Falling off Snake Way.
Here lies the first mission of Dragonball Z: Infinite World:
[image1]You are Goku, the Asian Superman, the super-human based off the legendary super-monkey in The Journey to the West, the super martial artist who can fire super fireballs and soar through the clouds in a super-stream of chi. Raditz, a barbaric Saiyan who claims to be your older brother, has come from the outskirts of the universe, flown to your house, knocked you to the floor, and kidnapped your son Gohan in his plans to conquer Earth. You stand up from the ground slowly, and as Dragonball Z fans know, it’s time for you to kick some alien butt.
So in order to reach Raditz and claim your revenge, you have to jump through gates. Let me repeat that. You jump, as in hippedy-hoppity… through gates, as in blue, twirling hexagons framed by metal. The goal is to find and jump through seven of them, because you are by all means a man-horse who likes to leap through shiny neon geometric shapes. Why? So you… Can advance... To the next level. Oh, and you also collect floating coins. And there’s a time limit. And you’re graded.
It takes something really (not) special to be worse than the first level of Superman 64, where you fly The Man of Steel through four rings and have him throw cars before the time runs out. Here, Goku has actually forgotten how to fly, which means you have to wander around a green landscape with plastered rocks and trees, hop and dash like a rabbit on crack, and figure out how to reach that spinning gate on top of that rock… so that you can reach that other spinning gate on top of that other rock.
I can’t be kind about this. Not only does this not make any sense since it’s quite clear in the Dragonball Z series that he and Piccolo actually fly to Raditz’s spaceship, but Atari has forgotten what fans of the PS2 Dragonball titles like – beating people with super-powered punches and kicks and blowing shit up with energy blasts. If we wanted to play as a normal human, we would be Hercule and… ummm… sorry, completing this sentence hurts me.
[image2]It’s easy to sympathize with the developers, though, since they
got themselves into are in a tight design spot. After creating three installments of Dragonball Z: Budokai and another three installments of Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi, anyone would say, “Hey, maybe we should try something new." Or in other words, “Let’s do the same thing but with a neat twist!”
much of all of the fighting that Budokai veterans know and love remains the same, and it’s the bulk of what you do whether you’re in the story-based Dragon Mission, the versus Dragon Duel, or the unlockable Fighter’s Road. The one-on-one, cel-shaded fightfest is still about using basic strikes and throws, building up chi for energy attacks, transforming into a higher state so you can perform a devastating hyper-move, and buying extra skills for your characters with the zenny (coins) you earn (and coping with yet another rock-synth-blergh soundtrack by Hironobu Kageyama).
As usual, you can complain over how every character pretty much plays the same way, with some even borrowing complete attack combos from others. The word “cookie-cutter” comes to mind, but that makes them sound more delicious than they actually are. The fighting system is solid and simple, but that’s only because it’s been copied and pasted about five or six times over. Honestly, the best thing you can say about the cast is that they are all characters that fans of both Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT actually care about playing. (I look forward to any angry emails from all fans of Garlic Jr. That’s right, all eight of you.)
Infinite World tries to mix things up with a smattering of side diversions, but the last thing I want to do when I’m a kickass Saiyan is to jump through hoops (literally), go on fetch quests with a time limit, and press buttons with the correct timing as their icons scroll along the bottom of the screen. (Sorry, Vegeta isn’t a guitar hero. If anything, he uses guitars for target practice.)
[image3]Most of these mini-games are lackluster snapshots of various genres, the most inspired of which is a shooting bit where Tien has to stall Cell by using successive Tri-Beam blasts, just as he does in the series. But even then, it’s stale, repetitive, and irritating. Catching the banana-peel-throwing monkey Bubbles is tedious. Running the entire length of Snake Way is snooze-inducing. Having to jump through gates while lightning strikes you is maddening. Like the casting for the upcoming Dragonball Z movie, something is just not right.
Oddly, it’s almost as if Atari realized about halfway through that nobody wants to do these non-fighting missions, and by the time you play through the epilogue of Dragon Mission to unlock Fighter’s Road, most of your missions are standard battles. What ultimately happens is that in the first half, the side diversions squeezed in between battles make Dragon Mission a bore, and by the second half, all of the fighting has lost its interest. Worse yet, you have to go through Dragon Mission twice to unlock all of the characters for versus mode.
There’s very little reason to pick up Dragonball Z: Infinite World. Even Dragonball fans will likely find that the only allure is the fighting, but if that’s the case, they’re better off popping back in Budokai 3 or anything that doesn’t force them to do side-chores. But if you’re among the most diehard of diehard wish-they-had-a-monkey-tail Dragonball devotees, I have a plan for you: Find each of the seven Dragonballs, summon Shenron (or Shen Long for you Japanophiles), wish for a game that actually lives up to the Dragonball name, and hope that it’s within Shenron’s power to grant. Oh, and stay far, far away from me.