There are enemies to fight and areas to visit on the world map. If you run into an enemy on the map, you begin a battle. When you visit locations, sometimes you’ll be tasked with a certain objective. Usually, these objectives are to seek out certain enemies on the map and defeat them. The story mode is all about getting D points. You can use your D points to level up your characters and give them upgrades.
You are graded on each battle you fight. Depending on how well you do in battle like landing hits, using special moves, and how quickly you defeat the enemies. This is what determines your grade. The better the grade, the more D points you’ll receive after the battle.
The battles usually play out on a 2 vs. 2 match. Where you control the party leader and the AI controls your partner. Of course, there are times in the series where Goku and company were alone during fights, so you may be on your own for some battles. You attack with the square button and use ki attacks with triangle. You can combo them into each other to make some rather unique attacks. You can block with circle, holding down the L bumper will charge up you energy meter. You can over charge it and become almost invincible for a short time. The energy meter is what allows you to use your special attacks like the classic Kamehameha attack and Galick Gun. When using your special attacks, you can hit another button at the designated time to make it a bit stronger. Each character has an ultimate attack that can be use when your energy meter is over charged. When you hit with these attacks, there is a small mini game where you must repeatedly on the circle button to win the damage battle.
The problems with the combat are that it feels so stale. I can honestly say, anyone can play this game that knows how to hold the L button and hit square a bunch of times. If you over charge your energy meter, you can go into an infinite loop of physical attacks until the over charge is drained. I just kept doing that over and over again with the occasional special attack. It’s just far too easy. Even with two enemies to fight at a time, the AI just rolls over and dies for you. The camera is halfway broken. It can’t really keep up with the action so you’re sometimes left not knowing were the enemy is and either looking straight up in the air or looking straight down to the ground. The story is there with a good amount of decent voice acting with all the well known actors from the show, but if you have seen the show or played any of the games in the past few years, you know what’s going to happen, and you kind of don’t really care anymore.
The visuals are rather nice for the PSP. All environments and characters are colorfully cel-shaded and go along well with the anime theme. The special attacks look really nice and take up the entire screen when performed. The art style itself is still impressive after all this time.
The game does offer multiplayer through Ad hoc. This is where the game shines a little. You can have up to 4 players each with their own favorite character and duke it out with each other. With people actually trying to win the fight, it can get rather enjoyable. You can double team opponents with your special attacks and deal some major damage as well as help out your partners. There is some strategy involved in the multiplayer.
There is also a survival mode were you take on wave after wave of opponents until you are defeated, as well as a mode where you can place your own battle requirements and rules. All of these can be done with one friend against the AI.
Even with over 70 characters in the roster, you’ll still be wondering in single player what the point is. You can honestly take the weakest character in the DBZ universe and beat the stuffing out of Super Saiyan level 3 Goku. The other small problem I had with the game is the fact that if you place upgrades for regular Goku, those upgrades don’t apply to Super Saiyan Goku. It’s like the transformed version of characters are their own person. Sill there is a ton of upgrades and characters to unlock through the story that you feel like you have to play through it.
I think there is still room for a DBZ fighting game. Tag Team may be a small step in the right direction, but it is no leap by any means. If you have played a Tenkaichi game before, you know all of what to expect. The game play and storytelling won’t knock your socks, but it will satisfy your craving for a little more DBZ on the go. I would still have to only recommend this title to the hardcore DBZ fans or the people wanting to get a little more out of the storyline. Fighting game fans may want to steer clear of Tag Team, because with the exception of the multiplayer, you won’t get a real challenge out of the game.
Review copy provided by publisher.