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Dragon Ball: Evolution Review

KevinS By:
GENRE Fighting 
PUBLISHER Namco Bandai Games 
DEVELOPER 20th Century Fox, CriWare 
T Contains Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Boy, do I have a wish...

So... somebody thought it was a good idea to make a game based around a movie developed from an animé derived from a manga. Whomever had this idea popped into their head – and then proceeded to write a script, hire a production staff and actors – should be trampled by the largest, smelliest band of fanboys this planet has ever known.

click to enlargeThat would be a sight to see, more so than the movie, and more amusing then trying to sit and “play” this piece of digital blasphemy. As a rule [unless you have 'Goldeneye' or 'Riddick' in your title ~Ed.], movie-based games are not to be trusted, and this title is a model to show.

As soon as I heard about this game coming out, I kept getting flashbacks of one game in my past: my Sega Saturn copy of Street Fighter: The Movie. Unlike Dragonball Evolution, SF:TM stayed close to the source material, meaning for what it was, it still felt like it was playable, just a different skin on the same game I knew and loved. The moves, the characters - they looked and felt similar enough that I was playing what I expected to play. In Dragonball Evolution's case, I expected something similar to the last few DBZ games, complete with flight and fireballs. What I got was a low-end port of a crummy 3-D fighting game from at least a generation ago. With a couple of fireballs.

Nothing about this game feels like any actual effort was put into it. To put this into perspective, a role-playing game based around a Hello Kitty movie starring Vin Diesel would have better drawing material. All of the dialog is exactly what is spoken in the film. The developers didn't try for a unique experience to accompany the movie; they didn't try for a re-telling of the story in an interactive form; they didn't even try to clean up what was (hopefully) a clueless first-draft.

Mainstays of the Dragonball universe are absent entirely: Where's Krillin (Kuririn)? Is Emporer Pilaf off somewhere cooking up a plan of his own? Were Tien and Chiaoutzu just chillin' in the club? Available in the game are only ten characters, made even smaller by the fact that each of them play way too alike. Some originality is a good thing, people!

click to enlargeAs far as appearance, each character is blocky and feels stiff, with jerky and sometimes slow movements that stall everything in the middle of a match. The environments, though, are large which is good for any of the Dragonball titles - as in the lore, fighters need plenty of space to move around and charge up and throw attacks. And to its credit, this game does scale the size of each arena well. But none of the environments are particularly nice-looking or noteworthy, leaving each area with that “not so fresh” feeling. Every background is basically static, stereotypical, and dull... just like the character models.

Seriously, there is nothing here that hasn't already been seen in a thousand other fighting games. The options available are Story, Arcade, Network Battle (a versus mode), Training, Mission and Survival. Survival goes on so long as you keep winning; Arcade means fighting every other character; and Mission is a bunch of challenges such as “perform x move” and... yeah. None of them particularly stand out, though Survival mode is fairly easy if you're looking just to build up the cash for unlocking the “special” items in the Gallery. It's as basic as fighting games come nowadays.

The story mode is verbatim a re-spewing of the movie's storyline. If the movie had been worth watching, it might've been fun to go through it again, but as it stands I would rather spend my hour-plus (it took me as much time to play through the story as it took to watch the film; I clocked them each at about an hour-fifteen). I could have been doing something more productive. Like, for example, I could wash my car in the rain. Or program the VCRs of everyone in my neighborhood. Or use my little-handheld-that-could to swat flies.

Seriously, if I had to choose between this and one of the Buger Burger King games, I would rather spend time playing virtual bumper cars or scaring loggers with coffee and breakfast sandwiches than plug this into my PSP again.

click to enlargeAll of the extras are development materials from the movie, which could be somewhat interesting if the movie wasn't as horrible as it was. I think storyboards can be interesting, especially when they're laying out a rockin' fight scene that can make or break a big-budget film, but when the film being talked about is a step below even Uwe Boll's standards, fun and amusement is just a fond memory. And paying virtual cash to unlock pictures of the sets used to make the movie? Seriously, how bored do these programmers think we are? I would rather drive and take my own pictures of where I would have preferred the movie take place.

At least then I'd have motivation to start pushing buttons. But instead, I found myself doing one of two things: either mashing one of the two normal attack buttons, or charging up my energy bar to unleash a super attack and unleashing an over-powered attack that took down my opponent's life bar to about half.

Dragonball “Evolution” you say? More like Dragonball: A Couple Steps Back. If there ever was a game to be pointed to and laughed at, it would be this one.
D- Revolution report card
  • Scales well for large environments
  • Technically playable
  • Graphics from ten years ago
  • Barebones controls
  • Ridiculously bad script
  • Throwaway extras
  • Everything else
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.

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More information about Dragon Ball: Evolution
Also known as: Dragon Ball Evolution, Dragonball Evolution, Dragonball: Evolution