I haven’t been taken with a game quite the way I am with Dragonball Fighterz in a very long time. That doesn’t mean I haven’t liked or even loved quite a few games over the recent years, but this new obsession marks something deeper. I’m not playing the game everyday, only playing from time to time. I’m not even that great at it and am currently in a losing slump. I can’t help but think about it constantly; I have been consistently coming back to it something I haven’t done since I picked up Dota over 7 years ago. I pick it back up in between all the other games I’ve been playing, hopping back in the lab to brush up on my technique. I’m even watching pro fighting tournaments again after I had become a fair weather Evo fan. Arc Systems has simply created something that is unabashedly up my alley.
It reminds me of the way I used to obsess over things when I was a kid. If something caught my attention, I was much more drawn into all the minutia about it. I would be dig deep into the details of the world, remembering places, times, or scenes where important events took place. I would latch onto characters not just because of personality, but their style and demeanor as well. I would run back scenes or events through my head remembering how cool or sad I thought something was. Dragon Ball Z was one of those obsessions. It’s the first show I remember having to watch as soon as it came on. I would draw the characters in a sketchbook. I wanted to be part of the world so badly that I would draw myself as one of the characters. I knew every storyline and every character and was very protective of my feelings over it.
Obviously my nostalgia for DBZ plays a key part in my obsession with Fighterz. The art perfectly meshes Arc Systems’ 2.5D animation with the original series stylings. Character’s voices (and screams and trash talk) are all perfectly matched. Everything about Fighterz is lovingly recreated from original DBZ right down to the stunning dramatic finishes. I even feel a pang of guilt every time I fire up my team (Kid Buu, Goku Black, Gotenks) since canonically these characters would never fight together. DLC characters even have me excited to see what new team members will be pulled in from the shows’ deep bench of villains and heroes (hell I’m even excited about the new Bardock and Broly!)
I’m obviously not alone; the game leads this year’s EVO sign ups and with specific show lingo and canon from the tv show are an important part of the professional scene now. There’s something more to this game though something that years of Budoki and Zenoverse games never captured; an actual, honest to goodness, professional grade fighting game.
I have never felt so empowered playing a fight game like this since I first played Street Fighter IV (almost 10 years ago?!) which was the first fighting game that inspired me to buy a fighting stick. I watched tutorials online determined to get better at the game. I wanted to be the best dammit! (or at least very very good). Fighterz has filled that void that I almost forgot I had. Even when I lose a match, I don’t feel especially discouraged. The game’s mechanics even make onboarding a breeze; in hindsight I have no idea why I had misgivings about the auto combo system, which allows players to pull off long strings of hits by only pressing one button. That specific piece is an incredibly ingenious idea allowing players to perform cool moves without handing them a match. Everything command wise is a breeze to pull off (especially pulling off familial Kamehameha waves).
I honestly just want to continue playing and obsessing over this game. The fighting game community’s embrace of it makes my interest seem rewarded. I want to keep fighting, training and getting better, and isn’t that what Dragonball Z is all about?