Sweet as Syrup: Dragon Ball Fusions Review

I know I’ve been talking about Dragon Ball an awful lot on this blog, but it’s a series I find myself being drawn back into by the newer games and shows. Even though I have voiced my distaste for the new Dragon Ball anime, I still found myself enjoying the show in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way. However, a month ago I received this awesome gift from my good friend 92Days. It was a Dragon Ball game that I had never played before, but heard was awesome.

This was Dragon Ball Fusions, a game that had blown up Japan and did moderately well. I’m a huge fan of Dragon Ball and thought this would be the perfect game to write up a review on. I want to tackle other DB games in the future, such as the Legacy of Goku games, as well as the Origins series. For now, let’s start with one of the newest titles: Dragon Ball Fusions!

Background Information

Dragon Ball Fusions was a turn-based RPG for the 3DS family of consoles. It was released on August in Japan, and November in America. The game is has one of the highest number of playable characters in any Dragon Ball game ever made, with the exception of Dragon Ball Heroes and Dragon Ball: Dokkan Battle. The game sold very well in Japan, but failed to be successful in America due to an extreme lack of advertising.

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Weird self-insert Dragon Ball characters: The Videogame

Plot

The game starts in an unknown year in Dragon World (The primary setting of the series) and focuses on two youths. These two young men are Tekka (Who’s appearance, name, and abilities are up to the player to choose) and a Saiyan named Pinich. You are best friends with Pinich, though the game never goes into detail on how you met or how you know him. You’re just kind of friends because… Reasons.

Anyway, the two of you summon Shenron in order to wish for the ultimate martial arts tournament. Unfortunately, the wish goes wrong and all of the various realities and timelines of the Dragon Ball universe become merged into one. This includes the original Dragon Ball show, Z, GT, Super, as well as fair amount of the movies. Your main character is partnered with four other characters: Pan, Kid Goku, Goten, and Trunks.

Of course, you’ll obtain hundreds of other characters, but these will be your starting teammates. They will also appear in all cutscenes, even if they aren’t in your party. The teammates themselves feel very developed for a kids game and the writers of this game pay very close attention to detail. A lot of the entertainment value of the plot comes with how the characters work off of each other. The interactions lead a lot of in-jokes that long-time fans will get a kick out of.

Having all these different versions of all these classic characters interacting with each other adds a fair bit of depth and comedy to the proceedings. However, I couldn’t help but feel the story felt a bit formulaic. I appreciated that there wasn’t any hamstrung morals shoved in my face, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that the plot felt underdeveloped. It’s simple and easy to follow, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s almost too simplistic, yet remains entertaining throughout.

Still, the plot was enjoyable for it was. It was silly, nonsensical, and somewhat short, but had a lot of heart to it. The game developers put a lot of thought into making a living-breathing world that encapsulated all of the various Dragon Ball universes, and I’d say that they succeeded hands-down! However, the story is just the appetizer when it comes to what I look for in a game. Time to move on to the main course!

Gameplay

Dragon Ball Fusions is by nature an open-world strategy RPG, a turn-based RPG that focuses on you building a party and having them do battle with other teams. I’m not usually a fan of this king of RPG, however Dragon Ball Fusions managed to get me both interested and invested in its gameplay and world. The game’s combat is primarily focused on having teams of 5 fighting each other. You control a party of 5, as does the opponents you go up against.

Battles take place from an isometric view. You control each party member individually, as does your opponent. The speed of each individual character determines when their move comes up next, relative to their teammates and opponents. This means having a higher speed gives you a combat advantage when compared to your opponents. When it’s your turn, you are a given variety of options of how to proceed. You can do melee attacks, ki blasts, special attacks, or even unique abilities that are specific to the character you play as. This adds a lot of much needed variety to the characters and combat, and having the right blend of characters and special attacks can guarantee you a victory.

There are three different types to consider when choosing which characters to attack with: Speed, Power, and Technique. These different types are strong and weak against the others, in a sort of rock-paper-scissors formation. Sadly, you’ll rarely ever need to take the type advantages into consideration when playing the main game and most of its side-content. Usually, certain attacks and abilities are going to guarantee you victory no matter the type.

