Since the Dragon Ball Z anime series first debuted in Japan in 1989, no one could’ve predicted the sheer volume of gaming titles it’d spawn, across almost every console imaginable. And whilst I could choose any of them to delve deeper into, this week marks a special anniversary for one in particular – Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit. It’s been ten years since its release and so, you know the drill by now, let’s take a look back at how it fared.
Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit was released in Europe by Namco Bandai (now renamed Bandai Namco) for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on 6th June, 2008, after being developed by long time veterans Dimps – who had previous experience with the popular Dragon Ball Z: Budokai trilogy, amongst others. It had to fight off stiff competition from other top fighting games out at the time like Soulcalibur IV and Street Fighter IV, but still managed to be fairly well received. Burst Limit stand out from the many fighting games of the same series that had gone before it?
Remaining as a 3D fighter – something which I often found disorientating to experience – there wasn’t an awful lot that had changed in truth, with players needing to await the build up of the ki meter in order to unleash more powerful attacks, such as the infamous Kamehameha, and to transform into different forms. Those of us who were too excitable would drain the meter and be left stunned for a short while due to the fatigue aspect. It was possible to choose a partner to support in battle too, affecting proceedings in various ways. Ultimately, whoever wore down their opponent’s multiple health bars would win. Whilst the standard of the combat entertained gamers, there was a sense of disappointment in regards the game modes, or should I say the lack thereof.
Z Chronicles was clearly the one and only draw, seeing players relive a selection of the crucial battles from the Saiyan Saga, right up to the climax of the Cell Saga, in a story mode offering. You’d get to play as the character that originally won the battle in question and mid-fight you could trigger a number of Drama Pieces along the way. These would kick in when certain parameters are met, leading to a boost of sorts e.g. increased attack power or health restoration. There were also cinematic cutscenes which recreated the memorable moments of the series.
Personally though, I’d witnessed the likes of Raditz being held by Goku, whilst Piccolo would charge the Special Beam Cannon numerous times and I was a bit sick of reliving the same encounters, so the couple of exclusive alternative ‘what if’ type scenarios present on top of these moments were most welcome. They featured Bardock overcoming the mighty Lord Frieza and the Legendary Super Saiyan Broly in pursuit of Goku, leading both warriors to Earth, albeit separately.
The choice of playable warriors included the most prestigious of characters from the story arcs it covered, with favourites Goku, Vegeta and Gohan alongside the Androids, Cell and Frieza, forming a 21 fighter roster. Visually, the character models were of a good standard and the overall aesthetic helped blur that line between anime and game. Obviously, the years that followed saw much more definition brought into the designs of both the environments and characters, but for that time it looked spot on.
Although Bandai Namco continued to publish Dragon Ball games after this, Dimps took a break on the major console releases for the series – making way for Spike to take over duties for a short while – and didn’t resurface in the DB universe until XenoVerse released in 2015, making its first outing on the the next-gen consoles, Xbox One and PS4. This marked a complete overhaul in the series, focusing on introducing RPG elements to the fighting and using your own created character to influence the altered timeline of the Dragon Ball world, after the villainous Mira and Towa had been manipulating it.
The varied plot was one of few positives though and even when given the chance to amend the mistakes in 2016 with XenoVerse 2, many of the online issues persisted and the combat grew tiresome swiftly. Still, the masses of content was enough to keep fans playing for hours and hours, and who knows, if given the chance to make a third, maybe Dimps can iron out the niggling issues and freshen up the combat a tad.
The Dragon Ball games have come a long way since Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit in terms of graphics, ideas and online capabilities. I don’t expect Goku and co. to go away any time soon – even if Dimps aren’t involved, as we’ve seen recently with Dragon Ball FighterZ – and the new narratives being told in Dragon Ball Super should provide additional lore to work with for whichever developer is placed at the helm.
Do you remember Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit? Why don’t you share your memories of it with us using the comments below and let us know what you’d like to see Bandai Namco and Dimps do with the Dragon Ball series next? How do you fancy another instalment of XenoVerse, or would you prefer something entirely different?