Two years ago, Awful Waffle released a Dragon Ball Z fan game. Anyone who has been around the community awhile knows that there have been several attempts by many different authors to make Dragon Ball Z-themed games. The vast majority of them, if not all of them, were poorly designed and were not embraced by even the most hardcore DBZ fans. Waffle’s Dragon Ball Z: The Saiyan Prince was among the first of DBZ fan games to actually receive some praise.
A year and a half later, the author decides to release another Dragon Ball Z inspired game simply titled Dragon Ball Z. One should expect good things from this game considering the the bar raised from Waffle’s first title. Or would having a second fangame on the same topic be a bad idea?
Dragon Ball Z starts exactly where the show begins, at the “Saiyan Saga”. Five years after Goku wins the World Martial Arts Tournament, he decides to reunite with his old friends and trainer, Master Roshi, at the Kame House. Everyone is surprised when they find that Goku also brought his son, Gohan, along for the trip. Unfortunately, their fun ends shortly after that with the arrival of the Saiyan, Raditz, who scorns Goku for not “completing his mission”. Goku learns that Raditz is not only is his brother, but that Goku himself was sent to Earth to eradicate the human race.
To make a long story short, you and your old rival, Piccolo, decide to take out the powerful Saiyan together and save Gohan. That is where the demo ends.
The dialogue was acceptable, even though several words were misspelled. Some words were even missing completely in some areas, such as certain item descriptions, spell descriptions, etc. There really wasn’t that much dialogue available to critique besides the opening sequence. I suppose anything that is even slightly better than the english voiceovers on the TV show works for me though.
Some of the graphics look fantastic. The portraits and majority of battle sprites are very nicely done. Most of the maptiles are nothing to scoff at either. With that being said, I can’t help but think that some of the graphics are placeholders or that Waffle received help on the better graphics in the game. The difference between the author’s portrait graphics and walkabout graphics are like night and day. Regardless, the graphics are an overall huge improvement over Waffle’s The Saiyan Prince.
I’ve never been a fan of of music formats other than MIDI and BAM for OHRRPGCE games. BAMs, and especially MIDIs, just seem to fit the style of OHRRPGCE games better than what mp3s or waves can bring to the table. Dragon Ball Z has forever changed my opinion of that idea, and did a fantastic job placing each mp3 track so that it blends and fits nicely with its respective area. Some, if not all of these titles are from the TV show itself, which I thought was pretty cool. The few sound effects that I heard seemed nice, but apparently 90% of the attacks were missing them, which was a bit of a bummer.
Battles seemed to be well balanced for the most part despite the fact that the mechanics had a few flaws. The Chi abilities sucked and there was no reason to use them except for Piccolo’s Split Shot (useful against multiple foes) and Regenerate (which is pretty much required to beat Raditz at the end of the demo). Perhaps the Chi’s would grow stronger if you had a chance to take advantage of the Styles system. This system debuted in Waffle’s first game, and allowed you to pick different styles to equip depending on your roster. Each hero had a unique style that offers different stat modifiers. It was a great idea then, and it still seems to be a nice feature. Unfortunately, those who have played The Saiyan Prince may feel like they’re playing the same game as before. At least the Styles menu looks much cleaner and natural this time around.
The only huge beef I had with the combat mechanics was the Flee bug. Apparently, you can run from every battle and still gain a healthy amount of BP (which is fuel for increasing your stats). I would hope that this was not intentional because it would make fighting altogether pointless. If it is indeed a bug, then I think it could have been easily spotted before the game was released if the author cared enough to check his work.
To be completely honest, I’m not sure what to think of this game given its current state. It had some strong points (faithful story, nice graphics, good music) but it also had some faults (the same battle mechanics as the first game, a potential game-breaking bug, spelling mistakes). At this point, Dragon Ball Z feels like its in playtesting stages. I wanted this game to be awesome, I really did. Being a huge fan of the series as a young teenager, I would enjoy such a game very much, even now that I am older. The sad truth is that it needs some work, and I hope that it gets some before a full version is released.