Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Chun Soft
The idea of a Dragon Ball Z Kinect game could certainly be cool, if the Kinect hardware were a bit more capable at picking up precise, quick movements with no lag. And if the developers gave it a little more thought and effort than just having players simulate the events of the series through a series of one on one fights. Dragon Ball Z for Kinect, however, is anything but cool. It’s a tedious slog through a highlight reel of the well-known, and well-tread, Dragon Ball Z saga, starting with Goku’s encounter with his brother Raditz, and ending on the Buu saga.
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect gives you a first person view spread across four chapters, covering the Saiyan, Frieza, Cell, and Buu saga timelines. Each chapter is divided across a series of fights, featuring fan favorite opponents like Captain Ginyu, Android 18, and more. Most of the big names show up here, and if they’re not featured in the fights via the campaign mode, they’re probably unlocked as playable characters for the optional Score Attack mode. Either way, one of the few things Dragon Ball Z for Kinect does right, is that it gives fans a sizeable roster of characters to toy around with if they can get past the middling gameplay.
Where Dragon Ball Z for Kinect starts to fall apart is when you actually advance into a fight. Each encounter is filled with dialogue and exposition in true Dragon Ball Z fashion, featuring a truncated take on events from the episodes that featured those fights. You can opt to skip through it, thankfully, which is welcomed considering so much of this material has been covered numerous times before.
When the fight is ready to begin, you’ll square off against your opponent, and strike the air with your fists in order to either fire off projectiles if your opponent is at range, or land blows with your firsts if your enemy is in your face. Either way you’ll look like a fool, and quickly realize that while the Kinect knows that you’re moving your hands in front of you, it doesn’t have the capability to pick up on fierce, quick jabs in a way that makes any sense. There’s some semblance of a combo system present in Dragon Ball Z for Kinect, in that if you slow your punches down a bit, you can register uppercuts, right and left hooks, and even jabs. But one of the core components to doing well requires you to quickly string hits together in order to score an extended animation sequence for more damage, and to fill that meter quickly, you’re pretty much required to flail your arms around as fast as possible with little regard to style.
And that last comment pretty much sums up Dragon Ball Z for Kinect’s gameplay in its entirety. I’d venture to say that I spent ¾’s of the time just swinging my arms in the air, and the remainder was spent participating in quick time events to dodge or block incoming enemy attacks. These segments were also hit or miss, as the game seems to have a hard time deciding if you’re blocking or punching anytime you start to move your arms. More problematic is the ability to charge up your special attacks, like Goku’s patented Kamehameha, which requires you to take on a particular stance and hold it for an extended amount of time. The placement needed to get the Kinect to register that stance is so ridiculously precise and touchy that it almost makes it worthless to even bother. And the charge time can be ridiculously long, so much so that you’ll often feel like you’re getting better results by just punching the air some more, even if it means taking a little longer to finish the fight.
There are a couple positives that the game has going for it, even if they pale in comparison to the core gameplay issues mentioned above. One is the inclusion of the Bardock episode, detailing the events surrounding Goku’s father. As a Dragon Ball Z fan there’s a pretty good chance you’ve either seen or own this in one form or another, but it’s a nice addition nonetheless. And the quality of it is pretty much on par with most HD animated offerings, and it’s also subbed instead of dubbed, which is also great.
Visually Dragon Ball Z for Kinect isn’t a bad looking game either, adopting the cel-shaded look that’s been a trademark style for a lot of Dragon Ball Z games this gen and last. And the voice over work features a lot of familiar, returning voice actors that long-time fans will probably appreciate, provided you care for the English dub at all.
But those scant few things do little to outweigh the multitude of issues that the game has. Overall, I found it be a failure in bringing the excitement of the combat featured in Dragon Ball Z home for Kinect owners. It doesn’t do much more than give you a limited upper body cardio workout, tire out your arms, and let you watch the same recycled content that has filled Dragon Ball Z videogames for years now. I much prefer the more traditional fighting experiences offered by games like the Budokai series than this mess of a game, and highly urge you to avoid this one regardless of how big a fan of Dragon Ball Z you might be.