Version Reviewed: 1.1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
[Are the strongest fighters in the world/galaxy/universe giving you trouble? Have a peek at our Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle beginner's guide.]
I’m not what you’d call a Dragon Ball Z fan. I used to watch the show, but I got bored of it after the Cell Saga because it was so mind-numbingly formulaic. Fortunately the sisyphusian nature of the story makes for some pretty good video game fodder. It works in Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle’s favor, too.
Dokkan Battle is sort of the Dragon Ball Z version of puzzle dungeon crawlers like Puzzle & Dragons. The presentation is a bit... let’s go with “different”... but it’s still a matter of grinding through levels to find items, battle enemies, earn experience, and expand/improve your team. But it does so using an over-the-top, bombastic approach that’s easy to get wrapped up in.
Moving through a level is a bit like moving a pawn in a board game. You get three choices for how many steps you move, and whenever you land on a space with something in it (i.e. an item, money, enemy, etc) you get or have to deal with whatever that may be. A little strategy also comes into play as you try to decide the best way to pace your steps and which route to take in a fork, which feels leagues better than just the “tap to fill the progress bar” approach many similar games use.
The puzzle-like fights are similarly simple with a pinch of strategy, with you needing to tap various colored Ki orbs in order to (hopefully) link several like-colors together and perform a more powerful attack. You’ll do twice the damage if you match a set of orbs to the selected character’s color, plus you’ll heal a bit if you’ve taken damage, but you can still get by with using any of the other colors. You’ll also want to shuffle your fighters around in order to plan ahead for combos that will fill-in after clearing some orbs, take advantage of character bonuses (i.e. putting Yamcha next to Chiaotzu, etc), or boost their strength by putting like-elements (Str, Phy, Int, etc) next to each other.
What makes Dokkan Battle are the completely ridiculous battle animations. Mechanically you’re just tapping orbs and matching colors, but once you’ve finished with your selections you get to watch your fighters pound the stuffing out of their targets with blurry punches, explosions, and the occasional giant energy beam that does thousands of points worth of damage. It’s completely bonkers, but that’s a big part of the fun. And the attack animations are reasonably varied, which was a surprise.
I’m not a fan of the way you have to set everything up first and then watch it play out, though. I get that it’s a big part of the presentation, but sometimes you’ll end up wasting a powerful special attack on an enemy that has the tiniest sliver of health left because the fighter(s) who attacked before on the same turn just didn’t quite do enough damage.
I’m not big on Dragon Ball Z or freemium dungeon-crawling puzzle games, but I have to admit Dragon Ball Z Dokken Battle has managed to keep my interest. It’s simple but still a little complex, and the flashy combat is just bonkers enough to make me not care about how little control I have over the action. I’d say give it a shot, no matter your preference.