Released last year for the Game Boy Advance, Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Fighters managed to break the trend of terrible 2D Dragon Ball Z fighting games that dated all the way back to the SNES. It certainly wasn't the most technical fighter, but it was responsive and good looking, and it generally captured the kinetic vibe of DBZ. Its sequel has now arrived on the DS, making a half-hearted effort to adapt to the two-screen format and the greater technical muscle of the DS. It's still a light and enjoyable fighter, especially for DBZ fans, but it's too similar to its predecessor to get very excited about.
The general structure of Supersonic Warriors 2 is the same as its predecessor: Two fighters duke it out in the appropriately overblown Dragon Ball Z style, flying through the air, throwing waves of energy at each other, and occasionally turning blonde. The action is often team-based, which means that you can swap out your fighters on the fly and occasionally call on your teammates to perform special attacks. Switching characters and launching special attacks is all handled via the touch screen, with the action always residing on the upper screen. The action is fast-paced enough to make looking down at the lower screen awkward, limiting the usefulness of the game's team tactics.
Supersonic Warriors was never particularly tactical to begin with, and number two doesn't change that. A little button-mashing will get you far in Supersonic Warriors 2, and it doesn't take much finesse to perform strong and weak attacks, throws, or energy attacks. The number of attacks is fairly limited, and the game definitely favors high-energy ranged attacks over up-close fisticuffs. The blocking system has changed since the first Supersonic Warriors, eschewing the timing-based system for an endurance-based blocking mechanic. You can block with the B button whenever you please, but every attack that you deflect adds to a meter that, when filled, drops your character's guard and stuns him or her for a few seconds. Though perhaps not as elegant as the timing-based mechanics, it still helps provide balance and keeps the pace of the fights going at a good clip.
There are a few different ways to play Supersonic Warriors 2. Those looking to familiarize themselves with the mechanics and find the perfect team of characters can go through the tutorial and free battle modes. If you want to go head-to-head with another real-life player, you can engage in an ad hoc Wi-Fi match, provided both parties have their own copy of the game. The Z Battle mode puts you up against some increasingly challenging opponents, while the story mode presents you with unique "what if?" scenarios for each of the characters in the game. Playing through the different stories is key--you can unlock new characters and abilities--but it's also astonishingly easy; while the combatants will start giving you a good run for your money pretty early on, it's rare to lose a match in the story mode.
Supersonic Warriors 2 takes the 2D character sprites from the original, which still look pretty good, and places them in front of polygonal backdrops. The action is still limited to two dimensions, but the 3D backdrops add some depth to the proceedings, and fairly well capture the familiar Dragon Ball Z locales. The sound also features plenty of familiar synthesized Dragon Ball Z musical themes, as well as voice samples of the American anime voice cast and sound effects from the show. It is, if nothing else, authentic.
Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2 is still OK, but considering the orders of magnitude by which the first Supersonic Warriors improved upon the gag-inducing Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu, it's disappointing how superficial the changes found here are. Those satisfied with more of the same, along with marginally improved visuals, will do fine with Supersonic Warriors 2.