Super Dragon Ball Z (超ドラゴンボールZ) is a cel-shaded 3D fighting video game, based on the manga and anime of Dragon Ball written by Akira Toriyama. It was originally released in Japanese (December 22, 2005) and European (2006) arcades running on System 246 hardware, and later for the PlayStation 2 (Japan, June 29, 2006; US, July 18, 2006; AU, July 28,2006). The game was developed by Crafts & Meister, headed by Noritaka Funamizu (responsible in part for Street Fighter II). The game features 18 playable characters, destructible environments, and a game engine geared towards fans of more traditional fighting games.
When the game was initially announced, all that had been released was a title, and primarily on English-language websites. A logo for the game was later released, which spelled out the title as 超ドラゴンボールZ (chō doragonbōru zetto). However, the furigana below the 超 (chō) reads out スーパー (sūpā; or the English word "super"). Since furigana is intended to provide a pronunciation of the kanji, whether or not it is an accurate "translation" of that word, this would be the correct pronunciation. This parallels the phrase 超サイヤ人 (Sūpā Saiyajin), in which the kanji 超 (chō) is written with furigana that directs the reader to pronounce the word as スーパー (Sūpā).
The official name of the game has since been written and literally spoken aloud within the game itself.
The game's theme throughout its presentation is that of the Dragon Ball manga. Color schemes, art styles, and even loading screens are all nods to the original Japanese tankobōn run of the series. For example, Goku's gi is not the saturated orange seen in the TV series; images on the main menu are significant colored images from the manga; loading screens mirror the original Japanese tankobōn cover art; sound effects are written out during battle when an excessively-hard hit connects; etc.
A new form for Mecha Frieza was created for the home release of the game. This new version of Mecha Frieza was advertised as an "all-new character" and was referred to as Full Armor Mecha Frieza in promotional material. This updated design includes a large rocket-launcher on his right shoulder, packs of explosives on his belt, and razor explosives down the length of his tail. Despite popular opinion that Akira Toriyama designed Full Armor Mecha Frieza, there is actually very little evidence that this is true.
Shifting away from the gameplay of recent series such as the Budokai games and the Budokai Tenkaichi games, Super Dragon Ball Z brings its style back to a more traditional formula made famous with the Capcom, SNK, etc. games of the 1990s.
"Fireball motions" and their ilk provide the majority of special move inputs, along with "dial-a-combos" (as seen in Mortal Kombat 3 and the Tekken series) for closer, hand-to-hand combat. Some characters (Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Trunks, etc.) have brief power-ups into Super Saiyan, Kaio-Ken, and other special forms, though these are all temporary. Characters have "super moves", throws, juggles, dashes, etc. that can trace their routes back to these earlier 1990s games.
Game Modes (Home Version)
A traditional arcade mode, as seen in games such as Street Fighter II, in which the player fights enemies one after the other in various stages before fighting the final boss, Cell (in his Perfect form). Each victory will yield a Dragon Ball and there are 7 stages in total.
A "survival" mode in which the player fights various opponents for as long as their health remains above zero. Battles all take place in the World Tournament ring (with the same background music each time), and last a single round. If the player wins the round, they play a "roulette"-style game in which their selection endows them with items such as additional experience, extra health, Dragon Balls, etc. If using a custom character, the player will gain experience. Also, if the player makes a near perfect to perfect win in less than 30 seconds for 5 matches and if he or she is still alive by the 9th and "final" warrior, he or she will engage in a double-or-nothing match with Majin Buu, Cyborg Frieza, Gohan, or Videl. However, this WILL NOT unlock them even if they have not been unlocked. They must be unlocked by a wish from the Dragon Balls.
A mode where the player can perfect their skills against a computer opponent of their customization (non-moving, responsive, etc.). Battles take place within Vegeta's training room of Dr. Brief's creation.
A standard two-player versus mode. Players may use either the default characters or their own custom versions from either memory card slot.
Upon collecting seven Dragon Balls with a custom character, the player may enter this mode to summon Shenron. The player may then wish for various items, such as additional attacks, unlockable characters, etc. After making a wish, the Dragon Balls disappear and must be recollected in another game mode.
