Brawlers on the Nintendo DS are usually less than stellar. That’s one of my biggest complaints, the lack of fighters on the system. While Dragon Ball Z Supersonic Warriors 2 and Jump Ultimate Stars were good, they soon showed their limitations with no note-worthy new releases in sight, that is… until Dragon Ball Kai Ultimate Butouden came along. Butouden came out of left field on February 3rd 2011 and delivered what is quite possibly the best fighting experience for the Nintendo DS. It’s a continuation of the Super Nintendo’s DBZ Butouden series, and it successfully captures the feel of the originals, while meshing it with new-school DBZ game styles. Think Street Fighter + DBZ Budokai and you may know what I’m getting at.
The Fighting: The fighting is a breath of fresh air. We’ve been bombarded with Tenkaichi and Budokai style games for so long (though they’re not bad), and now the DS brings along something that’s new without compromising any of the fun. It’s pretty simple really. The Y button is for weak attacks while the X for strong attacks. A is for grabbing and B is for dodging. You double tap Up or Down on the directional pad to… well ya know. It shouldn’t be that hard to figure it out. There is no block button. The way to deflect ki blasts is to simply do nothing. That’s right, if you see a blast headed towards you, press nothing and your character will block or deflect it automatically. Don’t let that put you off, it works pretty well once you’ve adjusted to it. Unlike most other DBZ fighters, not every character’s special attacks are executed with the same button combinations, which actually is a good thing. It gives an air of uniqueness to each character. In games like the Tenkaichi series, each fighter is discernible only by their appearance and special abilities. Otherwise they’d appear to be complete clones with minimal difference in fighting styles. Sometimes during hectic game-play, Butouden does seem to suffer a noticeable drop in frame-rate, and while it isn’t a deal breaker, it is rather unpleasant.
If there is one bad thing I had to say about this game, it’s that there are no in-game transformations. Surprisingly though, the fighting is challenging and offers enough DBZ appeal that I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would.The Story Mode: If you read my Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team review for PSP, you know I had a beef with that game’s story mode. Thankfully though, Ultimate Butouden did it the right way. There’s no lame over-world map with repetitive battles, no RPGish feel that doesn’t belong in fighting games. Just straight out fighting with a straight-forward story. The game captures the series’ most dramatic moments with cinematic flare with a hand from the original Japanese voice actors. Sure, we’ve seen this done before, but never on a portable device.
SPOILER ALERT: In one of the What If stories, the roles get reversed for Goku and Krillin on Namek. Frieza blows Goku up and Krillin goes Super… Human??? and kicks some alien ass. If you need a reference or a better description of how the story is presented, think back to how it was done on the original Dragon Ball Z Budokai game, or just watch the video above.
The Character Roster: Ultimate Butouden has a surprisingly deep character roster. There are some omissions of course, but most every desirable character can be found here. Check the bottom of the page for a full list of every available character.
Graphics and Sound: Butouden is actually among the finer looking games on the DS portable. Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges sometimes but that’s easily forgivable. Each character was given a semi-chibi look, and considering it’s a DS we’re talking about, they each look quite well. And continuing a tradition long-held in DBZ fighters, Butouden also has a few catchy tunes, including the official Dragon Ball Kai theme song. The Planet Namek theme is my favorite, by far.
The game also features a variety of game modes along with the ability to customize your fighters, and this time not just in the power department. Ultimate Butouden offers players the option to edit any character’s appearance. So if you’d like to, you can give Future Trunk’s sword to Goku or to Kid Trunks, or even equip Kid Gohan with the red Dragon Ball hat that he wore on the very first episode of Dragon Ball Z. For satire’s sake, you can even give that same red hat to Frieza lol. But there is one option I’d love, but have yet to see implemented in a Dragon Ball Z game. That is the option to fully create a brand new character, from name, to eye style, attire, hair, lineage (Saiyan, Human or Alien) and even the moveset, much like the Create A Superstar modes in the long-running WWE SVR series..
Pros: Hmmm, not much… only everything
Cons: There isn’t much to be upset about here minus a few minor peeves, but even these don’t really quell my enthusiasm for Ultimate Butouden.
1) No in-game transformations, but that’s not a major turn-off. The fighting is good enough as is.
2) Noticeable drop in frame-rate (slow-down) during intense fights
3) No North American release date: Seriously… The first GREAT Dragon Ball fighter in a while, and bar none thee best fighter for DS, and we probably won’t even get an official release outside of Japan? That’s just shameful
Dragon Ball Kai: Ultimate Butouden – Character Roster:
Goku: Super Saiyan 1
Goku: Super Saiyan 2
Goku: Super Saiyan 3
Teen Gohan: Super Saiyan 1
Teen Gohan: Super Saiyan 2
Adult Gohan Super Saiyan 1
Goten: Super Saiyan
Vegeta: Super Saiyan 1
Vegeta: Super Saiyan 2
Kid Trunks: Super Saiyan
Gotenks: Super Saiyan 3
Piccolo (Nail, the lone Namek who stood up to Frieza to protect The Namek Elder and the Dragon Balls, is an alternate costume)
King Kai (For the first time ever, King Kai is a playable character in a Dragon Ball fighting game)
Future Trunks: Blue Jacket (Future Trunks with Saiyan armor is an alternate costume)
Future Trunks: Super Saiyan
Frieza: Final Form (Base form Frieza is an alternate costume)
Broly: Legendary Super Saiyan
Cell : Perfect Form
Android 20 aka Dr.Gero