Dragon Ball Z was one of the bigger anime franchises from the 90s. If you donâ€™t remember the show, it was easily identifiable by itâ€™s characters, forever straining and groaning as they powered up their attacks - often for episodes at a time (or so it seemed).
If you didnâ€™t love Dragon Ball Z, often youâ€™d be in the Pokemon camp instead. Iâ€™ll be honest, I was in the Pokemon camp. So I was very surprised to pick up Dragon Ball Z for Kinect and find a game that was curiously entertaining, and rather a blast with a group of friends.
In Dragon Ball Z for Kinect, you take on the role one of several good guys from the popular TV series, depending on the battle. The story mode is where the game really focuses, allowing you to play through the entire Dragon Ball Z saga, from A - Z. It follows the TV series closely, but the game focuses on the battles and skips from one to the next. Once youâ€™ve completed the primary story, you can repeat any of the battles from the single player story mode, and each of the battles is uniquely different.
What is great, though, is that a lot of the flavour text is present, with the characteristic groaning and hilarious comments from the villains all included. Fans of the series will love this stuff and, as an added bonus, if you need to rest from your battles, the game includes an episode of the anime called â€śEpisodes of Bardockâ€ť, which is pretty entertaining.
As far as mechanics go, Dragon Ball Z for Kinect is primarily played from the first person perspective. The only time the game pulls out of it is during particular action scenes or storyline sequences that connect the various battles.
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect does a great job of helping you learn the necessary moves, thanks to a solid and relatively pain-free tutorial. Overall, the Kinect interface is up there with the best, with most moves registering well and with very little going unnoticed. You can punch, kick, uppercut, or fire powerful shots; with a small amount of practice it was all relatively straightforward.
You primarily need to choose from a range of moves in various scenes, with some battles needing to be finished on some kind of a powermove, such as Kamehameha. You can move backward or forward to further mix things up, or jump to really gain some distance on your opponent. The moves available are shown on the right of the screen, and while this may seem forced, or overly guided, it works well, and encourages you to do a range of attacks - rather than becoming overly focused on simple punches and kicks.
Graphically the game looks great with some excellent animations, and a true Dragon Ball Z look and feel. It really makes the time spent powering up worthwhile when you plant a massive crater in the earth, unleashing your powerful Kamehameha attack.
The greatest criticism is the difficulty, which feels too easy. You can increase it, but nonetheless it is a real shame that the developers didnâ€™t put in any kind of multiplayer mode or something to really boost the challenge. Despite that, the game makes is great for a group to sit around, watch, play and enjoy - even if only one player can play at a time.
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect also includes the ability to scan in QR codes. A few titles have done this in the past, such as Viva Pinata, but with little success. In Dragon Ball Z the codes theoretically allow you to unlock special characters and power-ups. Unfortunately, just how and where these codes might be found wasnâ€™t shared (or even if these will make it to New Zealand).
Overall, Dragon Ball Z for Kinect proved to be surprisingly impressive. Graphically it really pulls off the anime to video game jump, and the gameplay matches well by allowing you to play through the original storyline.
As you primarily focus on one battle to the next, a bit more value could have been added by a solid multiplayer mode, or even allowing more players to play at once on the Kinect. But for fans of the series, or for those with younger children in the house, Dragon Ball Z will no doubt provide a number of hours of solid entertainment.
For those older gamers, thereâ€™s something in this for them as well, given the Dragon Ball Z feel and style remains well intact. Just remember that, given this is a Kinect game, stretching and pacing yourself are truly important, lest you pull a muscle...