- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
fter a decade of Japanese imports and several more years of the Atari-produced “Budokai” series, you’d think “Dragon Ball Z” fans would have finally had their fill of button-mashing fun. With the release of “DBZ: Burst Limit,” however, it’s become apparent that their thirst will never be quenched, no matter how good (or bad) the latest installment is. Thankfully, Atari’s latest fighter based on the popular anime series is the best yet – doing away with those silly scavenger hunts for capsules and Dragon Balls, and instead concentrating on what’s most important.
As fighting games go, “Burst Limit” is pretty straightforward, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to sit through a tutorial or two before you get started. With so many different attack options at your disposal, it’s simply too much to learn from the instruction manual alone. Nevertheless, anyone who’s ever played a fighting game before shouldn’t have a very difficult time getting acquainted with the set-up. The face buttons (X, Y and B) control blocking and basic attacks, while the shoulder and trigger buttons are used to perform other actions like transformations, teleportations and Ki-fueled combat moves. Your health bar is split up into several different tiers (anywhere from two to five, depending on the battle), while the fatigue bar that sits just above it fills up as you take damage, block or evade attacks. When the bar is completely full, your character is temporarily unable to move. Additionally, your Ki bar (used for unleashing special attacks) refreshes automatically, but it does so depending on the special attack you have selected. If you choose an attack that uses less Ki, your bar refills much quicker.
Fans of the series will be delighted to play through the Z Chronicles story mode, as it puts you in the middle of the greatest battles from the Saiyan, Freiza and Cell sagas, but for those who have never seen the show before, prepare to be extremely confused. None of the characters are ever properly introduced and the gaps in between each battle are never filled in. So, while non-fans might perk up at the first sight of Super Saiyan Trunks, you’ll do so without knowing that a) he’s from the future, and b) he’s Vegeta’s son. It would have been nice if Atari had included a little more exposition to the story, because otherwise, a lot of things (like Vegeta’s move to the good guys or the reappearance of Freiza) don’t make sense. And no, adding those bits in a video montage after you’ve completed the saga doesn’t count.
Much like the show, the battles can get pretty repetitive at times, and though Atari believes that they’ve countered this with the addition of “Drama Pieces” – auto-triggered events in the middle of a fight that call in partners to offer a helping hand – it’s actually the game’s Achilles heel. For starters, they’re never much help. They tend to favor the opposition more often than not (to the point that it feels like the computer is cheating just to keep up), and they interrupt the tempo of the game.
These Drama Pieces aren’t the only major issue, however. Though the three sagas included offer more than enough playtime for a weekly rental, it’s strange that Atari didn’t included playable versions of the chapters that make up the rest of the series as well. Are they already planning a sequel, and if not, why do we get canned bonus stories featuring Bardock and Brolly instead? Neither one fits very well into the main story arc, and, well, isn’t Bardock supposed to be dead? I would have been completely fine with including both in the pool of playable characters, but when they appear in place of more popular characters, you can’t help but feel cheated.
Still, despite its flaws (including an online mode that is exactly what you’d expect – nothing more, nothing less), “Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit” is a mostly solid fighter. The character animations look fantastic, and the combat hearkens back to the day of “Street Fighter II.” It’s not quite as good, but then again, nothing ever will be.