Additional attacks that can be given to a custom character by wishing for it from Shenron include a rivals super (like the Kamehameha), Yamcha's super (Wolf Fang Fist), Tien Shinhan's super (Tri-Beam), or Nappa's super (Flame Pillar).
The player may set up "custom" characters to battle with. These characters will gain experience from fighting, which allows them to learn new special attacks, raise statistics, etc. There are 30 available slots for custom characters. Custom characters may be used in Original, Z Survivor, Training, Summon Shenron, and Versus modes.
A standard series of options menus that allows the player to control key assignments, volume levels, saving, narrating voice, loading, etc.
Immediately Playable Characters (Arcade & Home Versions)
- Gohan (Base, Super Saiyan 2)
- Android 18
- Frieza (Final Form)
- Goku (Base, Super Saiyan)
- Future Trunks (Base, Super Saiyan)
- Cell (Perfect Form)
- Vegeta (Base, Super Saiyan)
- Android 16
- Android 17
Unlockable Characters (Home Version Only)
Non-playable appearing Characters
- World Tournament Announcer (appears in the World Tournament Stage)
- Puar (appears in the opening of any fight in the World Tournament Stage)
- Sourman (appears in East City, destroying a telephone booth)
- Oolong (appears in East City, destroying a car)
- Upa (appears as kid at the bottom of the Korin Tower)
- Chiaotzu (appears on the Snake Way in Check-In Station Stage)
- Fortuneteller Baba (appears in the Check-In Station Stage)
- Mr. Popo (in the main menu and turn around Kami Sanctuary)
- Master Roshi (in the main menu)
- Shenron (in the main menu, and Summon The Dragon mode)
- Dende (appears in background of the Namek stage)
- King Kai (appears in the background of his planet's arena stage)
- Bubbles (appears in the background of the King Kai's planet stage)
- Mr. Satan (appears in the background of the Cell Games Arena stage)
- World Martial Arts Tournament
- Kami's Lookout/Sacred Land of Korin
- Eastern Capital
- Cell Ring
- Planet Namek
- King Kai's planet
- King Yemma's Palace/Hell
The opening theme for the Japanese version is "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" (2005 version) performed by Hironobu Kageyama. This is a remix of the first Dragon Ball Z TV opening theme, released as a CD single in 2005 with variations of it and the second opening theme, "We Gotta Power", also included on the seven-track CD (Sony Music / Team Entertainment, KDSD-74). The song is replaced with an unnamed song in the American version.
The score of the game features at least two remixes of background music composed for the Dragon Ball Z TV series by Shunsuke Kikuchi. Other pieces are newly composed for this game. All pieces are upbeat, blippy-techno style.
As it would seem, Atari have made a few alterations to their North American version of this release. The opening song, "Cha-La Head-Cha-La (2005 ver.)" has been replaced with a techno instrumental similar to Bruce Faulconer's work. Also, the Japanese manga-style sound effects have been altered to an English translation, apparently to help with the translation of the game. Finally, there is no option for the Japanese voice actors, which completely contrasts the previous North American releases of Sparking!, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 (GH), and even the PlayStation Portable's Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai. The PAL version has the same opening song and manga-style sound effect translations as the US version, but alternatively retains the Japanese voice actors with no option to change to the English cast (similar to the release of the PAL version of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai).
However, there would seem to be one optional Japanese voice actor from Atari left in. Jōji Yanami is evidently one of the unlockable "Narration" voices for the game, even credited in the "Original Mode" ending sequence. Despite this, there is no slot for his voice in the unlockable Narrator wishes, so this may have just been left in by accident.
The game received a rating of 4.5/5 from GamePro, as well as Editor's Choice, a 7.3/10 from GameSpot, and another 7.4/10 from IGN, along with Runner Up for "Best Fighting Game on the PS2 at E3".
- Unlike the manga/anime, falling out of the World Tournament ring will not end the fight.
- The Namek Stage can be destroyed by Dragon Finishes.