Review: Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors (Game Boy Advance)

Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors
Genre: Fighting/Action
Platform: Gameboy Advance
Rating: Teen
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Banpresto

Another Dragon Ball Z game. If you’re a fan of the DBZ anime then, naturally, this is a little scary. Indeed, the track record for the DBZ franchise and the games that have come out of it is nothing short of abysmal. So here we are again, as Atari (who has tortured us with releases like DBZ: Taiketsu) hits us with the newest DBZ game for the Gameboy Advance: Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors. After actually buying Taiketsu (DBZ fanboys do the craziest things) I was prepared for the worst here. However, it seems that the DBZ lameness has ended. The commercials say that this game isn’t out till the 29th of June (and indeed it may be past that by the time your read this), but thanks to the good folks at Gamestop anyone who wanted to was able to get this game early, with free shipping, and 5 dollars off. So needless to say, with a deal like that, I couldn’t say no to a DBZ game despite the track record in front of us. So, aimless wanderers who have found their way here, let’s cast our nets and see just what the hell Atari has given us this time around with DBZ: Supersonic Warriors.

1. Story

See, this is how it should be done. Every one of the fifteen characters you have (some need to be unlocked), has their own story in story mode. Depending on who you pick, be it Goku or Vegeta, or one of the lesser characters in the DBZ universe like Dr. Gero, you have a completely different story to go through as you fight through the characters in the game. So you do the math. Fifteen characters equals fifteen storylines that follow the anime very closely. Now, if you’re a fan of the anime that may not seem like a big deal. And true, it really isn’t. But here’s where the cool part comes in: You can unlock alternate endings for whatever character you play. Ever wondered what would have happened if Frieza and Goku’s fight had ended differently? Well, here you get a glimpse at what may have been. It’s not the greatest thing ever, but for fans of the series it really is a great addition and gives you even more incentive to play the game with every character once you get them.

Still, it’s a fighter, and it’s a DBZ game at that. The story, as it should, follows the anime and for those of you who want new content it has the extra endings as well. Atari came through here and covered all the bases, and whether you are a DBZ purist, a fanatic, or just a fan of fighter games then I do not think you will go home disappointed after giving this game a chance. I think the problem before with DBZ games is that first if you’re not a fan of the series you may be turned off to begin with and second: all the games prior to this suck. This game goes the extra mile to not fall into those pits this time around and the results are pleasantly surprising.

Overall Story Rating: 7/10

2. Graphics

Taiketsu made me weep. Atari took my fond memories of DBZ and dashed them with crappy graphics. They took a crap in a box and put Dragon Ball Z on it. I would use more analogies if it helped drive my point across even further. But things have been put right, and amends have been made. The characters are crisp, and the backgrounds are simply amazing. The airborne fighting graphics are even better, and it really comes closer to capturing the feel of the series then anything ever has before. The “cutscenes” are true to the anime as well, which isn’t a big surprise when you consider that the GBA is playing videos these days; but it is still a nice touch. Atari spit in the faces of gamers before, but they have apparently noticed that crap games sell very badly, and that knowledge shows here. DBZ: Supersonic Warriors is truly great graphically, and it shows off the GBA for all it can do. They got all the major graphical details down right, and even managed to incorporate many of the little things as well that long time DBZ fans will notice as they power up their characters and go through the various modes this game has to offer. Bottom line: Atari got it right this time, so enjoy it now, because who knows how long this will last.

Overall Graphics Rating: 7/10

3. Sound

I liked the sound, but I didn’t love it. It’s good, and it keeps you in the game for a while, but eventually it wears thin. Still it’s better than I expected, so I’ll call it an upside. My gripe; however, is that every truly great fighter should have some great music. Supersonic Warriors has that great potential, but it falls short, and this is the one category that strikes out big time. For example, it would have been real cool to put some of the signature phrases of the DBZ characters in there. When Goku, or Trunks, fires a Ki blast, or does one of their moves the corresponding sounds should have went with them. Instead all we get is grunts here or there that add nothing to the game. Couple that with the very bland background musical selection and the sound factor to Supersonic Warriors just falls flat. However, like I said before it’s not like this is the worst sound for a game ever. Compared to Taiketsu this is like Mozart. Of course anything compared to Taiketsu would look like gold, but that’s not the point. The point is that the sound is decent here, but not stellar. More could have been done, and it’s a bit disappointing that they didn’t go the extra mile to make this game that much better.

