If you're at least passingly familiar with the popular animated Dragon Ball Z franchise, it's not too difficult to imagine how an IP steeped in hand-to-hand combat might utilize Microsoft's Kinect hands-free peripheral. There was little left to imagine after we got to see Dragon Ball Z for Kinect at Namco Bandai's Global Gamers Day last week in Las Vegas.
Full disclosure: I'm not a Dragon Ball Z fan, nor do I know much about the series' fiction, characters, or lore. I'm also not a huge fan of what's been done with the Kinect peripheral in general (Mass Effect 3, aside), and Dragon Ball Z Kinect doesn't seem like it's going to be a game-changer in either respect.
All that aside, my brief time with Dragon Ball Z for Kinect illustrated that if you ARE a fan of the Dragon Ball Z fiction and/or you've found some controller-free games that click for you, you might really enjoy what Dragon Ball Z for Kinect has to offer.
The primarily first-person fighter has the player face off in AI battles against what I assume are iconic characters from the IP. More than fifty playable characters are in the roster, some of which will be unlockable by scanning the (more than 20) special QR codes. One hundred different moves taken straight from Dragon Ball Z canon are also promised, though I saw nowhere near this many during the demo. Thirty minutes of exclusive Dragon Ball Z anime content is also included in the package, another nod to Dragon Ball fans.
The cell-shaded look of the on-screen action is colorful and interesting, and on-screen prompts display both what move you should be doing, and what you're actually doing. The prompts are helpful for staying on track through the defense, attack and finishing stages, but it can make fights start to feel like protracted, physical QTEs. Of course, since you're not actually punching or kicking anything, using a technique more akin to shadowboxing helps counterbalance the lack of physical resistance.
The controls were responsive, the battles were pretty lengthy, and it looks like there's quite a bit of content for fans to dive into. My two cents? If you're a fan of the Dragon Ball Z IP--or are looking for an odd new way to work up a sweat--Dragon Ball Z for Kinect is probably going to be worth a look when it comes out this October.
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