Scripted Gaming – DragonBall Xenoverse
DragonBall Xenoverse 2 is right around the corner, folks, so let’s all take a look back at its predecessor from the mind of a snarky writer. Let’s get into some Scripted Gaming.
Warning: Here There Be Spoilers
All right, here’s a little preface. I… am not a terribly huge fan of DragonBall Z. I know, I know.
Hey. Could be worse. I could’ve said it sucked. In fairness, I actually don’t think that it does. I think there’s genuine value to be found in the series, and I certainly don’t intend to dispute its significance to pop culture as a whole. It is, after all, one of the flagship anime. At least when it comes to introducing anime to the west. It’s also surprisingly progressive in its portrayal of female characters, despite nearly all of the principle cast being male. And the “big bad” of the bigger sagas do tend to be at the very least entertaining to watch. Buuut, you’re not here for me to validate the lifeblood of your anime adoration. Let’s talk about Xenoverse, already, yeah?
I have made it absolutely no secret that Bandai is, and has always been, one of my favorite game publishers. After all, they’re responsible for one of my all time favorite franchises (as if you didn’t expect me to mention it, here). And anime-licensed games seem to be kind of their thing, what with all the Naruto, One Piece, and Digimon games. So naturally I went ahead and got Xenoverse with the mindset of “Hey, maybe they can make me give a crap.” Did they? Well… to an extent, sure. The straightforward story helped a lot in terms of letting me dive back into the series. For a little bit of background, I did watch the entire thing, up through the end of the Majin Buu saga. Then I saw an episode or two of GT and promptly decided “Yeah, I think I’m done, here.” Which, let’s be honest, it seems like even the series, itself, is trying to fall in with. From what I understand, GT’s being more or less ignored. I find that… interesting. But I digress. The story of the game managed to be just simple enough, yet just familiar enough that I was able to follow it just fine. And I think even those who never did watch the series would find it easy to follow. It’s essentially a time-hopping adventure that sees your user-created character leaping back in time to stop alterations to major points in DragonBall history. How could that be anything but fun, right? Weeell… the writer in me has a few concerns. And oh, we’re gonna talk about the gameplay. Because oh god, the gameplay.
When you first create your character… well… after a brief prologue, but I digress again, you’re dumped in front of Shenron and approached by… some version of Trunks. After a tutorial you’re basically told why he had Shenron summon you. He wished for a warrior that could go back in time and fix distortions in history. Seems straightforward enough, yeah? Okay. So. Question. What in the name of King Kai did he need you for? I clearly missed something in there. I know this Trunks is technically from Dragon Ball Online and in that game the Lord of Time… basically wagged her finger at him, but here’s the thing about that… she lied. Why is Trunks not doing this, himself? It’s not like he never time travels in the game, either. He does so at least twice, on-screen, counting the DLC. And considering his job is now to fix distortions in time, rather than go back in time to make sure actual bad events don’t occur… where would be the problem with him doing this? That being said, his ambiguous inability to do so is what gets you playing the game as your own original character, which is cool, so I’ll just sweep that one aside… for now. Okay, villain time!
So how are the villains in the game? Meh. There are three of them. Two are working together, one’s entirely on his own and almost completely unrelated to them. The first two villains you run into are Mira and Towa, recycled from previous Dragon Ball games. They’re altering history because… reasons. I’m serious. The best I can tell for their reasoning in history alteration is Towa’s twisted entertainment. Their actual goal is to absorb energy from Z Fighters, so they can open the seal of the demon realm… or something. How much of that comes to fruition? None of it. From what research I’ve done on Towa’s character… literally none of her objectives seem to require time travel. She wants to kill all the Z Fighters because they’re dangerous, and she wants to break the seal of the demon realm. Mira’s her indifferent, artificial husband, and that’s pretty much the whole of it. Aside from sadism, I don’t get their application here. At all. If I’m missing something, please tell me. The bad guy whose evil plan actually makes sense deserves his own paragraph.
Demigra is the game’s real antagonist, teased throughout the game, revealed in the Android Saga, and starting to make life difficult around the Majin Buu saga. So what makes him, in this instance, the better villain? As I said, his super evil plan makes sense… for the most part. It’s straightforward, consistent, and fits the game’s overall setup far more. I almost feel like Towa and Mira were only in the thing at all because of their popularity. That being said, Towa and Mira’s presence is justified on some level by his presence. By tampering with time, they weakened his prison in… the space between spaces, basically, all right? Then he was able to reach out of his little prison with his power, just enough that he could influence events across time on his own. It’s still a little on the flimsy side, with justifying their own logic, but whatever. He marks the player character with a self-destructing symbol at one point… which is called a Majin Emblem… for some reason. Anyway the symbol was intended to destroy literally the only three people who could stop him. Except for… well… the entire rest of the Time Force. Hm. But, then, it seems the game suggests you, Trunks, and the Supreme Kai of Time are the only ones who know about him, so… fine. Whatever. Really there are only two significant flaws here. First and foremost, the dude literally never interacts with Towa and Mira… at all. I know he probably needn’t, but I think it’d have honestly been rather interesting to see, considering their complete conflicts of interest. The other problem is… well… really just the final mission of the game. Demigra intends to destroy the Time Vault, which would kill him, except he opts to ride out the destruction in the crack of time… because sure. That’ll work. Why wouldn’t it? Other than the fact that that was absolutely never established at all, so it seems like little more than plot convenience. But the biggest “Oookay, what?” moment actually has jack all to do with him.
In what may just be a chief example of Deus Ex Machina, the player character somehow just wakes up in… nowhere. Yeah. After Demigra blows up the time vault… because I’m pretty sure that’s what happened, the player character just wakes up in a place that looks a heck of a lot like the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. Because… reasons. I have literally no explanation for this, nor any real witty remarks. I’m at a total loss, here. Demigra launched what was basically the equivalent of an evil super spirit bomb at us. We… should be dead. Did Tokitoki (magical time bird, thing. It’s confusing) do something? We hear his little cooing sound before we black out. But… spoiler alert… Demigra became a true god in the first place by eating that bird (kind of), so… that ain’t it. Or if that is it… that’s very incredibly cheap.
Look, you’re not playing this game for the original story. You’re playing it to relive some of the most iconic moments from the anime. Do you get to do that? Oh yes. And when it happens, it’s awesome. So enjoy that, because it is so worth it. And let’s be honest, that’s what I’ve come to expect, at this point from Dragon Ball. A whole lot of “meh” to get to one or two moments of pure awesome. Do I wish that weren’t the case? Oh god yes. But I’ll take what I can get at this point. Even I got a little nostalgic during the Cell saga… granted, the Cell saga is pretty much the only one I genuinely loved, so… not exactly an uphill battle, is my point.
Oh, but I said we’d talk about gameplay. I’ll be honest. If it’s a fighting game and the words “Smash” and “Bros.” aren’t in it, I’m very likely not good at it. Not only is this game easy to pick up and play, but it’s fairly fun to play around with the different potential combinations of super moves and whatnot. Though… there are some issues that I really, really hope are fixed in Xenoverse 2. The biggest problem is that waiting 3 to 5 seconds, and sometimes even longer for an ultimate attack’s animation is just really non-conducive to PvP and even computer matches against certain characters (the Androids and Cell, in particular, are huge pains in the rear about knocking you out of ultimates). If you’re going to lock us into animations, for the love of god don’t make them real-time. The very idea of that is just made of stupid. In PvP you’re lucky if a Ki ultimate ever hits. Because unless your stamina’s been depleted and you literally can’t run away, you’d have to have the reflexes of a granny on morphine to not dodge them. Strike ultimates tend to be a bit better. Victory Rush has been my best friend for a while because of how quick and reliable it tends to be. But that’s going on a tangent.
What else is there to talk about? Well, unless I’m missing something, it’s pretty annoying that I can’t turn off Trunks’s use of the controller speaker when talking to me. Mainly because I tend to play with a headset on and that makes him extra loud and annoying on it when I’m busy grinding a mission to collect Dragon Ba- oh! Oh right! How ever could I forget about that bollocks?! Mission Grinding!
Allow me to elaborate. You see, this game… is a troll. It’s a troll that knows all the right words, and exactly how to make itself look like a human being. But do not be deceived. What do I mean? The good people at Dimps (the developer) decided “Hey! You know what’d be a good idea for this game? RNG!” Because, you know, everybody loves RNG, right? Right?! Oh, Dimps, you wonderfully, amazingly crafty devils. You had me going there. I almost found myself thoroughly enjoying this game on a much greater level. Well unfortunately for you, Dimps-y…
Look, based on my association with a few other people, I’m sure at least some of you, out there, play Destiny. From what I’ve heard, the RNG in that game is a nightmare. Is it as bad as in this game? I dunno. Ask Grant. He’s actually played both (hi, Grant!). But I will say that the RNG in this game is among the worst I’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with… and I’ve put up with Dragon Age: Inquisition (thank GOD for that Black Emporium DLC. I FINALLY got my Elven Armor with that). For a game where one of the key features is customizing your character, it’s sure a pain to get most of the better cosmetic items in the game. The shop is nice, but seeing as it doesn’t get all of the items, like it should, you have to get most of the cooler cosmetic items from missions. The only reason I can come up with to justify this is because items have stat boosts attached to them… which is a mechanic I have never not hated. Take DCU Online, for example. Yes, items determine your stats in the game, buuut you can dictate how you look by simply going over to the style option of the menu and changing out your cosmetics. Granted, DCU’s RNG is also atrocious, but at least it isn’t this nightmare.
Allow me to elaborate. The way RNG works is basically in one of two ways. Several items are locked purely behind the first round of any Parallel Quest. In other words, all you’d need to do to get them is beat the quest normally or beat a certain character within that quest. Do this over and over and over again and, yeah, it’s annoying, but eventually you’ll get what you want. But no. That’s not where this ends. Because there are a handful of items locked behind Ultimate Finishes, meaning you have to beat the quest and the quest’s bonus objective. Why is that a problem? Because the bonus objectives, themselves, don’t always appear. Yeah. That’s right. Even if you meet all of the requirements, and then some, there’s only a chance that the bonus objectives will trigger. So not only is there a chance you won’t be able to get an item, but there’s also a chance you won’t be able to get a Z Rank on a mission, even if you earn it. That is utter bull on every conceivable level. This is RNG-ception, we’re talking about, here. It’s absurd. It isn’t even like Overwatch or some other game with micro-transactions, where they hide all that other stuff behind a paywall to tempt you to just buy it. There is nowhere to just buy it. You have literally no option, but to grind. And it’s made more annoying by the fact that, as far as I can tell, all the items have the exact same rarity. In other words, items with incredibly low stat boosts (and debuffs, because of course they have debuffs) are equally as rare as ones with much higher rankings. Proof? I spent 3 or 4 days – days – trying to get Videl’s shirt… dress… thing. That item has one of the smallest boosts in the game. Yet it took me just as long to get the freakin Gogeta clothes. That… is utter balls. But if I’m being honest… it’s not even remotely the game’s only problem.
Let’s just talk about the localization, shall we? Look. I know. Localization = Mistakes. But. It. Shouldn’t. For crying out loud, there’s an entire bloody tumblr page dedicated to all the typos in the game… and I’ve since found more that aren’t even mentioned on that page! At the very least you don’t want there to be typos in a game surrounding a franchise this big, with this dedicated a fanbase. That’s just not okay. Even friggin’ Nintendo runs into this when a game isn’t released globally around the same time, like Pokemon, Zelda, and Mario games tend to be. Do you have any idea how many typos I’ve found in Fire Emblem? And that’s just typos. Guess what? Doesn’t matter what your character’s gender in the game, you are referred to as a “he,” literally every time you’re referred to except once when you’re called a “her”… again, despite your gender. That… makes no sense. And yes. I’m aware that it’s a translation issue. But that’s not an excuse when other localizations can pull this off with literally no problem. Far as I can gather, it’s just a sign that the dub studio, and the other bodies responsible for localization, weren’t given all of the necessary resources to make this game happen with sufficient quality. Sigh. Eh. C’est la vie.
There are other issues. If you don’t have Tien’s Z-Soul, getting through just about ANY parallel quest with Saiyans is nearly impossible because they tend to just Kamehameha-spam you. You might as well have invested every possible point into stamina if you intend to ever fight Vegeta and Trunks at once because of how combo-spammy they are, together (note: take out Vegeta first. Seriously. Trunks is bad, but Vegeta can pummel you up close AND at a distance, unlike Trunks, who’s more or less entirely built for close combat). The second of the DLC missions that requires you to fight three great apes has a bug in which Nappa will, for whatever reason, outright refuse to attack you, and will just repeatedly turn in a circle, making it impossible to grab his tail, meaning you basically just have to hit him. Not exactly fun if you’re a level 15, just trying to do the mission to gain some quick levels. And those are just some of the things I’ve noticed.
I like this game. I really do. Behind the insanely frustrating mechanics of it is a lot of fun, even for someone who’s really just… sort of lukewarm towards DragonBall Z, at best (though I do feel the need to remind people that I absolutely adore its predecessor). That being said, I hope Xenoverse 2 proves that they’ve learned from all the feedback this game got. It sounds like they may have listened a bit, but we shall see. Til then, game on, everyone. Thanks, as always, for reading.
Keep up the awesome, and take care