Cha-la, head cha-la!

Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle is the latest online-RPG offering by Bandai Namco. The story takes players in a DBZ universe similar to Dragon Ball Xenoverse where the timeline is distorted by an unknown entity and the everything is thrown to chaos! The player will need to work with Trunks as they investigate various anomalies and locations to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Quests take place is various locations in the world. Each location has several stages. The stage layout is akin to a board game. The player needs to select one of the three randomly generated numbers and his/her marker will move on the available spaces based on the number selected. There are scattered items, traps, stat boosts, and encounters along the way. Stopping on any of these objects will instantly cause the designated effect. There are also fixed encounters where you'll be forced to engage regardless of the number of moves you selected. Near the end of every stage, there's a boss waiting. Defeat the boss and move to the last slot of the stage to complete it. It's ideally recommended to get the most out of every stage visit since the number of moves you can pull is still randomized.

After clearing a stage, you can opt to clear it again in the same difficulty or a harder one. In the advanced levels, the STA cost will increase, the enemies become stronger but you'll be rewarded with more EXP, Zeni, and better item drops.

While exploring the stages, you may encounter Dragon Balls. These mystical titular items will allow you to summon Shenron, the Dragon that will grant any wish. You can check the Dragon Balls you have in your possession by selecting the Shenron option in the main menu. Fortunately, you can also tap on the empty slot to know where you can find the missing dragon ball. Once you've used a wish, the Dragon Balls will be scattered and their whereabouts will change as well.

What's interesting about DBZ Dokkan Battle is its battle system. While the battle is turn-based, you have to deal with a Bubble-Bobble-Shooter-like system. You'll see a group of assorted colored Ki spheres. Your attack strength will double if you absorb Ki Spheres that are the same type (color) of your character. Collecting same-colored spheres will also heal a bit of your HP gauge. The HP gauge is a shared attribute among all your characters. It will be game over if the HP gauge is depleted.

Rainbow-colored ki spheres will allow you to connect to any type of sphere. Collected ki spheres will disappear and the pile of ki spheres will “fall down” the pile. In any event that there's no matching color for your active character, you can select a different-colored sphere, as long they can connect multiple times. Take note that you can also change the battle order. Use this to properly match the active character to the Ki sphere you want to select.

Collected Ki Spheres will also count towards your Ki Meter. The collected Ki in the meter lasts only for one turn. You have to collect the amount again on the following turn. Basically, the more spheres you collect that matches your character's color, the faster your Ki Meter is filled. A full ki meter will allow your character to perform a powerful Super Attack.

The type/color determines how much damage you deal or defend against. Each type has its own rock-paper-scissor diagram. For examine, STR (red) is strong again PHY (orange) but weak against AGL (blue). If you're using a red character, you'll deal extra damage against a PHY character. However, if your opponent is a AGL character, your attack will be guarded and you'll deal lesser damage. Attacks to other types will just deal normal damage. Characters evolved via Z-Awakening will have a “+” or “++” sign to their type. This allows them to deal even more damage against the weak to their type and even more endurance against the type they're strong against.

The player can form a team with up to six characters from the Dragonball universe. Each card has its own Cost that will count towards the player's Cost Limit. The overall Team Cost should not exceed your Cost Limit. Rarer and more powerful characters have higher Costs. This setup limits the amount of powerful characters players can include in their team. You can increase your Cost Limit by ranking up as well. If ever you have unassigned spaces in your team due to this limitation, basic Saibamen characters will be automatically assigned to fill them.

Characters earn EXP from victorious battles which helps them level up and increase their stats. The game features a Training option that will allow you to select “Training Partners”. Training partners are basically “sacrificed” to the character you're training since they disappear after the session. Training can also be boosted with the use of training items and training locations. Selecting a Training Partner that's the same exact copy of the trainee (both in nickname and character name) will increase the trainee's Super Attack level. If the selected training partners are of the same type (color), the trainee will receive extra EXP as well. Training costs Zeni (game currency) so expect to spend a lot of cash for training higher-level characters.

The game will also allow you to Awaken your characters. By spending Awakening items, medals and zeni, you can increase the stats of the selected character and unlock their potential. This doesn't increase the character's level and it can be done regardless of the character's level. In the other hand Z-Awakening is the more potent version of this feature. This transformation increases the rarity of the character and significantly increases his/her stats. However, this can only be done when the character's level is maxed out. The Super Attack level will be carried over and the team cost will increase as well.

Characters have various skills that play a great part in battles. Some characters possess Leader Skills, which are unique abilities that will trigger when the character is placed in the Leader slot in the party. Passive Skills are activated in the background automatically when certain circumstances are met. Finally, Link Skills are activated when two or more characters bearing the same skill are sitting side by side in the attack order during a battle.

The game follows a standard mobile game infrastructure with some considerable tweaks and features that makes it unique. For one, the game has the “gauge” system in the form of STA or Stamina. Stamina is used whenever you partake a mission, quest, or event. Basically, this gauge limits how many times you can play. STA is restored automatically at a rate of 1 point every 5 minutes. The maximum STA is increased whenever the player Ranks up. Ranking up also completely restores the STA gauge.

The game also gives players daily rewards, access to regularly updated events, and one-time missions. The rewards in these events are really worth it but may require an adequately leveled and assembled party to tackle some of the battle challenges.

Before tackling a quest, players can select a guest character of another player to act as support. In turn, they'll earn FP (Friend Point) which they can use to summon normal characters later on. A single summon costs 200 FP while a Multi-summon allows you to summon 10 characters at a time at the cost of 2000 FP. Using a character from your Friend List will give you 100FP while using a stranger's character will give you 50FP. You can only earn FP from your friend's character once per day.

Dragon Stones is the game's premium currency. You can spend it to summon rare and more powerful characters. For example, a multi-summon (50 dragon stones) guarantees one SR character. Unless you're going to spend a lot of cash for dragon stones, it will take a while for you to collect 50 of them through normal daily log-in rewards or quest rewards.

DBZ Dokkan Battle is a treat to fans of the series. The battle animations and effects are action-packed, true to what DBZ is known for. The story transitions are in comic-strip format. The interface is simple and responsive, and the game is not drowning of extra unnecessary features. The audio is also impressive and immersive.

As an online game, you need to have a stable internet connection to play it. The game seems to get corrupted or stopped when paused / minimized for quite a while, requiring a restart. The quests are relatively easy and the difficulty curve isn't that high even for new players. Even if the game has micro-transactions, you won't have to deal with annoying ads or will be forced to spend in order to progress through the main quests. The variety of content that's regularly updated keeps the game fresh and engaging.

DBZ Dokken Battle is entertaining, especially if you grew up loving the series. The game follows a standard mobile game infrastructure but the complete absence of ads or money cockblocks will give a comfortable atmosphere for casual players. The battle system is an imaginative twist though some players may find it cumbersome or annoying. The game may not work on all devices, as openly stated in the disclaimer option of the game's page in Google Play. As I've mentioned in my other reviews before, I have a dedicated tablet for gaming (Nexus 2) and the game is running great on my device so far. As a closing note, the game looks solid so far though the promise of long-term enjoyment is a question that can't be answered especially for mobile games like this.
4.3 / 5.0
review by vhayste | Sep 16th 2015

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