The universe of Dragon Ball is once again in disarray! The world’s strongest fighters must gather together to stop the enemies from the past from taking over! With the help of past, present and future fighters, can Goku and his friends retrieve the Dragon Balls and restore order to Earth?The game starts like most DBZ games do, playing through the story arcs starting with the Saiyan Saga and travelling all the way through to the Buu Saga. Once the initial story arc is complete, Adventure mode becomes available, which is where the proper story of the game begins. The timeline of the Dragon Ball universe has warped and become mixed together, and villains and heroes from all over have appeared and are wreaking havoc. It is up to Goku and friends to gather the ‘Ultimate’ Dragon Balls and wish for the world to return to normal. Along the way, Goku is challenged not only by long-defeated foes (harking back to the original series Dragon Ball), but others as well (Even though most fans have denied GT as canon, the enemies still appear). Can Goku and the Z Fighters restore the planet to normal?Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoden is effectively a fan service game in multiple ways; the style of the game harks back to the original Butoden series that first appeared on the Super Nintendo system in the early 90s, with a graphical boost for the 3DS. The character sprites are pixelated for this exact reason, but still detailed for what they are, and the environments behind them are rendered with a little 3D detail. Energy blasts from the characters are also rendered in the same way, and the blending of all elements comes together well to create something that feels new but also retro. The game is colourful and vibrant, and stays true to the typical DBZ art style from the anime and manga.
But what would a DBZ game be without its soundtrack? While the characters are voiced in Japanese (and the voice audio isn’t amazing quality), the game itself has a very generic pop-rock soundtrack that is common of most Dragon Ball Z games, and after a while gets very repetitive and annoying. Fighting and energy sounds are taken almost directly from the anime, so at least the game still appeases the fans by using original sounds.The biggest gripe I had with the game also turned out to be a blessing in disguise; starting the game there is no introduction or training mode to get you into it. The options are still provided within the start menu during battles, and this is relatively easy to follow, but otherwise the player is practically left to fend for themselves.
The combat system has quite a deep learning curve to it – with light, heavy and energy attacks being the three key components to a battle. Pressing multiple in succession leads to a rush combo, and pressing the right amount of buttons at times leads to a powered up rush combo that is used to deal large damage in a short period of time. Stronger attacks or attacks that end in a large energy blast require ‘Ki’ power to use, so the option to power up mid-battle helps push them over the edge (and it doesn’t take a week to power up either!).Players can select a choice of either 1, 2 or 3 warriors, and depending on the amount of warriors picked, the remaining roles can be filled by support characters which can assist the player during a battle. Each round lasts for as long as each player has an able combatant on the field or until the time runs out.
Once you get into the swing of things, the fighting within the game becomes crazy and fun, although you may be button-mashing for your life at some stages. Energy blasts, teleportation attacks, throws and ultimate combos become easier to perform the more you use them, and combos can be accessed by the pause menu so that you know what you are doing. Each level is finished by defeating the opponent and receiving a ‘rank’, allowing you to unlock additional fighters and support characters; however it seems a challenge to unlock the S ranking for fights, so most of the time I would end up with an A ranking.
The selection of fighters for such a seemingly big game is actually quite disappointing – the favourites are all there (Goku, Piccolo, Gohan, Vegeta, Trunks) but the majority of secondary or supplementary characters are pushed into support roles, as are some forms of main characters (SSG Vegeta is a support, Android 16 is a support, the majority of the Ginyu force are supports). This makes fighting stale after a while due to lack of variety within playable characters.While paying a lot of fan service and having a fighting system that grows on you the more you play it, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden ultimately falls short of being an amazing game and instead is relegated to an average state. True fans of the series will get a kick out of it for a while but even then will likely grow tired of the repetitive gameplay and limited character options.