The Dragon Ball series is a weird one for us to look at. We never really got on with the odd plots and convoluted stories, but its design is definitely iconic. The series has become very popular in the west, but its still niche compared to contemporary western animation and general programming (at least to us). Saying that, lots of people have been telling us it’s entertaining enough so that’s why we decided to sit down and have a play on Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2: a fighting game featuring the wacky array of fighters.
Unfortunately, after about 10-15 minutes we wished we didn’t. This game is a convoluted mess of dodgy controls and archaic gameplay mechanics. The controls are bad because they’re complicated and don’t make any sense. For a fighting game, they are remarkably “floaty” and sluggish which completely ruins the feel of the game. These characters are supposedly pumped-up badasses, but they feel like controlling an old person on one of those weird lazy sit-down scooter-type things.
Apparently, you can’t perform special moves until a certain timeframe and there’s no clear marker to say when you can use them. You have to risk a second of fight-time to fiddle clumsily with the right thumbstick. See, the problem with Raging Blast 2 is that it does nothing to introduce new players. The menus and modes are pretty much basic masks for 1v1 fights. There’s no story mode, like the excellent Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 we reviewed the other week. Gamers don’t want to play as someone they know nothing about, even if they do have a witty catchphrase before every fight.
It seems that Raging Blast 2 is for hardcore fans only, and that’s a shame given the series’ apparent popularity outside our time-locked offices. On the plus side, there aren’t any annoying quick time events or weird detractions from the gameplay no matter how much you wish for something to break up the monotony. For a fighting game, it beggars us beyond belief how this managed to get to retail as a full-blown console release. The combo system is atrocious and repetitive: it leaves you open to attack after every move. This gives the opportunistic enemy AI time to land impossible 20-hit combos and destroy you.
On the plus side though, there is a sizeable cast of fighters here to play as and you don’t need to unlock anyone as they’re all available to play with from the off. The designs of the characters match their iconic counterparts in the anime and their movement seems to look fine enough. Taking a tip from Street Fighter IV, facial reactions are subtle yet effective so that’s also a plus point. Moreover, the fighting arenas offer a solid mix of environments and seem to be sized just right for bouts. There are some odd invisible walls to stop you fighting for miles, but they don’t really get in the way. When coupled with the ability to fight both underwater and whilst flying, there’s no doubting the fight space available.
Furthermore, it isn’t buggy and offers a decent challenge. When you get good at playing it, Raging Blast 2 can make you feel absolutely amazing. You will hate yourself for it given the controls and fight engine, but there will be a few moments that will give you a big silly grin. It’s for this very reason that the game disappoints so much though. It gets your hopes up with epic clashes and then dashes them with convoluted mechanics. In essence, Raging Blast 2 is the gaming equivalent of being stuck in the friend zone. You want to like it and learn everything about it, but it will push you away in favour of someone more experienced. Except this time, it actually isn’t you; it’s the game.
Verdict: Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 is a demonstration of frustration. The silly control system will make a mockery of you, despite your attempts to try to enjoy it. There has been no effort made to provide newcomers to the franchise with any kind of narrative backing to the characters or even a series introduction. The closest thing Namco Bandai do to introduce players to the series is with a Dragon Ball movie included in-game, but even that’s hidden behind menus and is one of the weaker films. The main point to take away though is how frustrated it will make you feel. Please avoid this game if you like your controllers and time.