Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team First Look

We spike our hair, glow gold, and pulp some familiar faces with our first look at the latest game based on the hit anime series.

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Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team
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Japan flies the flag proudly as the spiritual home of anime. But while some of the more esoteric books and films are never released outside of the region, some do go on to star in the West, often brightly--a good case in point of which is Dragon Ball Z. During the 2010 Tokyo Game Show we had a chance to roll up our sleeves, spike our hair, and swing some fists with a look at the latest game outing adapted from the popular animated series.

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Making its way to Sony’s PlayStation Portable handheld, Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team (referred to as Dragon Ball Tag Versus in Japan) is a two-versus-two beat-‘em-up with a range of your favourite characters, powers, and locations. Our demo included a handful of the playable faces and places that will be available, such as series mainstays Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Trunks, Goten, and Piccolo, as well as bad guys Frieza, Cell, and the various Androids. Many of the characters will include Super Saiyan transformation variations, with the option to pick them from the character selection grid directly or to choose a base level character and scroll through the available evolution levels.

Namco has confirmed that the game will ship with more than 70 playable characters, though from what we’ve already seen, we imagine a chunk of the roster will be made up of variations of the same people. Our play was limited to the single-player quick match option, but there are already hints that you will be able to play through classic brawler matchups from the TV series story or build your own fight cards with dream teams. Even during the most frenetic of combat, our game ran smoothly and did a good job of capturing the visual styling of the source material it’s so closely modelled on.

Visuals are always important, but what’s a brawler without a decent combat system? The button layout is simple and easy to navigate here, with the square button handling your punches and kicks when you’re within striking distance of your target. Triangle is your ranged ki attack, and it's useful as a quick jab on the move or as an all-important interrupt while your opponent is charging up his biggest attacks. Guard is as important as offense, and when used carefully, it can turn the tide of battle quickly as you transition from victim to aggressor. Though we didn’t see it in action, a trailer for the game showed the ability to combine powers of two characters for more powerful double attacks with your AI squadmate, or alongside a friend over an ad hoc Wi-Fi connection.

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From our time with the game, it didn’t feel like the title reinvented the DBZ wheel, but we are keen to explore the option of multiplayer skirmishes with friends and get the chance to play the part of the lead role in some of the epic story fights for ourselves. Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team launches exclusively on the PSP later this month in Japan, with English versions targeting Europe, Australia, and North America in October this year.

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