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Written by  :  Zovni (10638)
Written on  :  Dec 23, 2003
Rating  :  2.4 Stars2.4 Stars2.4 Stars2.4 Stars2.4 Stars

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Poor gameplay brings down what could have been the first good DB fighting game.

The Good

Dragon Ball's videogame history is a mostly sad story. The series seems custom made for videogame adaptation, however the people that got the licenses for their development were mostly bigtime entertainment powerhouses that had little or no knowledge of how to properly do a good game out of it. Thus you had forgettable rpgs, arcade games, etc. etc. all bearing the name of DB, yet none capable of claiming the same fame the series did on the small screen. As for the fighting games available, the story is even sadder. A competent coding house like Capcom could have made the Dragon Ball games THE fighting games to own, (just look at their VS series and think what that could have been with the DB universe on top) however toy giant Bandai snagged the license a looong time ago and used it to churn out mediocre games for the sole purpose of claiming more cash. Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout is one of those games, but being the first in the series to ditch 2D graphics for a polygonal look made it sort of an event, and thus there were hopes among some of us that maybe this time Bandai would deliver.

The best things about Final Bout are those that came with the use of the Dragon Ball license, meaning not just the characters and mythos, but also the great animation style (which you can see in the AWESOME cel-animated intro) and the striking fighting style that made the series such a hit. Characters don't just punch each other here, they fly around shooting gigantic energy balls, unleash millions of combos in a flurry of hits and then smash each other against rocks and engage in power duels where they try to counter each other's energy rays. And guess what? All of those features are here at your disposal! You can fight mano a mano as in a standard fighting game, but you'll quickly realize that the dash key allows you to fly and levitate effortlessly, and a manually charged (a la King of Fighters) power bar allows you to shoot small series of fireballs as well as the gigantic Kame-hame-has and all those weird energy attacks which trigger a cutscene-like animation were your character charges up and then releases the attack with full pyrotechnic detail. At this time you can try to counter the attack by watching out for a "Counter!" sign that pops up, and if you press the correct combination of buttons when the sign appears, you can block the attack, slam it away or attempt to beat it with one of your own attacks at which point the game puts you and your enemy in a cool button-mashing race as you frantically try to push the energy ball back to it's sender.

Other cool features include the "meteo combos" which allow you to chain different attacks together for a spectacular finish where you can smash a player into the ground and see him break some conveniently-placed rocks as in the animé. Thanks to this, and the dynamic camera that nicely tracks the action (and doesn't break the screen up as in the 2D versions, but instead just zooms in/out) the game just oozes a dynamic coolness that makes the battles much spectacular and enjoyable than on the earlier games.

As for extra features the game comes loaded with a set of cool gameplay modes. You have the option to play in a straight-forward battle mode that takes you through all the characters and finally against a giant albino monkey in the end (no I'm not kidding, he's actually a saiyajin who... er... anyway, let's just move on...), then you have the standard vs mode, a cool Grand Master Tournament mode which is just that, a tournament mode, but which enables serious multiplayer matches of up to 8 players, as well as the now classic build up mode which allows you to continually improve a given character and save him for you to fight at a friend's house, or even continue building up on a character from an earlier game, provided he's on the new rooster that includes mostly GT faces, but also the most popular Z versions of each character as unlockable secret bonuses and even the first videogame version of Goku Saiya 4!.

The Bad

Lousy game, pure and simple. The new engine while allowing for much more spectacular fights and graphics drags the game down by not providing the smooth and responsive control you would expect from a game of this kind. You will press a button and half a second later your character will perform a stiff, jerky move that barely has the range to do anything. Thus a deductive player will quickly find out that for a fighting game this is a good Monkey Island sequel, with the only barely entertaining gameplay found on the mega-hyper power attacks that I mentioned above, which look cool and all, but are incredibly boring when used continually and have easy to exploit flaws. The action thus becomes an unbalanced mess where every fight turns into a simple exercise where you just try out the same old trick until you defeat your enemy and actually try to fight a little only when you get bored only to run back to the power attacks when the horribly slow controls and sluggish gameplay defeats your patience.

The graphics are a mixed bag, for starters you have some great character art and amazing special effects involving particle and lightning tricks, but the character models are poorly animated, with horribly visible joints and simple textures that make them look simply like smoother versions of the Tekken 1 character models. And speaking of Tekken, the backgrounds use the same "infinite arena" concept and are just as boring... The sounds and voices are the same as in the animated series tough... Guess I should mention that in case anyone tries to figure out why they are so high-pitched and annoying.

The Bottom Line

Lots of great features, gameplay modes and characters to cover up another fatally flawed Dragon Ball fighting game. Too bad Capcom didn't get the license instead of the bozos at Bandai, that way you could have a nice Dragon Ball product which also happened to be a great game, with balanced action, good controls and all that stuff that Bandai thinks can be replaced with a great opening.