Game Review: Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden (3DS)

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Another year, another Dragon Ball game and while many may roll their eyes at another Dragon Ball Z fighting game being released onto a ‘unlikely’ platform it is a title that is worth taking an interest in; especially if you are a fan of the BlazBlue franchise or, more interestingly, a fan of the Super Famicom Butoden titles released many years ago.

dragonballz-extreme-butoden-3ds-front-cover Title: Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: Arc System Works
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Resolution: 400 x 240
Audio: Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: 2
Install: YES (2,891 Blocks)

Our View:

Introducing Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden, a 2D Sprite-based fighting game developed by Arc System Works a team which brought us the popular multi-platform sprite based fighting franchise BlazBlue. Now if this isn’t enough to ‘peak’ your interest then potentially nothing about this game will interest you; as at its best its a core fighting game and a return to its Super Famicom roots, or SNES if you prefer.

Unlike BlazBlue, and the previous Butoden titles released onto the Super Famicom, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is extremely easy to pick-up-and-play and it is easily one of the more entertaining merits of the game. Past Dragon Ball Z games, including the more recent Dragon Ball Xenoverse, tend to feel over-complicated with its multiple button controls and layout patterns; instead here in this game we have the simple ‘High Attack, Low Attack, Dash and Energy Beam attack’ buttons – with each button corresponding to a button on the Nintendo 3DS handheld. Notable special attacks, such as Piccolo’s Special Beam Cannon and Frieza’s Death Ray Beam are done simply by pressing the L and A buttons together. Combo’s can also be easily preformed by pressing multiple buttons together and if a correct combo button is achieved – usually “YYYYXA” an ultimate combo attack, such as Vegeta’s Big Bang attack, can be performed; that is of course depending on if enough Ki energy is available.

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Put simply Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is a simplistic fighting game that can be enjoyed by everyone and for the most part this is what you can expect from the gameplay mechanics of the game. Unfortunately however this is also where Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden starts to loose some of its charm.

The game itself is separated into multiple different gameplay modes; in this case Z Story, Adventure World, Extreme World Tournament, Battle Mode, Versus Mode, Quest Mode and Extras – each of which offer a different aspect of gameplay. Z Story focuses on the ‘original’ Dragon Ball Z timeline but condenses it down into just ten fights but upon completion it will then unlock additional Z Story aspects which see other characters from the Dragon Ball Z timeline, including enemies, get their own fights highlighted. For instance the first Z Story option will see fights with multiple characters, while the second unlocked option will only feature fights that Goku took part in and so fourth. The result is that not only are characters unlocked for use in other modes, which is a good thing, but you are constantly fighting the same opponents over and over again; which after the third character’s storyline becomes increasingly tedious and relatively boring.

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Adventure World Mode on the otherhand is a mode that becomes accessible upon completion of Z Story and it sees a brand new ‘exclusive’ storyline thrown into the mix. The idea is that Omega Shenron, the White Dragon from the Dragon Ball GT anime series, has returned and as a result the past, present and future have all been mixed together into a current state of time and so Goku must track down the Ultimate Dragon Balls and use them to restore peace to the entire timeline. To some extent the storyline feels very similar to Dragon Ball Xenoverse, but on the otherhand it is completely complex and confusing. In my eyes its best to ignore the storyline thats played out before you but when the game forces dialogue sequences down your eyes its hard not to ignore it.

This particular gameplay mode is played out similar to how Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 was, whereby you can control goku around a pre-determined mini-map and then select locations to take part in. Some locations will yield fights, that is after a dialogue sequence, while others are pure dialogue to get the story moving. In my eyes this particular story was long, drawn-out and over-complicated but it did bring a useful way of bringing back characters of the past and using them (either as playable characters or assist characters) and more importantly as each new area is unlocked the fights become more difficult.

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That’s not all Adventure Mode manages to do; as additional characters can be unlocked for use in other game-modes – most of which are Z Assist characters. It’s all done by rankings; so if you manage to achieve an S-Rank you will most likely earn another character, however with no pre-determined goals on how to obtain an S-Rank you may be scratching your heads on how to unlock your favourite characters.

The remainder of the gameplay modes, most notably Extreme World Tournament, Battle Mode and Versus Mode are just varying ways of having battles with other opponents – which is what you would expect from this type of game. Extreme World Tournament will see players take part in the World Tournament whereby players must defeat all opponents without loosing in order to pass it. Battle mode meanwhile will see players do battle with CPU Opponents while Versus Mode will see players doing battle with other online (and offline) opponents. Whichever gameplay mode you choose however any number of characters currently unlocked can be used – and there’s quite a few to go through.

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In total 24 playable characters are included with another 76 or so added as Z-Assist characters; playable characters can physically be used to control and fight with where as Z-Assist characters can only be summoned for brief moments of time. It’s an interesting mechanic and it works quite well in allowing relatively unknown characters, such as Android #8 and General Blue from Dragon Ball, to the franchise. The downside however is that the number of playable characters is greatly reduced to the normal selection and even then these are ‘wittled’ down into their different forms. For instance Gohan has Kid, Super Saiyan 2, Teen, Teen Super Saiyan and Teen Unleashed – so thats already five character slots used out of the total number. While this is a bit of a disappointment; it’s worth noting that each character has a slightly different set of skills – especially when it comes to ultimate attacks – but it still would have been nice for some Z-Assist characters to be made as fully playable characters, such as Android #17, Dr.Gero and so forth.

Using characters however also offers an interesting aspect of gameplay; as when selecting a character players can choose anything from 1 lone playable character to 3 playable characters – which can be swapped out at any moment – or anything in between; including 1 Playable character and four Z-Assist characters. It all depends if enough BP is available, but even then i never found this to be an issue and selected whoever i wanted when i wanted them but i assume this will change once more powerful characters are unlocked.

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Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden also comes with a streetpass feature, otherwise known as Quest mode, whereby unlocked characters can be used as cards that can be shared with other people; it’s another streetpass feature that will most likely be unused but its something thats been added to share your interest in the Dragon Ball Z franchise with other Nintendo 3DS owners.

In short Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden could have returned the franchise to its fighting game roots and been one of the best Dragon Ball Z fighting games ever released; instead we are treated to a game that looks exciting, plays brilliantly and seems interesting – but after three hours of play it just becomes downright dull with ‘rinse and repeat’ process and unchallenging gameplay mechanics. Nice try Arc System Works; but more playable characters, a slightly alternate approach to the storyline modes and a more varying command mechanic (basic and pro options) may have been the right way to go.

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I’m not saying Extreme Butoden is a terrible game; its just not what I expected to play – especially after seeing the demo and playing other titles by Arc System Works; but on the flip slide this fighting game can be easily approached by anyone which means that anyone can sit down and enjoy it.

Score: review-stars-3

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden will be available exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS from the 16th October 2015 within the UK and Europe.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has produced content for ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

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