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Super Dragon Ball Z is a cel-shaded 3D fighting video game, based on the manga Dragon Ball written by Akira Toriyama. It was originally released in Japanese (December 22, 2005) and European (2006) arcades running on System 246 hardware, and later for the PlayStation 2 (Japan: June 29, 2006; US, July 18, 2006; AU, July 28, 2006). The game was developed by Crafts & Meister, headed by Noritaka Funamizu (a former Capcom fighting game producer who worked on the Street Fighter series and Darkstalkers). The game features 18 playable characters, destructible environments, and a game engine geared towards fans of more traditional fighting games.
The game sold 95,082 units in the first week of its release in Japan (placing its rank at #2 in the software sales in Japan for that week, second only to Nintendo's New Super Mario Bros.). The game received a rating of 4.5/5 from GamePro, as well as Editor's Choice, a 7.3/10 from GameSpot, and another 7.4/10 from IGN, along with Runner Up for "Best Fighting Game on the PS2 at E3".
The official name of the game continues to come under debate, despite it being written and literally spoken aloud within the game. When the game was initially announced, all that had been released was a title, and primarily on English-language websites. A logo for the game was later released, which spelled out the title as 超ドラゴンボールZ chō doragonbōru zetto. However, the furigana below the 超 chō reads out スーパー sūpā (or the English word super). Since furigana is intended to provide a pronunciation of the kanji, whether or not it is an accurate "translation" of that word, this would be the correct pronunciation.
Note that this parallels the phrase 超サイヤ人 sūpā saiyajin, in which the kanji 超 chō is written with furigana that directs the reader to pronounce the word as スーパー sūpā.
Immediately Playable Characters (Arcade & Home Versions)
- Goku <Can turn Super Saiyan>
- Vegeta <Can turn Super Saiyan>
- Future Trunks <Can turn Super Saiyan>
- Teen Gohan <Can turn Super Saiyan 2>
- Android 18
- Android 16
- Android 17
- Fat Buu
Unlockable Characters (Home Version Only)
Shifting away from the gameplay of recent series such as the Dragon Ball Z / Budokai and Sparking! games, Super Dragon Ball Z brings its style back to a more traditional formula made famous with the Capcom, SNK, etc. games of the 1990s.
"Fireball motions" and their ilk provide the majority of special move inputs, along with "dial-a-combos" (as seen in Mortal Kombat 3 and the Tekken series) for closer, hand-to-hand combat. Some characters (Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Trunks, etc.) have brief power-ups into their Super Saiyan forms. Characters have "super moves", throws, juggles, dashes, etc. that can trace their roots back to these earlier 1990s games.
Game Modes (Home Version)
A basic arcade mode, in which the player can use either a normal, or custom character to fight their way through 7 opponents (receiving a Dragonball for each victory) and gain experience on the way.The 6th opponent will be Freiza and The 7th opponent will always be Cell.
A "survival" mode in which the player fights various opponents for as long as their health remains above zero. Battles all take place in the world tournament ring (with the same background music each time), and last a single round. If the player wins the round, they play a "roulette"-style game in which their selection endows them with items such as additional experience, extra health, Dragon Balls, etc. If using a custom character, the player will gain experience.
A mode where the player can perfect their skills against a computer opponent of their customization (non-moving, responsive, etc.). Battles take place within Vegeta's training room.
A standard two-player versus mode. Players may use either the default characters or their own custom versions from either memory card slot.
Upon collecting seven Dragon Balls with a custom character, the player may enter this mode to summon Shenron. The player may then wish for various items, such as additional attacks, unlockable characters, etc. After making a wish, the Dragon Balls disappear and must be recollected in another game mode.
The player may set up "custom" characters to battle with. These characters will gain experience from fighting, which allows them to learn new special attacks, raise statistics, etc. There are 30 available slots for custom characters. Custom characters may be used in Original, Z Survivor, Training, Summon Shenron, and Versus modes.
A standard series of options menus that allows the player to control key assignments, volume levels, saving, loading, etc.
The opening theme for the Japanese version is "Cha-La Head-Cha-La (2005 ver.)" as performed by Hironobu Kageyama. This is a remix of the first Dragon Ball Z TV opening theme, released as a CD single in 2005 with variations of it and the second opening theme, "We Gotta Power", also included on the seven-track CD (Sony Music / Team Entertainment, KDSD-74). The song is replaced with "Rock the dragon" in the American version.
The score of the game features at least two remixes of background music composed for the Dragon Ball Z TV series by Shunsuke Kikuchi. Other pieces are newly composed for this game. All pieces are upbeat, blippy-techno style.
The game's theme throughout its presentation is that of the manga. Color schemes, art styles, and even loading screens are all nods to the original Japanese tankobōn run of the series. For example, the orange on Goku's gi is not in the saturated shade of vermilion depicted in the TV series; images on the main menu are significant colored images from the manga; loading screens mirror the original Japanese tankobōn cover art; sound effects are written out during battle when an excessively-hard hit connects; etc.
Akira Toriyama, the original author of the manga, was consulted to design an updated Mecha Frieza for the home release of the game. This updated design includes a large rocket-launcher on his right shoulder, a grenade launcher on his left shoulder, packs of explosives on his belt, and razor explosives down the length of his tail.
As it would seem, Atari have made a few alterations to their North American version of this release. The opening song, "Cha-La Head-Cha-La (2005 ver.)" has been replaced with an unknown techno instrumental similar to Bruce Faulconer's work. Also, the Japanese manga-style sound effects have been altered to an English translation, apparently to help with the translation of the game. Finally, there is no option for the Japanese voice actors, which completely contrasts the previous North American releases of Sparking!, Budokai 3 (GH), and even the PlayStation Portable's Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai. The PAL version has the same opening song and manga-style sound effect translations as the US version, but alternatively retains the Japanese voice actors with no option to change to the English cast (similar to the release of the PAL version of Budokai).
However, there would seem to be one optional Japanese voice actor from Atari left in. Jouji Yanami is evidently one of the unlockable "Narration" voices for the game, even credited in the "Original Mode" ending sequence. Despite this, there is no slot for his voice in the unlockable Narrator wishes, so this may have just been left in by accident.
The game was released at retail price of $40 and is the 6th DBZ game to be released in North America on the PlayStation 2 console (7th counting the release of the Greatest Hits Budokai 3). But overall, other than the alterations mentioned above, nothing is removed/cut from the game. The Dr. Slump character, Suppa Man, is even retained in the "Eastern Capital" level.
Super Dragon Ball Z is one of three games packaged together and released as Dragon Ball Z Trilogy. The other two games in the bundle are Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2.