Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dragonball Z: Hyper Dimension (Super Famicom, 1996)

The best of the side-scrolling 90's DBZ games is, without a doubt, this one. The Super NES in 1996 was a vastly different system than it was in 1991. I don't know if any other system had graphics improve so much over its lifespan.

This is from the same company as the Super Butoden games. How is it vastly better? Maybe they switched their development teams around over the two years before this game launched.

 We start with a slightly blurry and hologram-like Eternal Dragon, seen here not being rocked.

 There's also a shot of an oddly evil-looking Gokou staring off into space.

And story mode begins! ...with story! And lots of it. This is the opposite of Ultimate Battle 22 having literally NO text at all.

There's an AWESOME little animation here of Freeza going through all of his forms. Too bad only the fourth is playable.

 The first fight is Piccolo versus Freeza. Chances are, Piccolo has more of a reason to hate Freeza than ANYONE else. And Freeza is about as hateable as King Joffrey.

 Not sure if this is winnable, but Piccolo is vastly outgunned and even if you lose you still move on with the story. I prefer this to the more recent DBZ games that would make you beat Freeza with every character who fought against him at all.

 Ah, early DBZ. When death actually meant something.

 Gokou is Super Saiyan 2, which is his only variation in this game. Just roll with it.

A ferocious battle follows, which portrays the two as evenly-matched. The numbers on the sides of the screen are their health, and the yellow life meters don't actually start depleting until 150.

Gokou wins, of course. This is the first fight that you have to win. For some reason these games can't seem to settle on whether SSJ Gokou and Freeza were evenly-matched or SSJ Gokou was vastly more powerful.

It's also worth noting that the music in this game is very, very good. 

Cell gets a similar quick metamorphosis graphic that shows all of his forms briefly.

Vegeta gets to be the sacrificial character this time and fight Cell in a battle that isn't needed to win.

While Gokou punches 'em in the dick, Vegeta knees 'em in the dick!

 Vegeta is in Majin form, obviously, which is as much of an anachronism as Gokou being in Super Saiyan 2 for the whole game. 

 The first real Cell fight is Gokou. It's also the LAST real Cell fight, since story mode leaves Gohan out. What the heck?

Gokou dishes out a Kamehameha! While the sky plane is omitted from this game, it has some pretty good usage of the background plane. Characters can zip into the background to dodge attacks, then launch their own counter as they return to the foreground. That's what Cell is doing here.

This fight is quite difficult. Actually, this -game- is quite difficult. Probably the hardest out of all of these early games.

You only get three continues, too. Yep, this one is a real challenge. 

 It's possible to get locked up in a pummel-war with your opponent, just like in the show.

Cell fires back with a Kamehameha of his own! Taste the rad to the max animation!

Just when I think I've got him... a double KO? Seriously?

 Yeah, this fight was an absolute war right to the end.

Gokou throws in the towel after his brawl with Cell. Would it kill him to ever actually lose? Gokoumania would still be running just as wild.

I was expecting Gohan Vs. Cell next, but instead the game just totally glosses over that part of the story. Whoa. It makes sure to point out that Gohan needed Gokou's help to strike the finishing blow against Cell, too. Poor Gohan.

Vegeta goes Majin (even though he already was) and the next big battle is immediately set up.

This fight is pretty much the selling point of this game (while Gohan Vs. Cell was the selling point of the last few).

Another damn good battle theme. Plays for Gokou Vs. Vegeta, and a couple other fights. The soundtrack for this game is off the charts, and reminds me of Secret of Mana at times.

Even though the first battle between these two early in the show was what got me into DBZ to begin with, I think the second battle late in the show is even better.

Vegeta's throw attack causes him to strike with multiple headbutts. He's a vicious fighter.

Victory by a razor-thin margin, to say the least.

The show's lamest villain has arrived. While Freeza and Cell were both brimming with personality, Majin Buu is known for lots of Pokemonesque dialogue and monkey noises.

Vegeta gets to be sacrificial lamb again, as he finds himself unable to defeat Buu. Much like the show, he then sacrifices himself in a last ditch attempt to eradicate Buu. Ya know, Buu's regeneration ability would be more impressive if we hadn't already seen the same thing from Cell.

Gokou fights Majin Buu next, and this time the fight is winnable... but EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. This is the hardest fight in an already-hard game.

One of the main reasons is because Buu has this unblockable special attack that does huge damage.

During this fight, it's possible to fall out of the sky and end up in... uh... Hell?

More summing-up from the story. This is reaching Radical Dreamers levels of text!

Buu's transformation shot is less interesting than the others. Basically just goes from Majin Buu to Kid Buu. One of the things I liked about Ultimate Battle 22 is that for a final boss it gave us Super Buu, the non-Kid version of evil Buu.

To power up, Kid Buu screeches like a monkey while pounding his chest.

Kid Buu is just as personality-deficient as his predecessor.

Vegeta gets to play the jobber role yet again, and Kid Buu's victory dance is genie impression.

We also get a Buu Vs. Buu fight, again almost unwinnable.

Majin Buu does have a pretty sweet belly-based offense, though. He can belly-thrust faster than some characters can punch.

Another Gokou Vs. Buu fight follows, and this one has to be won. For the most part, any non-Gokou fights in this game can be thrown. This is another difficult fight; I found the most effective attack to be a flying kick followed by two or three quick punches.

While Super Buu is the last story mode fight, the game gives you several "Special Fights" after that. No story for these. Good to finally see Mystical Gohan and Gotenks in action, but it's weird that the game didn't let you fight Buu with these guys instead of having this random-ish match.

Looking at this more or less mixed and matched fight, it occurs to me that the strength of this game lies in its two player mode. As fun and polished as this game is, the story mode is limited and difficult. In two-player mode with a friend, you could come up with all kinds of matchups.

The final official fight is Gokou Vs. Gohan, and it's the most difficult fight in the game. Main reason is because Gohan possesses a super-cheap jump kick that seems to take precedence over ANY other attack. The CPU likes to counter every air attack you do with this.

And that's it for story mode. Good game, and check out the soundtrack on Youtube if you haven't already.

The ending screen is super-serene, showing a water surface with leaves drifting by. This game does have something strangely calm and mature about it compared to the bombastic earlier games.

But wait! Let's take a look at the character select for two-player mode. There's one character who didn't show up at all in story mode, and it's the mighty Vegetto.

He's definitely the best character in the game, and it's a wonder that the game didn't pit him against Super Buu for the final battle.

That pretty much sums things up for Hyper Dimension. There's only so much to say about these DBZ fighting games. Onward to some of the RPGs.


  1. I didn't know about this game, I should check it out.

    ...God of Death and Justice?

  2. The title screen has characters other than Gokou! So it's already a win.
    They make sure to mention Gohan needed Gokou's help but they never talk about how Gokou needs everyone else's help! Is Gokou a Job Creator?
    Ohh yeah, this looks great. Great graphics and interesting fights.