The combat sadly lacks balance. Certain moves can just decimate your opponent (such as Energy Burst or Full Power Kamehameha) and this can lead to a lot of enemies overpowering your team using cheap tactics. The unbalanced combat unfortunately makes the game’s online multiplayer a bit problematic as well. The lack of balance turns strategic online battles into games of “Who can turn into a Super Saiyan first?”. Online multiplayer also has a tendency to chug like crazy whenever you perform a Zenkai Attack or Ultra Fusion. This immense amount of lag causes online play to move at a snail’s pace.

The biggest draw of the game is the EX Fusion system. In Dragon Ball, fusions were usually only limited to certain characters. Fusions were always used sparingly and were almost entirely useless most of the time. EX Fusions are different, as they allow you to fuse all sorts of characters to together. Your custom main character can fuse with anyone, while all the other characters in the game are limited to fusing with specific characters. Fusing two characters together can generate a substantially more powerful character, but other times it can hold back a particularly strong character. It’s a pretty unique system that allows for flexibility, and allows you mix and match to your heart’s content.

The game has over 1000 characters to obtain, if you include EX fusions and Ultra Fusions. Ultra Fusions are simply limit breaks that involve you fusing all 5 of your party members together. While you can do some serious damage with this attack, it also leaves you wide open after you use it. Then there is the crux of this entire game: EX Fusions. This gives the game a lot of replay value, as you’ll find yourself collecting characters long after the credits have rolled. While I like the EX Fusion system, I won’t deny that it has some problems. For one thing, if you want to de-fuse a character, you have to go through the arduous task of reassigning the specials moves to each specific character. This slows down the EX Fusion process considerably, and often causes me to ignore the system entirely.

Another problem with EX Fusion is that some of the fusions look downright ugly, especially the ones involving the generic NPCs. You’re bound to create some freaky abominations while playing this game, which is kind of fun in a way. What isn’t fun is the fusion process itself. Some fusions are so ludicrously difficult to get, sometimes involving you jump through some rather large hoops. Some fusions require you beat the 100 man tournament, or complete all 16 quizzes at the quiz house. That’s not even bringing into account all the fusions that require characters have a specific special move to use. It’s so hard finding that right special move, especially when you really need it.

The game has a wide variety of special moves available to the player, a lot of which can vary up the gameplay a lot. These moves also act as equipment, with certain moves providing buffs to the character who equips it. Unfortunately, storing these moves and saving them for later is a terrible ordeal. The game provides a bank that can only hold 30 special moves, making it near impossible to build a massive library. There’s no way to expand this bank, so you are stuck with a special move bank that can barely hold any special moves.

One of my favorite elements of this game is the character customization. While the options you can choose for your characters are limited, you can still customize a fair bit of how he/she will look. You can also obtain different sets of clothing in game and then tweak their color to your heart’s content. You can also change your character’s appearance even more through EX Fusion, allowing your character to take on a whole heap of wacky appearances.

While the game does feature a wealth of content, the story mode is insanely short. Most of your gameplay experience will mostly involve the post-game content you’ll partake in after the main quest is done. In a way, this makes Dragon Ball Fusions a giant sandwich, with two thin bread slices of story content and the rest being the juicy slabs of meat that act as the game’s filler. I have no problem with this, I just wish the main quest was a bit longer.

Visual Stimuli

This game looks amazing! This game has some of the best graphics you’ll ever see in a 3DS game. It has stunning visuals, though lacks the 3D features often associated with a game on this console. The voice acting is pretty good, though I could never fully get into it. I never grew up with the Japanese voice acting team, so hearing them speak through my favorite Dragon Ball characters was a bit odd.

The soundtrack for this game was fantastic, truly a delight to my earbuds. Songs sounded like something you’d hear from the show and the game knew just when to use them at the right time. The game performs well, though the aforementioned online mode isn’t stable at all. It’s possible to get kicked out randomly before you can reach an opponent to fight.

