Dragon Ball Fusions (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Drew Hurley 24.02.2017

Review for Dragon Ball Fusions on Nintendo 3DS

While fans of the iconic shonen series currently have plenty to enjoy at home watching the fantastic recent multi-dimensional tournament arc in the anime, or brawling with friends on the latest console release in Dragon Ball: Xenoverse 2, now, those fans can add Dragon Ball to their daily commute, or out and about too! Bandai Namco's latest brings something new and fresh to the series in Dragon Ball Fusions, but new doesn't always mean good… Cubed3 finds out if this latest game is more a Beerus or a Yamcha.

Fusions breaks away from the regular go-to setting for Dragon Ball games. There will be no retelling of the old arcs here, not even with a new twist; instead, there's a completely original story. A plucky nameless protagonist, along with his best friend/rival Pinich, has gathered up the seven Dragon Balls and summons Shenron to find the most powerful fighter in the 7th Universe. The wish granted, the pair is whisked away to a land of floating islands reminiscent of the Xenoverse games where the (you guessed it) great martial arts tournament will take place to establish just who the strongest is.

Screenshot for Dragon Ball Fusions on Nintendo 3DS

The nameless protag is customisable in the same style as the Xenoverse characters, deciding a race from Earthling, Saiyan, Namekian, Offworlder and Alien. Each race has slight differences in their stats, but nothing to justify choosing one over the other based on stats alone. There are plenty of parts available to recreate some of the familiar faces from the series' history in each of these races, though, with Alien including pieces for the Frieza race, members of the Ginyu team and even Saiba Men, while Offworlder has Buu and Kai, amongst others. Once your character is made, it's time to dive into a game that is quite unlike any Dragon Ball title that has come before. It smashes together numerous different styles, genres, and ideas into an insanely glorious mess. There are elements of Pokémon, pool/billiards style trigonometry, Final Fantasy style ATB, and so much more here.

The Pokémon aspect comes from the fact that the tournament is between teams of five, and the protagonist needs to recruit a team made up of the many iconic Z characters and the original creations that are scattered throughout this Xenoverse style world, and then lead that team to victory. Many of the famous characters join the team over the course of the story, but plenty of others are simply wandering the map or are part of side quests, and the only way to recruit them is to defeat them with a special Zenkai Attack. This is definitely one of the best aspects of the game. It's fantastic flying around, tracking down characters from the Androids to Broly, and trying to capture them without killing them. There are over a thousand characters in all to be recruited, although sadly the majority of those are original characters made up from the character creation elements, but there is still a huge catalogue of personas from the series' history.

Screenshot for Dragon Ball Fusions on Nintendo 3DS

When the combat begins, the system uses a top-down Active Time Battle system where the teams of up to five battle inside a small arena. When declaring an attack, whether melee, ki blasts, or special moves, the direction of attack has to be chosen, and the receiver of the attack chooses which direction to block. Should they match up, the attack is blocked and less damage received; should the attack land, the opponent is sent flying. This is where the trigonometry comes in. The enemy can be sent into fellow teammates to land combo attacks, and bouncing enemies further, or enemies sent flying into the allies, has a knock-on effect, sending each consecutive enemy flying too. The combat takes place within the boundaries of an arena, and knocking an enemy outside of these bounds adds extra damage and delays their turn on the ATB.

On top of the main story and all the side quests, there is also a huge list of over 100 missions known as a "Training List." It's filled with the usual things that are easy enough to rack up normally over the course of the game; for example, there are four stages of "Use a Special Move" 10 times, 100 times, 250 times, and finally 500 times. Some of the others are a bit trickier, but really are worth investing some time in. Each completion gives permanent stat boosts for the duration of the game, with bonuses to HP, Defense, Ki attacks, and more.

Screenshot for Dragon Ball Fusions on Nintendo 3DS

There are plenty of other elements to the game too. True to its name, there are plenty of different fusions to play with, tons of special moves to unlock and equip, devastating special attacks for huge amounts of damage, and plenty more to keep the game from getting repetitive. At least it would if not for a couple of frustrating problems. The battles play out an animation upon every single move, not to mention on ring outs there are more animations. After seeing them hundreds and hundreds of times, it's absurdly annoying. It would be so much better if the game just allowed these to be disabled.

Progression through Fusions suffers from strange and poor design decisions, as well. There are five different types of energy, which can be collected by winning battles and recruiting characters, one for each of the races in the game. This energy is used as a gating method, with story progression and side quests locked off behind barriers where energy has to be spent to open them. Gathering this energy is a horrible system, which feels unnecessarily grindy and can ruin the flow of the game. Even worse, each type of energy has a limit on how much can be carried, meaning it can't even be effectively farmed. The game has multiplayer too, but it's limited to just a local multiplayer mode. It's baffling as to why there's no online functionality included.

Screenshot for Dragon Ball Fusions on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Dragon Ball Fusions is such an original and fun idea, yet is plagued with so many flaws and annoyingly flawed aspects of the gameplay that the final product is reduced to something that ends up being a specialist game for hardcore fans that can ignore a 10-12-hour title tripling in lifespan due to so many repeating animations bloating out every combat sequence. There's still an enjoyable game here with some addictive aspects, but it could be so much better with just a few minor tweaks. Quite disappointing.

Developer

Bandai Namco

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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