I’ve been a fan of Dragon Ball and it’s games almost as long as I can remember. Some of the best moments in middle school was swapping VHS tapes and just wondering who the Trunks the Mysterious Youth was. I know I wasn’t the only kid who came up with their own take on Dragon Ball Z and having to update it with each new bit of information. So naturally I was drawn to the idea of a Dragon Ball game where you get to make the main character. Down side is everyone else did as well including…
Galactic Emperor John-kun or any number of Goku lookin’ saiyans named Jeff. It really shows the group mentality behind a fandom when you hand them a blank slate character creator and online lobbies to show them off. It can be annoying, well more like immersion breaking at the least. Honestly where else could Dragon Ball games go? We had a massive amount of just fighting games, some manga adaptations like UB 22, some anime adaptation games like most of them, some “What If” games like Raging Blast, China got that MMO, GBA and PS4 got RPGs with extended stories, and there are still some I haven’t played.
See I always love a good create-a-character no matter the game I’ll play it. See I tend to make my characters look as close to me as I can, yes tubby and bearded with glasses, in each game. I make the stats close to mine while still staying playable. So in DBZ it’s high physical strength, low stamina, and Ki based on my caffeine consumption.
I’ll be honest as far as a fighting game goes, it’s subpar. Nothing in it is to bad mind you. Decent controls, decent combat if on the easy side of things, and a decent story. All around it’s easily worth the purchase if you are a Dragon Ball fan. Just not really for a fighting game fan. The fighting takes a back seat to the customization in this game. So many moves, equipment, abilities, and partners to unlock it kept me running through the main story modes just to see what else is there to unlock.
Story mode was pretty alright. Time traveling demons are increasing bad guy’s power levels to collect the fighting energy being released to bypass this big lock in history that was the moment the demon realm and earth realm where locked apart.
It doesn’t go so smoothly. Plus such a story let’s you have the best of all the different types of Dragon Ball games. You can retell exact scenes by putting the what if situation back in order. You can go completely off the wall with what if they made Nappa join the Ginyu Force to replace Captain Ginyu. Or even just some missions that pad out the times training or the peaceful times that get skipped. During all this you will be treated to several side stories.
Some more notable ones are joining in on a nice rousing round of Killing Goku™ one of my favorite games. Also the equipment is dynamic, it shows up on your person, so you can actually watch your character grow from grunt to main character.
If you are like me you will take fashion over stats. The game has you covered, you can make like um… S Souls or something like that. It’s an item made from fusing equipment that will override your equipment stats. That or you finally just find the right pants.
I won’t bore you with the details of Haro, the low level Saiyan who also was sent to a different planet and also became good. Mainly because well, this game has you be wished from a parallel dimension by Trunks. No lie, you get Dragon Ball abducted into helping out the Time Patrol. Which takes you to both sides of most every fight. You even get pulled into a civil war in the Frieza Forces for a good chunk of it. You get really into depths of most of the tertiary cast. You start to understand Raditz and his past, or Tien and dealing with how much he hates himself for being an evil prick in the past.
But being one of the saiyans that invaded gives him a special connection with you as a reformed villian. One he never makes with Vegeta because ya know, all the death he still blames Vegeta for. It sorta shines a light on his own transgressions. Being a good friend I helped him work out his issues.
Now aside from all the canon character fun you can have the sheer number of move and ability combinations not to mention different races you have available to you will keep you making new fighters often. Ones you can actually team up with on missions and some story beats.
It provides the ultimate experience in a role playing style immersion akin to a good D&D group just by yourself. The game takes great efforts to either explain how it fits into the canon, or how it fixed the canon, or sometimes they just say like “Hmmmm, that’s odd oh well it’s whatever go punch things”. It stands out like the early GameCube Naruto games in just being fun. The combat is less technical more combo setting and teleporting out of a combo set before the big super blast goes off. Unlike those Naruto games the story here keeps you in past the fighting and gives you something just a bit more satisfying. Although your story will be ultimately the same as every other player’s regardless of the choices made. It still just feels great when your original character goes from level 1 and struggling against a saibaman to a world saving, or wrecking, ultra badass who can pull off the super duperest of moves.
It just goes to show that an immersive game can overcome most any shortcomings. Most people will say being fun is the most important part of a game. I feel it’s immersion that sells me. Let me get lost in some other world for a few hours. Have me turn off the game and feel different from the choices I had to make. Leave me pondering how I would have handled that situation if completely free from the limits set by the narrative. Like a good book keep me wanting to revisit that world. Just unlike a book, make me earn my delusions. Make my fantasies feel more than just impossible thought exercises. Do that well enough and I’ll keep buying basically the same plot 20 more times.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 1 or 2 won’t go down as one of the best games of all time. Not even the best Dragon Ball games. But for my money they will go down as one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had with a game series. True to it’s name sake Dragon Ball Xenoverse is a silly irreverent adventure with cheesy plots that never fails to exhilarate the little wide eyes kid in me watching the most suspenseful exchange of his life.
I guess what I’m getting at is don’t be afraid to dive in on a silly guilty pleasure game if you can afford it. I bought Xenoverse 1 on a whim on an anniversary with an ex of mine if I’m being 100% honest here. Even though everytime I pick up these games I think about my ex and all that junk that goes with it. Yet I still absolutely love these games, because no matter what happens in my life, even if it’s Dragon Ball adjacent it won’t taint that special little place in my heart.