Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi Review

Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi (Available on PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-8
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Spike
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Xbox Live/PSN: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: Ultimate Tenkaichi is rated T for teen because of cartoon violence, mild blood, and mild language.  The cartoon nature of the game helps it be unoffensive. Parent discretion is the best course of action.

Plays Like: Any simple button masher.  Combos are easily chained, and the melee system is more luck-based than skill-driven.

Review Basis: Completed the story mode and sampled the others.

Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi is the nicest-looking DBZ game.  It perfectly captures the quick movement, ferociousness and splendor of the anime. Unfortunately the gameplay doesn’t hold up as well.

The Great:

The most alive Dragon Ball Z I’ve ever played. Everything is silky smooth and in many ways looks better than the original TV show.  Hand-to-hand combat plays as you remember it, and the crazy energy projectiles are even better. Fire an energy blast, and a canyon appears in the environment, displaying the power of the attack. It looks incredible.

The Good:

+ Many different modes. There’s an extremely long story mode that covers each DBZ universe, a tournament mode, and an online versus mode.  Online matches work mostly well.

+ Basic create-a-character tools unlock your imagination.  This was long-requested by the DBZ community and it works great.

+ Impressive boss battles.  Some almost fill up the entire screen.

The So-So:

+/- Simple combat allows super speed.  Because combos are so easy to execute by anyone, there should be no trouble learning the system. Button mash, and presto, a lengthy combo is achieved.  While this is great to match the show’s battle speed, there’s little satisfaction for mastering such a simple formula.

+/- Special gauges for offense and defense. When both are full, an assortment of more advanced techniques are possible.  The problem is that basic combos are so simple to pull off that there’s little incentive to experience the fighting’s true potential.

The Bad:

– Damage doesn’t stick. Tenkaichi is a sadly-scripted affair, so attack damage is quickly reversed by the environments.

– The fighters sport the same move sets. They individually look different, but handle the same.

– Reversals are about chance.  You choose one of two on-screen options, and if your selection is different than the opponent’s…your combo continues. Choose the same option, and your opponent automatically reverses and counterattacks.

– Long load times.  What’s bizarre is that there are many ways to hide loading within cutscenes, but instead the game employs dull loading screens.

The Ugly:

You should see my funky character.  Toriyama Akira would shoot me if he was aware of my mess.

The Lowdown:

Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi had the potential to be more.  It nails the look and feel of the show, but the fighting isn’t robust or deep enough to keep players entertained. Rent it and decide if you agree with my sentiments, or believe it’s a better game.

Average Score Scale: 6.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 6/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You adore everything DBZ.  The look and feel do the show justice.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: Lackluster combat leaves you craving more.

2 thoughts on “Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi Review”

  1. This games always tend to have such simple combat, which is a shame. Still, I had a lot of fun with the Budokai games on the PlayStation 2 and I’m still a fan of Dragon Ball. I’d love to see how this game looks in motion, and sometimes, a simplistic fighter is just what the doctor ordered.

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