Sorry Dragon Ball Z. These titles are a unique presence on the fighting calendar; an imposter of sorts. Squint and it almost looks like a beat-‘em-up: meaty roster, health bars, combos and counters; people could fall for it. Boot it up and the facade thuds to the ground. Throw a punch, sure, but only if Dragon Ball lore foretells it.
You see, Raging Blast is less a brawler than a historical re-creation simulation. The aim of the game isn’t to master one character and prove prowess over all others, but to recall the plot of Dragon Ball and ensure the episodes play without deviation. So: Goku and Piccolo pair up against Raditz not because this is a tag-team of strategic note, but because this is how it played out in the manga.
Hopping between characters through a disjointed solo mode is one thing. When narrative beats begin to interrupt our fighting? We no like. Imagine a beating in progress. Darting into the sky, Goku charges a furious flurry of chi, only for a cutscene to butt in – Goku didn’t win like this, after all. At best it throws your concentration, at worst it kicks you in the nuts, swapping characters on a whim or healing an opponent because ‘this is when he magically revived in the manga’. Crazy.
Ignore the fanboyishness ingrained in the code and Raging Blast remains a disaster. Combat revolves around charging up super attacks, those mile-wide lightshows that define the series. Charging can’t be done on the move, turning matches into bizarro bouts of evasive hide and seek. A cycle emerges: lob foes into the stratosphere, squat behind a mountain and crank out enough power to insta-melt the spiky haired sucker opposite you with a super-duper space blast.
Are we missing the point here? Is Raging Blast simply fan service taken to its alarming logical conclusion? Several sagas’ worth of brawling, what-if scenarios (what if Kid Trunks fought Future Trunks, etc) and encyclopaedic factoids would suggest as much, but there’s little here you couldn’t get from vegging out with anime. Hey, at least the show isn’t interrupted with truly awful interactive brawling every two minutes.
Nov 10, 2009