GDC 2018: Dragon Ball Legends Interview: Goku On The Go

Dragon Ball Legends' Overseas Producer explains how the process of balancing his game and how he used to like Vegeta but is all about Nappa now. 


The Dragon Ball series has been enjoying a major comeback the last few years. Between the new Dragon Ball Super animated series and the Xenoverse and FighterZ games, there’s been plenty of Goku and his ragtag band of pals to go around lately. However, there hasn’t been much of a mobile presence. That should all change soon though when Dragon Ball Legends drops for mobile devices later this year on Android and iPhone.

Legends will allow players to pick three characters from a hefty roster of Dragon Ball regulars to do battle with including series standards like Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, and Frieza. Once a player has their team together they’ll face off against AI or human opponents in a battle similar to some of the rock, papers, scissors mobile combat games out there, but with a few special twists for the Dragon Ball settings.

Players will not only have the standard set of offensive, defensive, and counter moves but will also be able to pull off super fireball attacks as well as team super attacks if they can fill their energy meters enough. Combat isn’t as stationary as in other titles in the genre and players will be able to move their character around and dodge fireball attacks.

From what I gathered during my hands-on time with Dragon Ball Legends, it’s a game all about strategy and timing. Making sure I had the right combo of moves queued up and enough power to pull them off or defend myself if things started going wrong seemed essential to taking down my opponents during my brief demo time with the game.

During a hands-on event held at GDC, I had a chance to sit down with Dragon Ball Legends Overseas Producer Toshitaka Tachibana and discuss the process behind creating the new mobile title and how he keeps a game like this balanced. Please note all questions were asked and answered through a translator.

Shacknews: Where did the idea for Dragon Ball Legends come from?

Toshitaka Tachibana: So the underlying theme or what we wanted to provide for the fans, was, we wanted to give a game where a player could fight another player and prove themselves to be number one. But, unfortunately on the mobile platform back then -it was a couple of years ago- it was hard to realize technologically. So we were looking for lots of things that we could utilize and then ended up finding the Google Cloud platform. So we managed to find an actual way to realize it, to make an environment where players don't have to worry about lag. So this is how we got here.

Shacknews: So it was waiting around for a few years for technology to catch up?

Tachibana: No no no, we weren't waiting. We were looking around. So it took a bit for even finding the right technology.

Shacknews: Obviously the Dragon Ball franchise is very iconic, and it's had a resurgence here in the US recently. How deep into the lore will the game go as far as character rosters and events within the game?

Tachibana: So we have two major game modes besides the player versus player. One is the original story mode where you saw the new character appear. He'll be the main protagonist in that mode. And, all the Dragon Ball series characters will be appearing, not just in one saga, but literally all of them. And two is where you can re-experience the specific stories, iconic scenes, and parts of each episode, and also fight specific characters, and basically dig in deep, per event, for each character.

Shacknews: So this will have its own unique story as well, then?

Tachibana: Yes.

Shacknews: How do you balance making somebody feel as powerful as Goku, while also making him beatable in the game?

Tachibana: Yeah, it's a difficult question, especially because [it's a] free-to-play app, we don't want to give one character to rule them all. It's a very difficult question for us... So in terms of priority, rather than actually being true to the entire story of Dragon Ball where nobody can fight heroes or nobody can fight Super-Sayin Goku, we didn't want for all of that to come true. We wanted to make sure players can control any favorite character that they specifically like, even like Saibamen, or Nappa, things like that.

Actually, originally, I liked Vegeta before I worked on the game title, but now I’m really liking Nappa. So things like that where you can fight against Goku using Nappa, and as long as you know what to do, you can defeat them, and as long as they know what to do, it becomes a good match. So we kind of focused on the experience itself rather than being true to the lore, because everybody already knows the lore. Nobody will be like, "Oh, so apparently Nappa's stronger than Goku."

Shacknews: Yeah, nobody's gonna call that into question.

Tachibana: Do you have a favorite character?

Shacknews: [I like] Vegeta and Trunks.

Tachibana: Trunks, yeah. That's one of the characters that we'll be releasing in the game, too. I can't tell you when, but it'll be a pretty powerful character.

Shacknews: I noticed Pan was in there, too, from GT, so you have some of the GT Saga on the roster?

Tachibana: Definitely. You may have seen at the opening movie with the special graphics, some other characters from the GT saga may appear. Or, a lot more.

Shacknews: How did you go about balancing all the different combat moves?

Tachibana: The work itself is really difficult. So we prepare the moves first, and then we think of the meta afterward, where we provide for a certain party combination of characters to be better than another combination of characters. So it's not just a simple rock, paper, scissors. We don't want one character ruling an entire PVP environment. We want to make sure everybody's thinking who to use during combat for their three characters.

Shacknews: Essentially you want people to have a deeper strategy involved beyond the core because there are similar games on the market that do just seem to not go beyond the surface?

Tachibana: We want to make sure it's not flat, where it's just all about shooting Kamehamehas. It's not just about that.

Shacknews: But Kamehamehas are cool!

Tachibana: Oh yeah. no denying that.

Shacknews: When is Dragon Ball Legends going to be coming out?

Tachibana: This Summer. Actually, pre-registration is up so you may find out earlier than Twitter if you just register for it.

Dragon Ball Legends will be released for iPhone and Android mobile devices Summer 2018.

Events Coordinator

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola