Admittedly, many of us in the press (and I’m sure some of you out there as well) had the same exact reaction when we heard Dragon Ball Z Kinect announced at Global Gamers Day: instant facepalm. The track record thus far for the Kinect adapting hardcore gaming and geek franchises has been, well, less than stellar and with Dragon Ball Z being another cornerstone of geek-dom for a generation, the shoes that this game has to fill to please its intended audience are massive indeed.
Now, since this is a Kinect game, I guess this is more of a “hands free” preview, but nonetheless, at Namco Bandai’s recent Global Gamers Day, Namco had a chance to put their money where their mouth is. And so shortly after the announcement, I was able to put on an orange jumpsuit, spike my hair (Woo! Woo! Woo!), and relive some of the early moments of an anime near and dear to all our hearts when I jumped into Dragon Ball Z Kinect.
The game is supposed to follow the series from the beginning right up through the Boo Saga and so there promises to be a fair amount of depth in the final product, but we started off with an easier, early battle in Raditz vs Goku (or Piccolo if you’d prefer). Our preview time was brief, only the one battle per person, mostly because each battle was so epic and felt like running a mini-marathon. If you were to emerge victorious, the flurry of constant punches and kicks you had to throw would exhaust even some of the more stellar athletes.
The worst part about this though is that, like so many previous Kinect games before it, the game just did not seem to pick me up as accurately as I would have liked. My punches and kicks all came across fine. But when it came to charging up my Kamehameha or other super moves, the world came to a still as both myself and the computer waited for something to happen. Finally, after several tries, I guess I squatted low enough to charge up Goku’s signature move and I blew Raditz to hell, but hopefully in the six months before this game ships, Namco will be able to tweak things to be a bit more responsive.
Aside from this, the game does come across as something that Dragon Ball Z fans may enjoy as you get to relive all your favorite classic battles. And as you unlock more and more of your favorite characters like Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan, and Krillin, you’ll get some replay value from mixing and matching story mode battles with characters who may not have been originally involved. Not to mention the art style stays true to the series and the voice acting comes straight from anime itself so the presentation at least is very strong.
In the end though, until proven otherwise, it’s going to be hard to believe that any game released for the Kinect with a hardcore fan base as its prime audience will come in at a power level of over 9000, just due to the casual nature of the system and its controls. So we will just have to wait and see if Dragon Ball Z Kinect can break out of that mold or will simply be the latest victim to this motion-sensor trend.