Dude, I got so blasted last night.
Unfortunately, I don’t mean that in the drugs-and-alcohol sense (although that’s not to say they weren’t a part of it). I mean it in the quite literal “an animé nut Dragoned my balls in this video game” sense. That’s the thing with Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 – and I’m fairly confident with the whole series – only hardcore fans are going to get any kind of long-term enjoyment out of it.
[image1]I, of course, have a perspective quite the opposite of hardcore. I’ve never cared about the series or its parade of characters and never-ending battle scenes. But, like everyone else, I do have similar obsessions (I <3 you, Yu-Gi-Oh!), so while I may not be able to relate to DB fans specifically, I can certainly comprehend their fierce loyalty when it comes to their favorite low-budget animated franchise. It’s in that spirit that I’m trying to review this game.
*ahem* So, now that I am a temporarily insane Dragon Ball maniac, I have to say I just love the look of Raging Blast 2. Where less cultured gamers may see a generic (but nonetheless well-done) cel-shaded fighting extravaganza, I see amazingly fluid animations and bright color palettes that really capture the spirit of the animé. The arenas, by contrast, are bland as hell and tend to repeat a bit too often as you play longer, but it’s easy to overlook that, when the characters draw your eye in so well.
The look and feel of the game is pure Dragon Ball so I feel right at home. It’s a shame that despite having more modes than you can shake a Krillin at (I sound natural, don’t I?), there isn’t a real story mode anywhere in this package. Galaxy mode, Battle mode, blah-blah mode – they all basically boil down to just fighting random opponents in various challenges.
Then there’s the fighting, which is a whole lot of confusion for not a lot of payoff. The controls are incredibly convoluted, some of which involve holding one or two buttons down and pushing another, many of which involve tilting directions on either analog stick, and still more involving doing all of that stuff and linking them together in combos. Oh, the signature special moves are in there for the whole gigantic character roster and they do look glorious. But mashing the simplest button combos eventually proves to be more effective, because the recovery mechanics are terribly finicky and you can often get your opponent stuck in a nearly infinite loop of regular attacks.
[image2]The game’s as big as a (Namekian) dragon ball itself in terms of unlockables. About half of the 50+ character roster is available to start. You’ll have to spend many hours with single-player modes to unlock the rest, and that’s not including the “enhanced” versions of all of them. Add to that tons of unlockable items with which to customize your characters and still screens of classic moments from the animé to earn, and you’ve got a long road of dragon-y, ball-y fun ahead of you. Just be warned: Someone who’s not a fan of the series will quickly find the whole thing repetitive (but why in Saiyan’s name would you be playing this if you’re not?).
All right, the last bit to cover is the multiplayer, and for that I have to drop the act. You can battle it out online against anyone in the world, and while the matches are as smooth as butter without so much as a hiccup to interrupt the action, I still stopped playing pretty fast. Why? Because the majority of the time I was pitted against Japanese players (no surprise) who royally blasted me each and every time. Yeah, I was being serious about that before. Since the audience for this game skews heavily toward the die-hard Japanese DB fans who clearly spend lots of time practicing their crazy combos and feel right at home with the dizzying controls, it’s real tough to enjoy your time online unless you put in the same effort.
So maybe you’ve guessed by now what you most assuredly assumed from the beginning – that Raging Blast 2 is a raging good time for fans and an easy pass for anyone else. I try, however, to judge things like this from the perspective of its intended audience. I never thought I’d say this, but that actually means that the Dragon Ball brand improves the score. If it were just any old fighting game, it’d be more in the 'C' range.
But if I were a fan, I’d enjoy it a bit more because it does feel like an authentic, quality (relatively speaking) Dragon Ball experience. I think it’s fair in cases like this to judge the product from that point of view. And besides, who else is even going to consider buying this game anyway?