Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero Impressions | Budokai Tenkaichi is Finally Back

We got to try out Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero, and it is a promising game for long-time fans.

It has been over a decade since the last game in the series, and finally, Budokai Tenkaichi is back with Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero, the newest fighting game entry in the beloved franchise. While it has taken nearly 15 years for this new game, Sparking! Zero promises to deliver the same thrills as the original games, albeit with modern controls, graphics, and a load of new content including characters from Dragon Ball Super.

Ahead of the game’s launch this October, I recently got to have a quick hands-on with the game in a preview hosted by Bandai Namco. There, I got to try out the VS Battle mode and see the other major game modes that Sparking! Zero has to offer.

Take note that I did not really play the original Budokai Tenkaichi games, though I do like Dragon Ball. So, my impressions are from the perspective of a Dragon Ball fan instead of a hardcore player of the original games.

The VS Battle Experience

Of course, hardcore isn’t exactly Budokai Tenkaichi’s MO. After all, the previous series entries aren’t exactly competitive fighting games like Dragon Ball FighterZ. Instead, they’re 3D arena fighting games where the focus is epic battles. In the previous games, fans of the franchise could not only experience story scenarios but also pit their favorite characters against each other.

This is exactly what I got to feel in the VS Battle mode which is the Sparking! Zero standard mode where players can select from a wide variety of Dragon Ball characters. The full roster wasn’t revealed yet when we played the game, though it promises to feature more obscure characters.

Gameplay here is as you’d expect. The focus is to build up your Ki gauge so you can use destructive attacks. Movement is also important to note as it’s important to keep moving so you can actually get to your opponent given how big the arenas are, not to mention that they have destructible environments to take note of.

I was only able to play the game for around 20 minutes, so I wasn’t able to explore all the abilities and movesets of the available characters. What I can say is that the combat feels good, and it’s fairly easy to get into which should be great for those who haven’t played the previous Budokai Tenkaichi games.

What stood out for me the most were the skills of the characters I played such as Majin Buu’s beam attacks or Goku’s ever-reliable Kamehameha and Instant Teleportation. Thanks to how cool these look and how fun they are to activate, it seems to me that the main appeal of the game is to fulfill that wish to play as your favorite Dragon Ball character.

Interestingly, the fact that the focus of the game is to make the characters accurate in terms of power to their anime/manga counterparts means there will likely be stronger characters. This was also highlighted in our recent interview with the game’s producer [NAME HERE] as he mentioned how game balance is one of their biggest challenges.

This makes sense though as the series has always been about giving you that anime-style battle experience instead of being an esports title that aims to balance out every character for competitive play.

That’s not to say this is an exclusively single-player experience as it has online multiplayer and even a split-screen battle feature. I haven’t tried these modes, but the split-screen battle is something that I’m definitely interested in as someone who has fond memories of playing local multiplayer titles (admittedly, I mostly played Naruto Ultimate Ninja instead of Dragon Ball back then).

What I’m also excited about are the other game modes that were presented during our hands-on.

Episode Battles Will Let Players Relive Key Moments in the Franchise

As with previous series entries, Sparking! Zero will have a single-player story mode called Episode Battles. Here, players will be able to relive iconic battles from Dragon Ball Z all the way up to Dragon Ball Super’s Tournament of Power.

This is no doubt a highlight for fans of the anime, though battles aren’t the only thing it will offer as there will also be cutscenes that can be experienced in first-person. Plus, these cutscenes will have some decisions for players to make that can lead to different scenarios.

Personally, I’m most excited to play the Tournament of Power battles in this mode. After all, that arc’s characters and fights are incredibly fun and memorable.

Custom Battles Will Allow for Unique Scenarios

Finally, the game will have Custom Battles. If VS Battles aren’t enough for your Dragon Ball fantasies, this mode should be the one for you as they can let you create scenarios involving the various characters in the franchise.

Now, if you’re not big on creating scenarios, there are Bonus Battles that the developers made which feature different victory conditions and unique cutscenes.

Best of all, these Bonus Battles can be used as your starting point as you can edit them in this mode. Thanks to this, you can think of the Custom Battles as your personal toybox, but instead of using Dragon Ball figures and your imagination to cook up scenarios, you can experience them in-game.

Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero Initial Verdict – A Promising Title for Long-Time Fans

I only played the game for a bit but I can already say that Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero has a lot of potential. This is thanks to how good the game feels and the fact that the developers are putting in a lot of effort to make the characters feel great to play while being accurate to their anime counterparts.

What’s more, the Episode Battles and Custom Battles modes are each promising as they’ll let players experience iconic battles and create new scenarios, respectively. Plus, the fact that split-screen multiplayer is there is a nice touch.

From the looks of it, Sparking! Zero is poised to deliver a fun experience for any and every Dragon Ball fan. Fingers crossed that this is indeed the case when the game gets released.

Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero will be released on October 11, 2024, on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam.