It feels like you can slap a well-known name on a product these days and expect people to love it. That’s what Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle is. It’s a cash grab. It’s also probably meant to build hype for the new Dragon Ball Super show that came out this summer. But this game has as little to do with Dragon Ball Z as X-Men Origins: Wolverine has to do with the new Deadpool movie. They share characters, but one of them is a cynical exercise in capitalism.
Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle is a bit like Dragon Ball Z themed Monopoly. Sure, you can have Goku, Vegeta, Trunks, and Krillin on your team, but you could have made this a Star Wars game, replaced them with Luke, Han, Chewie, and Leia, and it would be the exact same game. The game actually plays like a board game in parts. Each level has a step by step layout, and depending on which step you land on, different things happen. You can get items, power ups, or take damage, and at the end, there’s a boss battle.
Battles are the crux of this game, but they’re woefully simple, repetitive, and unexciting. You have a team of Dragon Ball Z characters and you get to take turns having them fight your enemy. But it isn’t an action game. It’s a bizarre kind of strategy/puzzle game. You have your character on one end and the enemy on the other, and in between are lines of colored orbs. You want to pick a line of orbs that has all of one color. The more orbs you get in a row, the stronger your attack.
There’s a bit more nuance to it. Each character has a color type, and if you choose orbs of that color type, their attacks are twice as strong, with some color types being stronger against enemies of other color types. And if you organize your team so that characters who have an in-show connection to each other are next to one another, they’ll boost each other’s power.
You start with a team that includes one strong character who you’ll recognize and love, if you’re a Dragon Ball Z fan, and four weak characters who may be obscure and won’t be valuable to your team. You can get more characters by collecting dragon stones or friend points. Friend points are plentiful, and they seem to get you weak characters.. Dragon stones can get you strong characters, but the problem is it’s a lottery. You spend five dragon stones and maybe you’ll get someone worthwhile, but maybe you won’t. You collect one dragon stone for every level you beat. Of course, you can always spend money to get more dragon stones. And that seems to be the point of the game, because it’s next to impossible to create a respectable team without dishing out cash.
All these elements could possibly make for an interesting system, but they don’t. Part of the problem is that Dragon Ball Z is the wrong franchise for a puzzle game. The entire show it’s based on is about fighting. There have been plenty of great DBZ games, but they are all fighting games. And the “puzzles” themselves are not puzzles. They’re mind-numbingly simple. If you’ve done one, you’ve done them all. And there are a lot to do. I did not get to the end of the game, but since it has a pay-to-win element to it, I’m guessing the levels are next-to-endless repetitions of the same schlock.
I love Dragon Ball Z. I would love to be able to create a team of Z fighters and pit them against their enemies. But they need to fight in real Dragon Ball Z style, as is the case in the many, many previous Dragon Ball Z video games. Instead, the Z fighters participate in some bizarre puzzle game that’s barely a game mechanic. I’m sad to see Dragon Ball Z go this way, but this Dokkan iteration is a cash grab and nothing more.
Is it Hardcore?
No, it's wimpy.
Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle is another freemium game among thousands. It could have aspired to something more, coming from a long line of solid Dragon Ball Z games, but instead it aspires to make a quick buck.