Honestly, I think the presentation is the strongest part of this game. While I was iffy on the gameplay and plot, I felt that the way the game looked really won me over. Never before have I seen a game that was made for a handheld that filled me with such glee. Couple this with the amazing soundtrack and good voice-acting, and you definitely have a winning combo!

In Summation

I’m conflicted on this game. While it’s true that it has great graphics and a fun and unique combat system, it fell into the trap of being too repetitive and slow. Fights dragged out for far too long and the plot felt devoid of the creative energy that helped the power the series for so long. Despite this, I found the game to be a pleasure to play. Heck, I loved it so much that I’ve nearly 100% completed it, which is something I never do with RPGs!

It’s got a lot of heart to it and its immense amount of characters and quests managed to win me over. Despite its many flaws, I can definitely say that Dragon Ball Fusions is as sweet as syrup. I only really recommend this game to fans of strategy RPGs and Dragon Ball. I don’t think there’s enough here for fans who are unfamiliar with the franchise. Still, if you like the grindy nature of something like Dragon Quest mixed with the silliness of Dragon Ball, then this is something you need to play.

My Thoughts On Digimon Adventure Tri

So, recently the newest Digimon Tri film came out. I’ve made it no secret that I’m a huge fan of the series. I’ve been following it since the release of the original anime over 15 years ago. It’s a series about a group of kids (or teenagers depending on the series) getting whisked away to a world filled with monsters made out of data. It’s a popular series that spurred the imagination of many a 90s kids. And the original cast from the first season is now back in a story that acts as a sort of third season to the original group.

Now, I love these films, but I can admit they have a lot of problems. These include: Horrible at times pacing, the occasional bout of awkward animation, lack of explanations, the fact that they just ignore the 02 cast’s existence half the time, or just the fact that six films feels like overkill. Seriously, you can skip 90% of the second film, since most of it feels fairly superfluous.

I love that I get to see the original like Matt and Tai again, but at the same time I’m a bit annoyed that the dub is taking so long to get released. I get that it takes time to dub this stuff, but a year seems like overkill for a single film. Regardless, I still think the films are pretty good. They have good character development, some pretty good animation at times, and a new art-style that really meshes well with the darker undertones the series is trying to present.

Couple this with an amazing nostalgic soundtrack, some interesting new characters, and some pretty sweet action sequences, and you’ve got a series of animated films that are a sight to behold. While the positive do outweigh the negatives, I feel like these newer films are going to alienate those who have never seen the show. Especially when obscure or lesser known concepts and characters like Homeostasis and Gennai show up. I feel that this is a film series that will appeal mostly to the fans, which is okay with me. I love the films thus far and am looking forward to the English dub. Anyways, that’s just my personal thoughts on the film. I’d like to hear your guys’ personal thoughts, so feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Best Games Of 2016: Syrup Edition Part 1

Hey everyone, Syrup here! I know we’re into Feburary now and 2016 is long over, but I felt like I should go back and talk about my favorite games of the year! Now, this isn’t going to be a top-ten list or anything of that latter. This is due to the simple fact that I don’t think I’ve played 10 games this year. As much as I’d love to do top 5, I decided on talking about each one individually and then saying which one was my favorite at the end. Rules for the list are as follows:

  1. The game has to have come out in Canada/America in 2016. If it came out in another country a few years earlier, but just came to Canada in 2016, then it is still eligible.
  2. This list is exclusive to games I’ve played in 2016. Don’t expect too many AAA games on this list as I sadly never played a lot of those this year.

And without further adieu, let’s get started!

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Sure is 90s in here…

5089 An Action RPG:

This is probably going to be the most obscure game I talk about on this list! 5089 is an Indie game that released on Steam in 2016. Despite it’s ugly graphics, I was drawn into the concept of this game. You a robot landing on the planet Xax in order to destroy an evil overlord AI. All of your allies from 3089 are gone, and you must partner up with much more pessimistic robot allies in an attempt to destroy the evil purple robots and liberate the planet.