Overall Sound Rating: 4/10

4. Control

No matter how I try to say it, this category will come to the same conclusion. So its best if I just get it out of the way now. DBZ: Supersonic Warriors is fun, great looking, and head and shoulders above the rest of the DBZ games out there. Yet it is, unfortunately, a button masher at its core. When you’re playing the game in story mode, you can get through it with little knowledge of the controls, which to those of us who like some challenge in our fighters is a low point that can not be overlooked. Sure, you *can* learn tougher techniques, and if you have friends to play this game on multi-player mode than it’s very cool to know how to do them. But if you bought this game and only intend on playing it by your lonesome than you’re in for some easy victories as you transverse DBZ: Supersonic Warriors. There is some upside here though. The game itself focuses a lot on airborne fighting, and the controls are tailored for this. The game doesn’t feel slow like Taiketsu did, and instead gives you that fast paced feeling DBZ fans have always craved in their videogames. While it doesn’t make up for the button mashing aspect of DBZ Supersonic Warriors, it does make the game a bit more enjoyable as you just have to make due with what you are given.

Overall Control Rating: 5/10

5. Balance

Not much here either. As I said before in the control scoring section, this game is simplistic on any mode, unless you play other human opponents of some decent talent. Barring that occurrence no one should have any trouble thoroughly dominating this game with any of the characters you can play as. It’s really tough for me to complain here though, simply because as DBZ fan I have waited for a good title for a very long time, and this is it. It would have been nicer to have more challenge, that is certainly not being debated here. Yet, a fan of the series gets this game to experience DBZ in a way that watching the TV show doesn’t give you. It’s just simple flat out fun to play as your favorite character and kick the crap out of people. So, yeah, it’s not the most difficult game in the world, but it doesn’t noticeably take away from the game in my eyes.

Overall Balance Rating: 5/10

6. Replayability

With several different modes to choose from (story, tag team, survival, etc), unlockable extras including characters, and new hidden endings for all fifteen characters DBZ Supersonic Warriors delivers in spades when it comes to replayability. It’s refreshing, because a game like this easily could have been run-of-the mill and offered you nothing more than the average fighter does. Atari went beyond what I expected, and the results are definitely of the pleasant variety. They effectively give you a reason to play this game with every character, to unlock the hidden features, and to see all the endings. Overall you get some good game time out of Supersonic Warriors, and if you happen to have some fellow DBZ friends than you can have some pretty kick ass multi-player fights as well. Overall, a very good game in terms of replayability.

Overall Replayability Rating: 8/10

7. Originality

Since it’s a game based on a very popular anime series, originality is not this games best suit. It does give it a novel try though, with the extra endings being a nice touch in terms of originality. However, great graphics, button mashing controls, and mediocre sound just doesn’t give this game that extra edge that it would need to be highly original. By design, this game is geared towards the DBZ/fighter fan, and that lends itself to a format that isn’t meant to be original. If you’re looking for a good fighter for the GBA then this may be for you. If you’re looking for a game that is setting the world on fire with ground breaking design and what not than you’re not in the right place.

Overall Originality Rating: 5/10

8. Appeal

I certainly found this game appealing. Of course, my view may be a bit jaded since I am a self-admitted, and shameless DBZ fanboy. However, I truly believe that this game has appeal that goes beyond that. Whether you are a fan of the DBZ series or not, the game is still a good fighter. Any fan of the fighter genre will probably enjoy giving this game a try, and will probably come to the same conclusions I have as I write this review. I think it’s worth the time and money to invest in DBZ: Supersonic Warriors, and that goes double if you are a fan of the series. Regardless, what it boils down to is that an above average game with a proven popular franchise can rarely miss its mark. This game is fun, fast paced, and definitely very appealing.

Overall Appeal Rating: 7/10

9. Addictiveness

DBZ: Supersonic Warriors is addictive for a little while. Until you see all the endings, and get all the characters, you will be compelled to keep playing. However, once you get everything you can, and played all the modes a few times, you won’t be popping it into your GBA every day. This game is good for road trips, and for people who just have that fighting game bug take over their system every now and an again. It’s a title that you can pull out every now and again, and replay just to have some fun. I have a feeling this game, like a fine wine, will age well, and will stand out as one of the better fighters for the GBA. It’s addicting for a good spell of time, and after that it becomes a nice addition to your library. I don’t think I could have asked for much more.

Overall Addictiveness Rating: 6/10

10. Miscellaneous

This game has room for improvement, that’s for sure. Yet, I don’t think anyone could argue when I say this is a HUGE step in the right direction for the DBZ franchise and the games it spawns here in the US. It has some nice unlockables, decent game play, and graphics that do the series justice on the GBA. It’s just a breath of fresh air compared to what we have been subjected with other DBZ games. Atari got it right this time, and all I can say is: It’s about damn time! I am hopeful that this will set a new standard for DBZ games, and that the level of quality will only go up from here. Anything else will simply be intolerable now that a good DBZ game actually exists.

Overall Miscellaneous Rating: 7/10

Story Rating: 7/10
Graphics Rating: 7/10
Sound Rating: 4/10
Controls Rating: 5/10
Balance Rating: 5/10
Replayability Rating: 8/10
Originality Rating: 5/10
Appeal Rating: 7/10
Addictiveness Rating: 6/10
Miscellaneous Rating: 7/10

Overall Score: 6.0