- After laying dormant for over 16 years, the Budokai Tenkaichi series makes a triumphant return with Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero.
- The trailer showcases amazing visuals, and combat elements including BT-style melee combat, high-speed counters, and ki-blast clashes.
- Sparking Zero seems to be taking mechanics from other Dragon Ball games too, but the lack of local co-op could be a real downer.
Okay, I’m pretty sure there’s no need for me to say this, but we’re talking about stuff of legends here. Even if you’re not a hardcore anime fan, I can confidently say that you’ve heard of Dragon Ball. You’ll find Goku no matter where you go, even if no other anime is prevalent there. It goes to show how impactful and popular this franchise is all over the world, and it’s no surprise that it has a solid presence in the video game department, too.
Imagine my excitement when the magnificent Budokai Tenkaichi series made a surprise comeback. Although it was only a glimpse at first, it did the trick of hyping me up. And while I waited for more info, along came TGA 2023 which became more like an E3 program with all its shocking reveals. Among those reveals was my long-awaited “more info,” as Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero took center stage and surprised us all with the epic trailer.
Budokai Tenkaichi Was The Golden Age Of Dragon Ball Games
If I go into the details of the Dragon Ball games in general, I’m certain I’ll go on and on for pages and take too much of your time, so I’ll hold myself back here and discuss the Budokai Tenkaichi games in general. The series has experimented with a wide variety of genres over the years, with some titles pretty solid, while the others quite lackluster. Still, in the seemingly unending sea of Dragon Ball games, the Budokai Tenkaichi series stands out prominently.
First came the 2D fighting Budokai series, which was pretty great and cemented this formula as the effective route. Thus, when the series changed to a 3D arena fighter in the first Budokai Tenkaichi, everyone had their doubts. And the first game wasn’t enough to subside those doubts, either. However, the second game turned things around pretty effectively. It featured an in-depth story adaptation and a big roster to experiment with, alongside improved combat.
Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is where the series became the most legendary Dragon Ball gaming adventure for me. First the story mode. Although the game skips a lot of things I believe should’ve been adapted, the battles themselves are pretty lore-accurate and feature contextual scenarios where you finish the enemies off exactly as the plot. Couple that with a complex and effective combat system yet to be surpassed and an unbelievably huge roster of characters, and you get a near-perfect Dragon Ball game.
15 years ago today DBZ: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 was released! Do you guys still like or even play this game nowadays? 👀 pic.twitter.com/sNavtLZTiv
— Hype (@DbsHype) October 4, 2022
Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero Showcases Insane Visuals As Bandai Answers Fans’ Calls
After Budokai Tenkaichi 3, the era that followed was, let’s say just fine overall. Prominent titles included Raging Blast, Ultimate Tenkaichi, and Battle of Z, but all of these were average at best. After a comparatively longer stagnation, Dragon Ball Xenoverse emerged, which started the more modern era of Dragon Ball games. Although it was technically a 3D arena fighter, the game was a lot different from the BT series and was followed up by multiple DLCs.
Next came Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, and it’s safe to say that I have very mixed feelings about this one. While it was an improvement over the first one, it was a game that has overstayed its welcome by a mile. Bandai pumped it full of DLCs, expansions, and roadmaps while fans continued to demand something fresh. Dragon Ball FighterZ was the only epic title of this age, and while Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was a fantastic love letter to dedicated fans, it was still lackluster in gameplay and not something people had been asking for.
Fans demanded the BT series while Bandai continued to needlessly support Xenoverse 2. However, it seems things were already in motion backstage, as Sparking Zero has allegedly been in development for 5 years. And now we have solid proof of this, as the trailer shows Bandai Namco is holding nothing back. The visuals show just how much of a jump this game is. Fluid movements and attacks in this superb art style and graphics are surely a dream come true for me.
If The Final Gameplay Is As Good As The Trailer, We’re In For A Blast
The visuals certainly seem insanely good, but after waiting for this long the expectations were also towering. The real analysis starts when it comes to the gameplay mechanics and combat. For now, we don’t have too much to go on except the TGA 2023 trailer, but that short clip alone has given us enough to be hyped about. I don’t know about you but I am crazy excited about this. The video gives a little glimpse of the combat we can expect.
The trailer claimed the clip to be actual gameplay, so it is certainly exciting news. In the combat segments, we see Goku and Vegeta duke it out right off the bat, firing world-ending super moves in the most heart-throbbing visual presentation. Similarly, when they go melee, Goku does what looks like an Aerial combo in Budokai Tenkaichi, before being interrupted by vanish, and I can’t be more hyped.
That’s not all. The next segment shows Frieza beating Vegeta for old times’ sake. In that little brawl, Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero showcases the use of continuous vanishing counters, and this is where I was sold. I can’t wait to pull off the Up+Square counter once again. (I lied; for the life of me I still can’t do it) All in all, the game is shaping up to be a very authentic Budokai Tenkaichi 3 throwback. Seeing BT 3’s combat return with such brilliant visuals is a feeling I can’t describe.
Some info & Key Features about Sparking! ZERO from official website! pic.twitter.com/t10kJ5qmvL
— Hype (@DbsHype) December 8, 2023
BT Is Not The Only Series Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero Is Taking Cues From
If you’ve been following Dragon Ball games as eagerly as me, the short trailer should’ve been enough to make you realize that Sparking Zero is taking certain mechanics and features from other Dragon Ball games, too in addition to the Budokai Tenkaichi series. Let me list some of the similarities that I spotted. The first thing to note is when we see Vegeta deflect Goku’s Kamehameha move in their battle.
The ability to deflect blast-type super moves is not present in the Budokai Tenkaichi series, but it’s a core defensive mechanic in the Raging Blast series. Just like any other evasive maneuver, it requires proper timing, but it’s a pretty cool way to evade, just shrug off the enemy’s attack like it’s nothing. Raging Blast was a sort of weaker version of the Budokai Tenkaichi series both visually and mechanically, but it had some creativity I’m glad is returning.
Similarly, Ultimate Tenkaichi was the latest out of these three series, but it was also the worst unfortunately. Its mechanics were extremely incompatible with the Dragon Ball formula. Who wants to determine if their attacks hit or not with Rock Paper Scissors? It’s the most ridiculous thing to add in a DB game. But, I must admit that the game’s environmental destruction was pretty effective, and seeing this trailer made me think of it when it comes to devastation.
A Budokai Tenkaichi Game Without Local Co-Op Is Hard To Accept
After this much praise, you’d think I have no complaints about it, but there’s still something I wish the final product features. That is nothing more than the option to play local co-op. As much as I hold Budokai Tenkaichi 3 in high regard, my fondest memories of it are challenging my friends and siblings to a friendly-turned-heated contest. A BT game would be incomplete without it, but unfortunately, I have sort of bad news for you.
Although it’s not yet confirmed, the game’s listing on the PS Store as well as the Steam page seem to indicate that the game features online multiplayer options only, and local co-op might be unavailable. While it’s too soon to say this, Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero might lose some of its charm without this option. I hope Bandai Namco realizes how much of an integral component couch co-op is for a nostalgic game like this.
Similarly, the only other thing I want Sparking Zero to do is to feature a highly versatile roster. It’s rumored to be the greatest yet, and what I wouldn’t give for that to be true. From the trailer, we see some Dragon Ball Z as well as Super characters in the lineup. If the game features characters from the original Dragon Ball and GT, I think it has the potential to become the greatest Dragon Ball gaming experience if done right. I sure do hope that’s the case.
Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero is to arrive on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S, but a release date for the game has not yet been revealed.
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