Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi

Shenron, My Single Wish is to Destroy This Game

Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi is about as much fun as a kamehameha to the face.
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: November 7, 2011
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At the risk of sounding like a complete and total nerd, nothing compared to coming home after a long school day and waiting around until 5 P.M. for Toonami to start. Usually, I’d skip out on watching “Sailor Moon” but I absolutely had to watch both “Dragon Ball Z” and “Gundam Wing.” DBZ was always my favorite show and I loved watching it with my dad who constantly called mispronounced Frieza as “Freezer.” I didn’t watch the Majin Buu saga to its completion but I did watch everyday to see how the Frieza and Cell story arcs were ultimately completed. So even though I’m nowhere close to being an expert on the series I still looked forward to playing Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi if for nothing else than nostalgia’s sake and seeing “Freezer”.

I will fess up to playing Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 for the Wii. That was the last DBZ game I played and before that I honestly can’t remember playing any other game based on the series. I do remember longing for Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout but its price was constantly outrageous on eBay. The main reason I picked up DBZ: BT2 was that I needed something to justify my Nintendo Wii purchase at the time and I thought it would be cool to use the motion controls in the game. I was right and the game still stands as one of my favorite on that system. I was disappointed to see that Ultimate Tenkaichi would not have Move controls but I can’t fault them for omitting it, especially for a multi-platform release. Still, it was a DBZ game and the formula seems to be tried and true. I mean, a quick Wikipedia search shows 13 games on just the PS2 and PS3. Now I know that they are trying out different genres and I understand that each game adds something new but to be honest, I found Ultimate Tenkaichi to be a step backward from the game I played in 2006 on the Wii.

Even from playing the tutorial I knew things were heading in the wrong direction. After a three-hit combo you are taken into the “Attack Clash” screen that gives you a 50/50 chance of your next hit connecting. There are only two attack buttons to choose from, square and triangle, and if the opponent guesses right they’ll knock you back or counter your move and create some distance. If you win this clash you can then follow up with a combo of your winning button plus some directional inputs. Basically, this means if you hit triangle and win you can then follow-up with multiple triangle attacks from different angles that lead to various attacks. Triangle clash victories will end with your character being in blast range, an excellent way to shoot off a special beam attack (i.e.: kamehameha) while square will keep you in melee range. These combos can go into the 30s and deal thousands of damage but I don’t understand why the combat is watered down so much. Everything is based on a single input and that just doesn’t sit right with me.

Of course, if you’re caught in an opponent’s combo you can try to escape it and counter with your own attack. These counters are controlled with the absolute worst method I have ever come across in all my years of gaming. To break a combo you have to mash all four face buttons (square, triangle, x and circle) at once, repeatedly, and hope that you’re fast enough or that the thing actually works. I did not manage to get the thing to work a single time outside of the tutorial and I have yet to see the computer ever pull it off, either, except on hard mode. When I went into my local Play N Trade today I got in a discussion about this exact mechanic with the guy working there, and, unsurprisingly, he said he had dumped more than 100 hours into the game and got the recovery mechanic to work a grand total of four times. If there is anyone out there that can pull this thing off in less than half the time, please tell me your secret, because I am absolutely lost and fed up with trying to do this. From what I gathered in the tutorial (which also required about six to eight retries on my end), if you manage to pull this move off you follow it up with yet another 50/50 attack that could mean that your counter was actually in vain.

By charging up your Ki you can perform various offensive and defensive maneuvers. Offensively you can perform a breakaway attack, which is another coin flip affair. Your character flies away and shoots a volley of energy blasts and your choices this time are left or right. If the opponent guesses correctly they will blast right through it and injure you. Defensively you can do a host of different maneuvers, from countering a blast with your own, dodging entirely, or taking a defensive stance that will allow you to absorb less damage. Countering is another quick time event just to see who can mash triangle the most and dodging requires you to press square as the bars on the bottom line up. Basically, even the one-on-one battles seem to become less about skill and more about who can perform quick time events with least resistance and if you can correctly predict what button your opponent is pressing. It’s frustrating because I never felt as though I was controlling my character the entire time. Instead, I was just mashing the same buttons repeatedly and praying I didn’t get caught in a combo of doom that I couldn’t break out of.
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