Video Games Review: Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden (3DS, 2015)

Dragon Ball Z’s place in pop culture in unquestionably prevalent. Its ability to crossover and interject itself into a range of mediums has been the reason for its longevity. It’s no surprise then then that its transition to video games is not only academic but highly welcome for a demographic that wants just that little bit more of their favourite anime.

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden for the 3DS is the latest iteration of the manga and as is usually the case, it’s a 2D fighter.

Developed by Japanese developer Arc System Works (Guilty Gear, Persona Arena) Butoden is designed to give you a complete and extensive package that fits snuggly into the constraints of the 3DS. It offers a decent number of game modes allowing you to play as virtually anybody from the series and takes you through all the major sagas such as Cell, Majin Buu, The Androids and Raditz.

Much of the modes require you to complete the proceeding mode to unlock them but they don’t take long to finish so you’ll have your pick of the bunch in no time.

The most obvious one to begin with is Z mode. This is one of the story portions that takes you through various major arcs. It initially begins with a team mode, whereby you utilise a multitude of characters but upon completion of that, there are a good number of ‘sagas’ that open up chronicling narratives on Goku to Krillin and much to everyone’s delight, Vegeta.

From here on out, you’ll have access to the other game modes and for what it’s worth, they all contribute to comprise a pretty meaty game. Adventure Mode spans eight areas that initiates with a Mario Bros style map. Here you must complete challenges to earn currency and unlock extra combatants. A must if you want the whole crew at your disposal. Once again, each area will only take about 15 minutes so you will blaze through them quite quickly.

Extreme World Tournament is exactly what it sounds like, harking back to some of the best moments of the show; You pick your characters and engage in rounds of battles until you become victor. With Battle mode included as well – playing against CPU characters with no strings attached- it’s a bit redundant but it comes with its own little cutscenes and story so it’s a nice addition.

It all looks nice enough with the cel shaded visuals displaying some wonderfully faithful recreations and nice lush backgrounds that pop in 3D. Cut scenes are very minimalistic, relying on static characters posing and text being framed at the bottom. There are some nice little comic book style insertions that mix things up a bit but don’t expect much else.

If you have played any Dragon Ball fighting game before then you’ll already know what you’re doing when it comes to throwing fisticuffs. Butoden is fairly rudimentary when it comes to fighting but there are some nice variations on combat. Just don’t go in expecting to pull off some MK or Street Fighter shenanigans and accept it for what it is. Combos carry over well to each character so it helps with having having a semblance of familiarity and base special moves are easy to pull off and are nicely varied. You can charge your Ki with L, which helps with pulling off some spectacular maneuvers. Oh I didn’t do any of them, but the CPU did and they look great.

Butoden is primarily Japanese so any in-game speech isn’t in English and the translation of dialogue in cutscenes can be laugh out loud bad. It is offset by some authentic music however and the audio during fights is a great touch.

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is a comprehensive package for Dragon Ball fans. It has a hefty roster of playable characters, it retells virtually every story arc and offers up a pretty sweet bundle of content that ramps up its replayability value. In saying that, most of it will be be literally replays. Because of its 1 round fights and blink and you’ll miss it game modes, Butoden can feel very thin and with its fairly shallow combat it could lose its appeal fairly quickly. When all’s said and done, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden’s ability to evoke joy is based on your penchant for Dragon Ball.

Review Score: 6.5 out of 10
Highlights: Nice, authentic visuals, Plenty of game modes, Fan service
Lowlights: Game modes are brutally short; Repetitive combat
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher:  Bandai Namco Games
Released: October 16, 2015
Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS