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Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors
game: Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Atari
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed Aug 4th, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed Aug 4th, 2004

By Eric Qualls

After the horrid experience that was Taiketsu last year, I wasn't exactly looking forward to a new Dragon Ball Z fighting game on the GBA. Luckily, Supersonic Warriors is about a thousand times better than Taiketsu, but that isn't really saying much. Supersonic Warriors does a few things that we haven't seen in DBZ games before, such as tag team matches, and also features the best flying and midair combat in any DBZ game to date. It is, however, still a simplistic button masher at heart.

Supersonic Warriors packs a ton of characters and a bunch of modes to use them in. Goku, Frieza, Buu, Gohan, and pretty much everyone else you could want are on hand to duke it out DBZ style. Modes include Z-Battle, story, challenge, training, free battle, and a multiplayer mode. When you win a match in Z-Battle, story, or challenge, you get points that you can use to unlock new characters and story mode scenarios. The story mode is an abridged version of the DBZ storyline, so you should know what to expect there.

The fighting engine is still extremely simplistic and makes the Budokai games look like brain surgery in comparison. The A and B buttons launch strong and weak attacks, but they are also used to block. When an opponent attacks, you have a small window of opportunity to block and then counter. This sounds sort of goofy having attack buttons pull double duty, but it actually works fairly well. As you land punches and combos your ki meter goes up and you can then press the R button along with the attack buttons to launch energy projectiles as well as signature attacks and finishing moves. There is also a momentum meter at the top of the screen that shows which side the battle is favoring at any given moment. If the meter reaches the edge, that character is stunned and the character with the upper hand in the battle can launch special attacks that do maximum damage. You can even knock your opponent through mountains when they are stunned, which is sure to make DBZ fans happy.

There are a couple of new tricks up Supersonic Warriors' sleeves, however, that set it apart from other DBZ fighting games. First of all is the ability to compete in tag team matches with up to three characters on each team. You can switch characters in and out with a simple press of a button and you can determine where they come in at by pressing the directional pad to make them appear in front of, behind, or even above the opponent. The tag aspect of the game works very well and makes matches just a little bit more interesting.

Something else that Supersonic Warriors brings to the table is improved aerial combat. The Budokai games have this but it wasn't implemented very well, and Taiketsu didn't feature it at all, so it's a nice surprise that it is so good in Supersonic Warriors. Basically, you can fly whenever you want, wherever you want and it is as easy as just pressing up. It doesn't change the combat too terribly much, but there is something fun about being able to just fly around at will. Flight is a major part of the TV show and it just seems strange that it has taken this long for it to be used correctly.

Despite the fact that the game is vastly improved over Taiketsu, Supersonic Warriors still suffers from being too simple. I find it odd that in the DBZ universe we see characters changing and growing and gaining new powers all the time, but the DBZ fighting games are always simplistic and limited. You only have a handful of moves and combos to perform and all of the characters play exactly the same. Throw in a lethal dose of button mashing and you have a fighting engine that is still in severe need of a tune up. The tag team matches make the game a little bit more interesting since you can work in some interesting combos, but you are still using the same moves for every character and doing way too much button mashing.

Visually, Supersonic Warriors is really quite impressive. The characters are nicely animated and look exactly like the TV show. The story mode uses character portraits and scenes taken directly from the show and they look excellent. When you are fighting up in the air, the camera zooms in and out as the characters move away from each other and even when they are at their smallest the characters still look good. The sound is also very well done and there is music and even voice work taken from the TV show. If you are a fan of Dragon Ball Z, you can do a lot worse than Supersonic Warriors if you are looking for some DBZ action. The game is far from great, but the detail put into the characters and their signature moves is probably more than enough to keep fans happy. The fighting engine is about as deep as a puddle, however, and button mashing is the easiest way to accomplish anything, so don't expect a great fighting experience. Even with its flaws, Supersonic Warriors is still light years ahead of Taiketsu or Ultimate Battle 22. It isn't great, but it is fun for a while and DBZ fans will love it, so check Supersonic Warriors out at your own risk.