Dragonball: Evolution review

  • Unlockable sketches/storyboards
  • Goku's bloated face on the cover
  • Any other recent DBZ fighter instead
  • Bland, button-mashing action
  • Horrific text-based cut-scenes
  • Dropping $40 on this cash-in

Each new Dragon Ball Z game is usually met with a wave of intense fandom – simply put, people loooove Dragon Ball. But we have to believe even the most ardent and hardcore fans will see past the ruse that is Dragonball: Evolution, a drab fighter further decimated by frankly embarrassing production values.

Dragon Ball Z fighters usually find success via an established mixture of flash and extensive content that delivers a reasonable sensation of what it might feel like to fight against other super-beings. Evolution, based on the live-action American film of the same name, instead significantly tones down the action and ends up with a 2D fighter that feels like a really simplistic version of Tekken.

Transformations are MIA, special moves are limited, and there's no world map to fly around – nay, Dragonball: Evolution is a straight-up button-masher. Frantically tapping the square and triangle buttons on all but the highest difficulty level will get you through most battles, and the game makes little effort to instruct you otherwise. And unlike the dozens of characters seen in earlier DBZ games, Evolution contains just 11 characters and environments, each as nondescript as the last. Without compelling character actions and enemy intelligence, it's hard to believe this bland, straightforward fighter will keep anyone interested for long.

Evolution would have been just another mediocre PSP fighter, but bargain basement presentation manages to make things significantly worse. The Story mode is the centerpiece of Evolution's offerings, but over the course of nearly two nonsensical hours, you may spend only 20 minutes fighting. Instead of filling the gaps with UMD-friendly film clips or fully voiced in-game cinemas, you'll instead be greeted by text-only interactions between static images of the film actors.

Fights between Son Goku and school bullies are not played or actually shown; rather, Goku's image scrolls across the screen and nudges the other character's mug shot. When a female character blushes, you don't see it – you read "*blushes*."  As if the injection of high school drama into a franchise about badass martial artists wasn't lame enough, it's nearly impossible to follow the story when a game capable of showing you the frantic action instead opts to tell it to you via short conversational bursts.

But that feeling of cheap, lazy design resonates throughout Dragonball: Evolution, a game that ultimately seems more concerned with how often it displays the faces of the film's cast rather than creating legitimate use for them.

Apr 10, 2009

More Info

Release date: Apr 08 2009 - PSP (US)
Available Platforms: PSP
Genre: Fighting
Published by: Namco Bandai
Developed by: Dimps
Franchise: Dragon Ball
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes


  • JR24 - June 24, 2009 1:43 a.m.

    This sucks Balls!!! It's a stupid game that try to make Dragon ball Z more real with regular Japanese people and failed hatefully! I say return it for a refund and smack at the person to tell you to buy it or sold it to you. >=(
  • Yoj1mbo - April 14, 2009 5:50 p.m.

    the antonym for evolution is devolution. simple
  • RebornKusabi - April 13, 2009 6:32 p.m.

    I got over Dragonball Z when I was 12 (I'm 22 now) but even I can admit that this movie and this game are an abomination of epic proportions! I still to this day love Dragonball though (not Z or GT) and seeing this makes my eyes rain...
  • mEgAzD - April 13, 2009 11:22 a.m.

    There are no words for this atrocity..
  • pibsh - April 13, 2009 6:28 a.m.

    this has to be one of the biggest dissapointments ever.i mean if you are going to make a movie based on a badas manga and show at least let a good director or producer make the movie it wouldve been awsome if spielbierg or quentin tarantino made this movie,and dont even get me started on the game budokai #1 is way way better than that piece of shit
  • Diamondis - April 12, 2009 1:48 a.m.

    Hmm... This or Tekken 6?
  • Coolbeans69 - April 11, 2009 3:24 p.m.

    Holy crap did anyone else see yamcha in that first screen? He looked like a middle aged asian man!
  • Lavos - April 11, 2009 5:20 a.m.

    Hmmmmm... It's seems to me that they took an awesome franchise and turned it into crap. Not entirely unexpected.
  • - April 11, 2009 1:12 a.m.

    I don't even see what the story is..... it's like they took Dragonball (a classic manga series) and turned it into some messed up shit with some dragonballs thrown in to relate back to the series. The director and script writer should go die in a small dark hole where they won't be found....
  • iKOemos - April 11, 2009 12:57 a.m.

    This sucks balls
  • Pyro240 - April 11, 2009 12:19 a.m.

  • RockandRolla - May 16, 2009 1:07 a.m.

    The MOvie sucked balls, the game sucked balls, but the tv was awsome!!!!!! The only reason the movie sucked is because it only had a budget of 1 million dollars. Now i guess it wasn't tht bad 4 the money it was able to spend
  • Corsair89 - April 13, 2009 5:53 p.m.

  • jimsondanet - April 12, 2009 9:16 a.m.

    it will turn a profit. unfortunately. my theory is that any western iteration of DBZ will suck donkey balls. lets just dismiss this as a bastard of adultery and never speak of it again. (until the next GR feature on rubbish movie games)
  • Defguru7777 - April 12, 2009 12:21 a.m.

    Who thought that this was a good idea?
  • jar-head - April 11, 2009 11:56 p.m. has some vital info on this game, to the core
  • garnsr - April 11, 2009 6:37 p.m.

    UMDs aren't that cheap to produce, are they? Why make such a terrible game on a system that doesn't even have a cheap medium?
  • GoldenMe - April 11, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa......whoa So they made a game based off a terrible movie based off a good anime? And expected it to sell?! I lost faith in all movie makers now. And the producers that actually agree to make this shit.
  • Samael - April 11, 2009 1:27 a.m.

    Fuck the Movie. Fuck this Game. LONG LIVE DRAGON BALL AND DRAGON BALL Z.

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