Chou Dragon Ball Z Hands-On

Banpresto shows off its arcade fighter based on the classic anime series. We take it for a spin.


Super Dragon Ball Z

Amid the flash and pizzazz on the Amusement Machine show floor, Banpresto's booth stood out thanks to a massive dragon and seven bright orange balls that hung suspended over the stage at the front of the booth. The conspicuous display was in honor of the Chou Dragon Ball Z arcade game that was on hand at the show. The game is the upcoming 3D fighter from fledgling developer Craft and Meister. Though the game is the first release from the new developer, its staff is hardly inexperienced. The developer was founded by Noritaka Funamizu, formerly of Capcom, whose resume includes serving as producer on the Street Fighter II series, and Katsuhiro Sudo, another ex-Capcom producer. The work-in-progress version of the game on display featured seven playable characters, including Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, Goku, Piccolo, Klilyn, and Trunks, as well as five blacked-out portraits.

The game bears more than a passing resemblance to the Atari fighting series for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube. The graphics feature a cel-shaded look for the characters, as well as backgrounds that feature some measure of interactivity. Besides reacting to your attacks, you'll see that the massive backgrounds feature a good amount of depth and will let you use objects in them to block attacks. The gameplay also appears to stay true to the accessible system seen in the console games, as it uses a simple four button layout. You'll be able to perform strong or weak attacks, as well as guard and jump. In addition, you'll be able to fly and perform dash moves.

Each character will have his or her own unique set of attacks that stay true to their powers and abilities from the anime. You'll also be able to perform ground and air attacks using special moves that are performed with D pad motions and pressing the punches or kicks. As well, you can perform dramatic super moves that are taken directly from the anime if your super meter is full. Besides that basic system, the game will use a magnetic card system that's becoming more and more prevalent in Japanese arcade games. The cards will track the experience you earn from playing and will eventually let you level up and learn new skills and techniques, which will come in handy during combat.

Based on what we played, Chou Dragon Ball Z has a lot of promise as an arcade fighter. The game looks good and handles well already. The addition of the magnetic card system helps give it some depth along the lines of Virtua Figher and Tekken, which is also a good thing. The game is currently slated to hit arcades later this year.

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