The Japanese mega-franchise Dragon Ball continues to entertain fans all over the world since its inception in the mid-1980’s. It provides a wealth of entertainment in the form of anime, manga, video games, and more. However, one spinoff of the Dragon Ball universe is just now finally making its North American debut. Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission is available now for the Nintendo Switch.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission Details
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: Trading card arcade game
Modes: Single player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Coming to America
Dragon Ball Heroes is an arcade collectible card game that debuted in Japan nearly a decade ago in 2010. Usually Dragon Ball games and spin offs come West much sooner. However, Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission marks the first time that the long-running series crosses the ocean for fans in North America.
As a tactical RPG card game, players must build teams from character cards across the Dragon Ball universe. They will then compete in head to head battles using strategy and tactics en route to securing victory. There are certainly no shortage of cards to choose from, as Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission features cards from across ten previous incarnations of the Japanese arcade battler. That’s over 1,100 cards and 350 playable characters in all!
A story to tell
Often digital versions of collectible card games (CCG’s) place very little focus on narrative. While they ultimately incorporate some sort of story campaign, it rarely feel like more than an afterthought. These modes usually serve as a tutorial at best, engaging players to learn the basics, while the true focus of the game zeroes in on pure match mechanics.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission takes another path however, with a fully-fleshed out storyline and lengthy, sprawling cinematics in between campaign matches. In fact, it rather cleverly incorporates the actual arcade CCG as a game “within” the actual game you are playing.
Taking place in the alternate reality of “Hero Town”, Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission tells the story of a world where the Dragon Ball card game is a dominant form of entertainment. Our young protagonist “Beat” is an eager new player learning the ropes of the game that has his society rapt with obsession.
However, when enemies from the “game” start crossing over to reality, the stakes become much higher. Beat must use his burgeoning skills to restore order—complete with cameos from major characters from across the Dragon Ball franchise.
Big time strategy
The strategy and tactics involved in Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission is certainly deep and rewarding. The game does a good job of easing new players in, whilst still offering a system with a complex level of mastery. It’s a textbook “easy to learn, difficult to master” scenario.
Choosing from among three unique battle classes, players will engage in a strategic game of attacking power management. Basically, by moving cards in and out of the battle arena, players determine how much damage they can deal in a given turn. There is always an advantage to throwing out more combat offence than your opponent—but doing so costs stamina that must be regenerated off the battlefield. Throwing all your offensive resources out in a single turn will leave you woefully unprotected for the next round.
On top of this, there are four unique types of card abilities that will come into play as certain conditions are met. For example, some abilities activate passively as a card enters or leaves the battle arena. Others depend on more complex requirements such as a card’s specific placement in relation to others around it. Mastering these deeper mechanics and utilizing cards and abilities to their full potential is key to success.
There is one more key element of basic gameplay in Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission, but unfortunately it’s one I’m not crazy about. Each attack phase will ultimately trigger a “Charge Impact Battle”. This consists of a moving energy bar, which tasks the player to time its impact to achieve the best results. Both participants take part, and whomever scores a higher impact charge will receive a bonus to their respect attack or defense.
The reason I’m not really a big fan of this is that it replaces some of the dependence on strategy and intelligence with what’s essentially a button-pressing minigame. It means that even with the best tactical play, momentum can still swing in another direction if a competitor can time their impact charge with more precision. Imagine playing a game of chess where a particularly clever move is weakened based on who drops their piece on the board in superior syncopation with a ticking metronome.
That said, while it’s not my cup of tea, I can see the appeal of this mechanic to some. It adds an extra element of active participation to the “battle”, and lets players feel as though they have a hand in taking the actual swing on the battlefield. Gamers who enjoy partial aspects of strategy but also want to feel like they are actively winding up to deal the damaging blow may find this more engaging.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission is an addictive card game with a hearty story campaign
Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission is well worth the wait for those who have patiently anticipated its overseas debut. It makes a strong effort to build a world of story content around its primary card battle gameplay. And with so many cards, characters, and references, Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission is brimming with content for those with a strong investment in the Dragon Ball franchise.
I would be happier if the game didn’t incorporate a timing minigame that frankly takes away from the overall impact of pure strategy. Nevertheless the tactical mechanics are sufficiently deep that they still rule over nearly every aspect of success or failure. It’s certain that some players will ultimately enjoy the bit of extra variety this feature adds.
+ Heavy story element
+ Deep strategy and tactical gameplay
+ Tons of characters and references to the entire Dragon Ball universe
– Timing mechanics that detract from the importance of strategy
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF SUPER DRAGON BALL HEROES WORLD MISSION
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5