Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dragonball Z Super Butoden (Super Famicom, 1993)

Super Butoden is a trilogy of fighting games developed by Bandai in the early 90's. They should perhaps be called Super Butt-oden, because they're butt. That said, they have great soundtracks, and the novelty of just seeing these characters in a 16-bit fighting game was amazing.

 This game covers the beginning of the series right up through Perfect Cell. Skips a ton of stuff in the interim though. Let's take a look.

The first battle transpires at the end of the original Dragonball, with Gokou facing off against Piccolo.

 Gokou: "Rrrrrr!"

 Piccolo: "FIRST I'll save her THEN I'll kill her!"

 I like Gokou's Mega Man esque jumps. It needs to be said that right off the bat, the controls for this game are atrociously bad. It moves in nearly slow motion, and the jumps are floaty astronaut jumps that you have no real control over. Yikes.

Gokou bests Piccolo in non-mortal combat, and it's on to the next stage.

 A scroll of story exposition that I can't read! I..CAN'T...REAAAD!

 Next up, we jump forward to the signature rivalry of the DBZ series, Gokou Vs. Vegeta. It's a bit disappointing that the game entirely skips over the battles with Raditz and Nappa. I want to fight the Saibamen, dammit!

The later DBZ games for the PS2 and Wii (and onward) would take things in the other direction, giving us EVERY POSSIBLE BATTLE to the point that their story modes take ages. If two characters even looked at each other funny in the series, they'll have a battle in the latter-day DBZ games.

 Gokou has more reach than Vegeta, something that the announcers would harp on if this were an MMA fight.

One cool thing about this game is that with a press of a button you can leap between the ground plane and the sky plane. Each has its own advantages, but for the most part they're similar. The game is slow and plodding no matter where you are, and it'd be a long time before we see anything resembling an aerial dogfight in one of these games.

 If one character loses, another character steps in. In this case, Piccolo jumps in after Gokou is beaten, and the fight restarts.

 Piccolo is weaker than Gokou at this point, and loses as well. Here we see Vegeta doing a FINAL FLASH (wait, what? Didn't he start doing that in the Buu Saga?)

 After continuing, you get your characters back. Managed to win with Gokou this time.

 And now the game jumps right to Freeza. Do not pass go. SSJ Gokou is now selectable, as is (regular) Vegeta.

 I take Vegeta to fight Freeza. Time for payback!

 One particularly irritating thing about this game is that the computer CONSTANTLY turtles up and blocks. You can stand there and not do anything and the computer is more likely to cautiously block than launch an attack. It drags the fights out way more than is necessary.

 Vegeta avenges himself, and goes on to...

 ...become Super Saiyan! To this day, there's something really cool about seeing Vegeta achieve this.

 Vegeta battles Dr. Wily for the fate of Earth. Did this guy ever even fight in the show? I've always thought he did, but now I can't remember it actually happening.

 Despite all his turtling, this fight is one of the easier ones. Something to note is that small energy blasts do damage even to a blocking foe. So if the CPU forces you to, you can chip away at them that way.

#18 is the next fight. It's worth noting that the life meters of the characters in this game get longer as story mode progresses. One thing I like about DBZ fighting games is that there's an RPG-like sense of level progression as you proceed through the game. The characters actually get stronger, as they did in the show.

 Unlike the show, Vegeta trounces her. That's the second fight avenged! Now it just needs to let me fight Freeza with Kuririn. Too bad most of these early games totally ignore Kuririn and the rest of the original Z Fighter crew.

Imperfect Cell is next. I fight him with Piccolo, as was the case in the show. No sign of Android #17, and Cell's second form is skipped over as well.

Alas, Piccolo loses. Cell has this nasty energy drain attack where he steals life from you. It's unblockable. What vile necromancy is this?

 Bringing in Gokou, who has been out of action for a while, to avenge Namek's Favorite Son. Ya know, it's Piccolo's fault that Cell was so hard for the heroes to defeat, since Cell possessed Piccolo's regeneration ability.

ELBOW TO THE GROIN! Too bad Cell doesn't HAVE a groin.

 He does have a Kamehameha. Ability-stealing bastard!

 Android #16 is next. Seriously, no Android #17? If you're playing on Easy, this is the final battle. Might also have to do with whether or not you use the proper characters for the fights. Either way, the game ended after this, which caught me by surprise. This is a really weird choice for final battle... why not end it with Imperfect Cell right before this?

 I do things over again, this time on Normal. Not such a free ride this time, but the enemy turtling isn't quite as bad. This time I use the proper characters, like Gokou against Freeza.

Kuririn-Avenger Beam '93!

 After defeating Android #16, the game mercifully progresses to the next battle. This one has Vegeta and Trunks training in the Room of Spirit and Time.

 It'd be awesome if you could choose which of the two to play as, but I'm pretty sure you're stuck playing as Vegeta.

 That battle is followed by another father vs. son battle in the same arena, with the same music. This one is a bit tougher because Gohan is the strongest of the four.

 After that, it's on to Perfect Cell. You get not two, not three, but SIX characters to choose from for this one, including the debut of Mirai Trunks in a playable form. As much as I'd like to play as him, this is Gohan's fight.

 Android #16 is also playable at this point, which is a little bit odd. Isn't he supposed to be dead by now?

 Or perhaps not, since Gohan isn't Super Saiyan 2 yet. Here he is (w/ shiny gold hair) versus Perfect Cell (w/ pope hat).

 This is a real final battle. Perfect Cell is WAAAAAY tougher than anyone else in the game. It's like fighting the final bosses of Mortal Kombat II. He's got reach, speed, power, and can easily combo you to death if he catches you in a corner.

 A lot of his attacks strike at weird angles and completely bypass your blocking, too. He's sorta the anti-turtling character. Too bad he isn't playable, he'd be kryptonite against the CPU.

In a nice nod to series continuity, Cell also has the super moves of a bunch of the characters. Here he is busting out Vegeta's Final Flash.

 After a bunch of tries, I eke out a win. Was expecting another fight after this with Gohan and Cell both in Super Saiyan 2 (yes, Cell goes Super Saiyan 2 an episode or two after Gohan does), but no dice. This is the end. Weirdness. They're saving Super Saiyan 2 for the next game, I guess.

 Meanwhile, Dende casts the spell of Meteor on the doomed Planet Earth. NO, DENDE! THE WORLD WILL SURVIVE YOU! It has faced worse before. It... it survived us.

So...that's it. The end. This game is pretty awful, but that's to be expected given that it's the first real DBZ fighting game. The near slow-motion speed is the most surprising thing about this game, given that this is a series most associate with fast-moving fights. ...and fast-moving nothing else, given that characters spend entire episodes powering up, grunting, and staring at each other while wind howls by. In that sense, maybe the speed of this game makes perfect sense.


  1. To answer your Final Flash question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1yH7SIOkwU

    A 2D DBZ fighter is a good idea in theory, but in practice the only great one I've ever played is Budokai 3.

  2. These guys all speak really manly and impolite Japanese, fitting since they're supermen fighting each other.