Riding the Backlog - Dragon Ball FighterZ (Part 5)
By Chris Pranger
Session 5: Adult Gohan All the Way
This is an unprecedented event, as session 5 happened the same day as session 4. That’s right, I was so excited to play and exercise that I did it twice within a 12-hour span of time. That’s gotta say something about my drive!
Story mode in Dragon Ball FighterZ is becoming increasingly hit or miss. On one hand, I like the idea of unlocking little fun interactions between characters. As mentioned before with one of the first, seeing Goku, Krillin, and Yamcha stooge it up was very enjoyable, and since then I’ve had some nice moments such as one with Majin Buu and Goku about to take on Kid Buu where the two Buus are basically just screaming at each other while Goku stands around confused.
But beyond those little moments, the actual story points are pretty weak. The plot follows that the world is being affected by weird waves that cause all the fighters to lose all their powers unless the weird linked soul (me) controls them. Bulma is working on a solution to all of this, having built an aircraft that reduces the effects of the waves, at least letting the Z Fighters walk and talk normally.
We eventually learn that the Red Ribbon Army is behind everything, a revelation that’s just plain stupid. I mean, yes, they’ve been an on-again/off-again antagonist to Goku since Dragon Ball, though they’ve always been sort of doofy since they were originally lead by a short guy who just wanted to be tall, and then later reappeared in the Android Saga when Dr. Gero was revealed to be the brains behind the army all this time, a plot point that...eh, we accepted because sure. Here, learning that there’s ANOTHER real head of the Red Ribbon Army is lazy, and what’s worse, the game is treating the reveal of the true villain like it’s a secret.
I’ll give you a minor spoiler warning, but it doesn’t matter since the game’s advertising and hype machine already ruined it years ago. Android 21 was revealed as a new character created by Akira Toriyama himself, which for some reason gets fans excited? Really? He designs very likable characters from a visual standpoint but why do we keep letting him take control of the story aspects? He’s worse than George Lucas at this point. Anyway, we already knew that the red-headed researcher with glasses was Android 21, that she was the main antagonist, and that she can transform into a Majin version of herself which makes her the first Majin android we’ve seen. A cool mixture of two big plot arcs, but not a surprise reveal once she appears in the game.
Is it a Japanese thing? Do Japanese developers think they’re being clever with dramatic reveals and twists when we’ve already known about them for sometimes years at a time? I remember during Hyrule Warriors the developers thought they were going to really get the audience with the reveal that Sheik was Zelda in disguise the whole time, something that we’d known for like 15 years. Here in Dragon Ball FighterZ, resting a pivotal moment on Android 21’s appearance and heel turn just feels like a time waste.
After she presents herself and throws a little coming out party for her Majin/villain status, she quickly dispatches Android 16 for disobeying her I think? It’s not super clear what her motivations are or if this is the same Android 16 we’ve known since the Android Saga or what. Point is, she blasts Android 16 and then everyone acts like he’s super gone, no for real guys. I won’t be shocked when he returns, either in a rebuilt body or just from escaping.
At this point Android 21 flies away, and while Goku and the others try to follow her, she blasts them away, causing the spirit link (me) to temporarily go to a different host, in this case Cell. Which, hooray! A new character! And an unexpected fight! I’m going to get to finally go toe-to-toe with Android 21 after all this melodramatic buildup, and I get to do it as Cell! This should be fun!
I don’t exactly have a full handle on what makes Cell different from the other characters since I’ve only had one fight with him so far, but he controlled well. Well enough that I paid proper homage to the character and beat Android 21 with a perfect victory. I should feel good, right? Well of course not, because after beating her the following cutscene is one of those story beats that says, “Oh no, you were supposed to lose that fight, so let’s just artificially create some tension and say that the fight is really serious guys!” For some reason, Cell is shown all beaten up and struggling to stand while Android 21 is undamage and unphased. Cool. Super cool. Love it.
Let’s do a little work here to fix this broken and lazy bit of design, shall we? It’s clear that we’re supposed to feel like Android 21 is far superior to our skill, so why not just crank her AI up to maximum for this fight? Or boost her level to maximum or give her some artificial buffs or a magic aura that means she can’t be damaged or at least SOMETHING. As the moment stands now, I beat her without letting her land a single punch, which doesn’t create any sort of tension and only has the effect of making every moment past this one aggravating since my thought is, “OK, I can beat her without taking damage. Can I just destroy her and be done with it?”
For now, Cell retreats and we lose track of him, rejoining with Goku and the others. Bulma suggests we go rescue Vegeta, which, yeah, why did we waste time with Yamcha and Tien when we could have gone after Vegeta? Also, when is Android 18 going to be all healed up and ready to fight?
My strategy for the next series of fights is to basically just use Adult Gohan and win as brutally as possible, testing him out a bit more to learn his fighting style. As mentioned before, he feels fast and strong, and the more I use him the more he’s become my main. His special attack is a bit of a mystery to me though as I can either instantly pop a power outburst or have it follow the medium attack combo, but after the attack burst a little “Level 1” appears on Gohan’s side of the screen, letting me know I’ve done something. I tested this out and learned I could raise him all the way to Level 7, though I have no clue what it does. He doesn’t appear to get any faster or stronger, but it’s at least a good judge for how clearly I’ve blitzed through the enemy. Then again, I’m a super scrub, so I’m not well versed in fighting game tactics.
Eventually I make my way to the next boss fight, this time against Frieza. He’s backed by the Ginyu Force, which sadly means I’ll just be fighting Captain Ginyu. It feels like such a waste to show all five members of the Ginyu Force and then only make one playable. It feels very much like the other four will become DLC somewhere along the line, probably in Season 2 (I also expect Raditz, Zarbon, Dodoria, Android 19, Mr. Satan, and Jiren, just to make some wild predictions).
Finally, after all that we unlock Vegeta and are basically at square one again. Sure, we have most of the fighters, and sure, we’re looking pretty strong, but Cell, Frieza, and Android 21 are all still MIA, which doesn’t make a ton of sense to me as we’re past the halfway point of this arc and it doesn’t really feel like we’re making much progress in regards to actual story.
Next time I get to try Vegeta out, and I unlock Gotenks. That should be weird! I’ll see you then!