When Dragon Ball FighterZ was announced for the Nintendo Switch at E3 2018 I was shocked. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure that Arc System Works would be able to bring the full experience over to the Switch. After all, we’ve seen a few titles that developers have cut corners when porting to the Switch.
Since June, I’ve been wondering if the final game would meet my lofty expectations. Let’s take a look and find out!
Dragon Ball FighterZ Details
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen 13+)
A lengthy campaign mode
One of Dragon Ball FighterZ‘s largest attractions is its meaty campaign featuring most characters on the roster. Nothing has been cut from the Switch version either! You get the same full experience offered on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
You can expect this mode to last anywhere from 12-15 hours. The single-player story is a great gateway for those new to the series. Long-time Dragon Ball enthusiasts also get treated to surprise returns and plenty of fan service along this lengthy rollercoaster ride.
In a nutshell, the game’s story is split into three arcs that tell events from different characters’ perspectives. Each arc is divided into nine chapters for a total of 27 chapters in all. Another important detail is everything occurs after the events of the anime, so expect characters to acknowledge their shared history.
On top of frequent cutscenes during the story, you can also trigger extra clips if you meet specific criteria. This could be by including specific characters in your three-person party, or after leveling them up.
An action-packed Story Mode with RPG elements
One of the neater aspects of the game’s campaign is that every chapter is setup like a board game. It’s essentially a connected grid and you’re allotted a certain amount one-space moves used to get around. Your goal is make your way over to the chapter’s boss and defeat them before your turns are used up. There’s little reason to worry though as you’re given ample turns to complete each stage.
Story mode injects some RPG elements to further spice things up. For starters, your characters gain XP after winning a battle and periodically level up. This increases their stats, most importantly their total HP so you can take more punishment before going down.
You’ll also receive “Player Skill” items post-battle that when equipped can raise your characters’ stat. This includes dealing extra damage, healing during matches, beginning with your Ki gauge partially charged, and much more. When you combine all these interesting RPG components with the breathtaking anime cutscenes, you have what could be considered the best campaign for a fighting game yet.
Easy to pickup controls with deep rich combat
One of the best qualities of Dragon Ball FighterZ is that it is super easy to get into. The combat in a series of detailed tutorials teach you everything from dashing, to blocking, to performing super moves. Additionally, the campaign also has tutorial missions that further drive home the various techniques introduced.
As easy as it is to get into the game, however, there are plenty of advanced tricks to master. One such skilled move is the universal “Vanish” that all characters possess. This lets you teleport before your opponent for a sneak attack or to continue a combo.
As well, all characters have a “Super Dash” move, which is basically a homing attack. Super Dashes work omnidirectional, meaning you’ll zone in on your opponent no matter where you’re positioned. Since all characters can teleport and use homing attacks, it’s really simple to close gaps and keep the pressure on.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is all about racking up huge combos, too. It’s not uncommon to chain together light, medium, strong, and super moves to achieve 30- and 40-hit combos. Ki blasts are another weapon in your repertoire, such as Goku’s signature half-screen Kamehameha energy attack. These moves fill up your Ki gauge used to perform the aforementioned Vanish attack, or to unleash super special moves.
An anime episode you control
Each year it seems like Bandai Namco gets one step closer to their ultimate goal—a playable anime. And, Dragon Ball FighterZ feels like the next big evolution. In fact, a quick glance at the game and you may think it actually is an episode of the anime.
The graphics look almost as good as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox versions of the game—a phenomenal accomplishment. However, in handheld mode you can tell there is a resolution drop. I was quite impressed with the attention to detail that went into creating all 24 playable characters.
Goku, Trunks, Frieza, and other fan-favourites are animated with such pixel-perfect authenticity you’d swear they leapt straight from the show. I should also mention the cutscenes are exceptionally well-animated and often sprinkle in an abundance of comedy. Furthermore, the voice work is mostly excellent although on a rare few occasions it can sound a bit off.
There are a few hitches in Dragon Ball FighterZ on the Switch. Occasionally during cutscenes and super moves I noticed some frame drops. Luckily, this doesn’t have any repercussions in battle.
Arcade and Online modes
Rounding out Dragon Ball FighterZ are the Arcade and Online modes. With Arcade you’ll battle your way through several fights in hopes of unlocking a few additional characters. For online matches, head on over to the World Match Reception used to battle players on your server. You can set various matching conditions, such as your opponent’s connection strength and battle level.
For added fun, Dragon Ball FighterZ offers a Replay Reception where you can view replays from top players around the world. You can also view your own saved replays as well as watch clips uploaded by the developers themselves. Finally, there’s also an online leaderboard Rankings area, showing overall player rankings and monthly win rankings.
Does Dragon Ball FighterZ offer the same experience on the Switch as other console versions?
Dragon Ball FighterZ is an incredible feat on the Nintendo Switch. It is a fighting game that more than lives up to the hype. You’ll find everything here that the other consoles versions have, nothing has been cut. I was impressed at the level of visual fidelity that they managed to retain for Nintendo’s hybrid console.
As much as I am impressed with the game’s graphics, the gameplay is what kept me coming back for more. In addition, the game’s lengthy campaign is sure to please diehard fans, or attract new ones. Dragon Ball FighterZ is quite possibly the best fighting game to date on the Switch.
+ Beautiful anime graphics
+ Excellent single-player campaign
+ Large roster full of fan-favourites + Fast and fluid gameplay
+ Easy on newcomers, but deep enough to please veterans
– Does not include DLC characters released on other consoles
– Occasional lag online
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF Dragon Ball FighterZ
Last Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 4.3/5 (86%)