Interview: Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero Producer Jun Furutani on the game’s balance and design

Furutani also explained why they went with Sparking! Zero as the title instead of Budokai Tenkaichi.

Aside from getting some hands-on time with the game, we also got to interview Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero producer Jun Furutani in a recent media roundtable, and he shared some of the challenges in balancing the game and making it both accessible to newcomers while being satisfying for long-time fans.

For those who missed its reveal, Sparking! Zero is the first new game in the Budokai Tenkaichi series, and it promises to deliver similar thrills as the previous series entries while bringing even more characters and scenarios from the iconic Dragon Ball franchise.

It’s clear that this game aims to deliver a satisfying experience for those who grew up playing Budokai Tenkaichi, though it also promises to be a must-play for any and every Dragon Ball fan — even those who haven’t played a Budokai Tenkaichi game.

With this in mind, we asked Furutani how the development team is making the game accessible to newer fans while being satisfying for long-time players.

He remarked that it was important for them to consider feedback from previous fans. Because of this, for those who have played the previous games, actions like how the characters respond in battle are similar to previous titles. On the flip side, they’re also trying to capture a “true” Dragon Ball fighting experience in terms of each character’s moveset and abilities. With this, even casual fans of the franchise may be enticed to give the game a try.

Furutani also mentioned that making the characters feel as close to their anime/manga counterparts is of key importance for them. This begs the question: What is the process for balancing like?

When asked, Furutani responded:

“To be frank, it is one of our big challenges. We want to make sure that you stay close to the anime series, like who’s strong and fast or who’s not that strong and a bit slow. The intention is to base it on the original anime series as we can see which one is stronger or not as strong.”

In that sense, players shouldn’t expect the game’s balance to work like it would in a more competitive fighting game like Dragon Ball FighterZ. Instead, there will be stronger characters in the roster to reflect their power in the original story. Of course, that likely won’t mean that weaker characters will be useless in fights as we expect them to still be capable in the right hands.

Finally, we asked in our interview with Furutani why they went with Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero! for its title instead of bringing back the Budokai Tenkaichi name.

Furutani said that the reason why Budokai Tenkaichi was used for the previous Western releases was for marketing purposes. It’s likely that the title was chosen as it was more familiar to Dragon Ball fans.

As for the latest game though, Furutani explained that they wanted to make sure to build a community for the game worldwide, especially now that Japanese games get simultaneous worldwide launches. As such, they went with Sparking Zero worldwide to give all players the same title to refer to.

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