It isn’t the most original concept, but it works. The game itself has graphics that look like they are out of the 90s. Everything looks like it was made during the mid to late 90s, just when developers were figuring out what they could do with 3D graphics. Despite it’s dated presentation, it really is a fantastic game!

You explore a giant open world that is procedurally generated. It stretches on forever, and it reminds me a bit of how older games like Arena and Dagerfall handled their open worlds. What makes this game so great is it’s open nature, plus how it allows you to tackle the various enemies and obstacles you’ll face. Want to blast your enemy with a gun? You can do that! Wanna be a guy who runs around bashing enemies with a sword? You can do that! Wanna right around on a hoverboard? You can do that! The game allows for many cool things to do, such as crafting, piloting vehicles, acquiring armies of allies, or just exploring this neverending landscape.

The freedom in this game is intoxicating! I plan on making a skate-park for my hoverboard after beating the game, and then just skating it up. The game allows for two players, which is fun, but feels like more of a novelty. The game also has mod support, but since so few people play the game there sadly isn’t a lot of mods. The game itself is pretty cheap, I got it for about six and a half bucks. The game is normally on sale for 8 dollar and 8 cents Canadian, and I think it’s worth every penny! Just be prepared for slightly floaty controls, awful graphics, and a game that doesn’t provide in-depth tutorials.

Dragon Ball Fusions:

Amazing game! Fun, simple, entertaining, and very enjoyable! Sure, the game is easy but it’s fairly enjoyable. The game is a turn-based RPG set in an amalgamated version of the Dragon Ball world. All the timelines and continuities have fused together, creating a strange world where you and your best friend Pinich must explore and obtain new allies. The best part of the game is fusing party members together. Counting fusions and generic characters, there are about 600 characters in total. The game has 98 characters from the show, while most of the guys here are new characters.

It’s still got a healthy number of memorable characters, but lacks a lot of my favorites like Garlic Jr. and Bojack. It gets weirder when you realize that Garlic Jr’s Deadzone attack is still in the game. Despite certain characters being noticeably absent, I still loved it! It’s got a simple pick up and play vibe to it, despite the fact that most fights have a tendency to drag out for far too long. It sucks that too many fights rely on how fast your characters are, speedy characters rule this game. Still, it’s a fun and simply experience that I think everyone can enjoy.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir:

I never played the original Odin Sphere, but when I heard the original game was not only being remade, I jumped at the opportunity to play it! Weirdly though, this game was released on Vita and with a physical release no less! I was honestly surprised to see physical releases for Vita, since 90% of their games are often released digitally. But yeah, the game itself was amazing!

The game revolves around this little girl reading five different stories. Each story focuses on a different protagonist, but they all take place in the same world and at the same time. You’ll usually get an entire character’s story when you play through, but to get the full experience of the game’s story you need to play through with all five characters’ story. And they all play differently! Each character has it’s only skill tree that allows you to tailor-make each character to your preference.

No character is like the other one. Cornelius is swift and fast on his little rabbit feet and attacks quickly, Oswald is a shadow knight and can take on a berserk mode, and Velvet fights using a series of traps. Each character in unique, and has their own individual story that connects with the other ones. Couple this with some amazing graphics, fantastic soundtrack, and enjoyable gameplay and you have one of the best videogame remakes ever made! It’s less like a remake, and more like a sequel. So much is different or enhanced, that it feels like an entirely new game!

Final Fantasy Explorers:

Out of all the games I played and enjoyed this year, I’d say this one is the least in terms of quality. Still a great and enjoyable game, but it definitely has problems. It’s a game set in a fantasy world, not unlike those of most Final Fantasy games. You are an Explorer, a warrior sent out into the field to gather items, slay monsters, fight bosses, and all that jazz. The game has an MMO-like quality to it, what with its focus on exploration and grinding.

Unfortunately, the RPG elements that make Final Fantasy great kind of water down this title. While this was a game I immensely enjoyed this year, it’s slow pace and lack of a satisfying ending or plot really bogged down my experience. Couple that with an excessive amount of grinding, a world that only opens up to you bit-by-bit, and strange difficulty spikes and you have a very flawed game.

However, I still stand by the opinions I made in my review. It’s fun, despite its repetitive nature. It has nice graphics and a fun system that allows you to change your class at will. The many classes add so much variety to the game and allow for a lot of unique party builds when playing online. The game has a good mix of different weapons to use, as well as a pet system allowing you to bring monsters with you.

In all honesty, this game had a fair bit of good content, despite its many flaws. It’s weird that this game seems so lacking when compared to its competitors. There isn’t a whole lot to do in town, and your character doesn’t even have a house! I guess he just lives on the street or something. I recommend this game if you’re looking for something a bit different than your average Monster Hunter clone.

Conclusion of Part 1:

This is only about half of the games I plan on talking about. I still haven’t talked about Dragon Quest VII, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, God Eater Resurrection, and Monster Hunter Generations yet! Expect the next part in a few days to a week. After I discuss the last few games, I’m going to choose which game I feel was the best this year. Until then, have a good one everybody!

My Thoughts On Dragon Ball Super’s Universal Tournament

Last year, I put up a couple of posts on my blog noting my grievances with the current state of Dragon Ball Super and how I felt it wasn’t improving in the slightest. After having watched the most recent episode, I regret saying those words. Dragon Ball Super has definitely improved, at least for now. We have a better theme song, a more unique art-style, better animation, and a setup for a multiverse tournament.

Honestly, it’s what I want in this kind of story-arc. Goku and his friends are going to enter this tournament and fight against opponents, both old and new, along with characters who are twists on old favorites. The episode setting up this new arc I felt to be rather well put-together. It was paced expertly, it didn’t feel too slow or too quick. It focused on developing Goku and really showed his flaws and how they affect those around him. I especially loved how they subtly compared the similarities in Goku’s childish demeanor with that of the Zenos.

Goku’s desire for battle is what has become his weakness. Time and again, it’s show that Goku’s own power is what draws a lot of enemies to him and the earth. This episode shows how much Goku has fallen, how his own childish nature and immaturity has changed aspects of him. Goku even flicks a bullet into the head of a human who shot at him, something Goku would normally do! In fact, this move was first used by Goku’s evil brother Raditz in the first episode of DBZ. I think this is some clever foreshadowing and that we’re going to see in future episodes how Goku’s negative traits are working against him.

I love the new art-style and intro was well. The art seems somewhat more stylized with somewhat thicker lines and I definitely like the style they are going for! I also found the intro to be extremely entertaining, with some music punctuated with that unique aforementioned art-style. That’s not even to mention the noticeable animation upgrade they’ve gone though!

I’ve gushed a lot about what I liked about episode 77 and the route the show is going, so what didn’t I like? Well, not a whole lot really. Aside from some parts of the episode that dragged, there wasn’t a lot for me to complain about at all. It also ended on a cliff-hanger, which helps build tension. However, this is only the first episode of a 20-30 episode arc. While it seems promising, I have a feeling it may not live up to expectations. After all, people got hyped for the Goku Black arc. I liked it, but I’ll admit that the second half dragged and that the ending felt rushed.

So, what is it about this arc that gives me hope? It’s the acknowledgement of Goku’s flaws, the somewhat darker tone, the better theme song, and the increased character development. I’ll watch a show regardless of quality if I find that the genre appeals to me. Super could’ve remained mediocre to somewhat good for most of it’s run, and I still would’ve still watched it. I feel that I am now officially invested in what the show has to offer.

That’s why I can say that this is easily the best episode in Super thus far. It got me interested in the proceedings and allowed me to put aside my cynicism for once so I could fully enjoy the project. That’s why I’m looking forward to this arc. Depending on how the arc goes, I may discontinue my Dragon Ball Super rants. It really depends on if Super can keep up the quality from this single episode into future ones. I guess only time will tell.