Putting a Dragon Ball Z game on Kinect is one of those ideas that, in retrospect, seems incredibly obvious. Given how many fans of the series already have a habit of pantomiming Kamehamehas and Spirit Bombs, giving them a game that actually rewards them for doing it seems like a natural next step.
If you’ve played a DBZ fighting game in the last few years, you already know roughly what to expect: more of the same, but in first-person. Our brief hands-on centered on a one-on-one aerial fight against Raditz, the long-haired Saiyan warrior who was the first to fight series hero Goku. (Goku was also the default main character for this fight, although at least 50 others are unlockable via collectible cards imprinted with QR codes; we used one to unlock and play as Yamcha instead.)
As Yamcha’s fists floated in front of us onscreen, we did our best to throw punches and kicks (although the latter tended to be translated as more punches); throwing a few punches in quick succession usually resulted in Yamcha getting locked into a (third-person) quick time event, executing a flurry of close-quarters attacks while followed an onscreen prompt to do the same until a meter had been filled. Then, Yamcha would boot Raditz toward the horizon, fly after him and start the flurry over again a couple more times until finally booting him toward the ground.
While flailing at the air was the easiest course of action, it was far from the only one open to us. We could also zip toward Raditz by leaning forward, and block his attacks by holding up our arms in front of our faces. And, of course, we could build up Yamcha’s spirit energy to enable more powerful attacks, something we did by crouching with our fists out to our sides. Holding that pose for a while (no screaming or growling necessary) built up an onscreen meter that enabled us to throw fireballs with open-palm punching motions, and – once it had been filled at least halfway – to execute one of two super attacks by striking unique poses (displayed onscreen).
In practice, this took a few tries to pull off (although it’s hard to say whether this was because of the game, the Kinect sensor or our own lack of physical coordination), but the payoff – a giant, searing blast of energy that took a huge chunk off Raditz’s health – was nonetheless pretty sweet. Hopefully the game will get a little more responsive as it marches toward its October release date (at which point it’ll have story and score attack modes to go with its first-person flailing), but however it shakes out, it’s already an overdue idea that potentially holds huge appeal for DBZ fans.