What do you get if you cross Manga animation with a blistering martial arts fighting game? Super Dragon Ball Z. This classic arcade fighting game is based on the retro MUGEN graphics engine and will appeal to anyone who likes Street Fighter or Double Dragon.
In the start menu, you’re presented with several different modes. Arcade means you go 1 on 1 against the computer; in VS mode you take on a friend; Team VS lets you play various team-up modes against a friend; Team Arcade means various team-up modes against the computer and Team Co-op allows you to beat the crap out of the computer tag-team style. Finally, Training allows you to work on your moves and Watch mode allows you to observe computer controlled characters beat the hell out of each other in various modes. There’s also an options menu where you can configure such things as the level of difficulty, time limit, sound features and controls.
The game lets you take on the role of of almost 30 characters. Highlights include Chibi Trunks, Future Trunks, Normal Trunks and Mr Boo. As one of these fighters, you take on a series of martial arts beasts in an effort to win battle points and collect dragon balls. If you choose to take on a friend in the “VS” mode, make sure you’ve either got two joysticks or at least one whilst the other plays on the keyboard. For beginners, I’d advise going straight into training mode where you can practice some special moves which range from a simple karate-chop to a “fist of death” hammer blow which involves pressing at least seven different keys at once. Remember those old Amiga and Atari games where a special move literally involved snapping the joystick and you’ll get the picture. You can also customise your own player although it’s mainly limited to changing the name and colours here and there.
The game itself works on the basis of battle points – the more you beat-up, the more you win. Points give you access to a “skill tree” which enables you to pimp-up your character and give him/her some new moves. Along the way, you also collect dragon balls and once you have collected 7, you can call forth the “dragon of Shenron” which grants you a wish. According to the developers, this can range from adding a new move to your character to creating an entirely new one. The gameplay is just like a classic arcade game thanks to the ever-popular MUGEN graphics engine. The sound is also excellent with some classic satisfying retro kicks and punch effects. On the downside, it can seem a bit limited and boring compared to fighting classics like Street Fighter or Tekken but for a game that’s only around 30 MB , it certainly packs a punch.
Be warned also that although the developers claim this game works on all Windows platforms, some forums report that users with anything above Windows 98 have experienced problems starting the game. More advice is available from the developers’ website. In summary, a must have for any retro fighting fan.