Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dragonball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 (Playstation, 1995)

 The next game doesn't even bother having non-Gokou characters on the cover. This one is ALL GOKOU, ALL THE TIME! It's also a pretty bad game, but we'll get to that. Ultimate Battle 22 is so-named because it features 22 characters, the largest roster in a DBZ game yet. It actually has 27 characters if you punch in a code, so I don't know why they didn't just unlock those characters from the start and call it Ultimate Battle 27.

 Don't let the 2003 fool you, this game was released in 1995. I'm playing the American version, which released in 2003 (well after the PSX had essentially ended its run). I believe Europe got the game in 1995, but it sold about three copies since DBZ didn't air in Europe until years later.

The intro video for the game. It's pretty good, as these intro videos usually are. Notice how Kaioshin (Supreme Kai) doesn't do anything? Weird. Just kinda dodders around looking confused.

The main claim to fame that Ultimate Battle 22 has is that Gogeta and SSJ3 Gokou are selectable characters for the first time.

 The first loading screen of the game has Not-so-evil Buu sleeping. Unfortunately, this is his last appearance. From here on out, these screens are just the word "Loading" with no picture. Considering that about 20% of this game is the Loading screen, it sux that they didn't even give us a picture to look at after the first loading screen. This game is in dire need of some Suikoden-esque running character sprites.

 The character select screen is a bit of a mess. Some of the characters are barely even visible among the pile.

Tien finally gets a bit of recognition. Mirai Trunks is a really cool character to play as. Wish he'd stuck around, because I'm not too keen on Chibi Trunks. ...but without him Mirai Trunks can't exist. Arg.

 ::silence fills the air::

 Gokou seems to be in Super Saiyan 2 in this game. I think. It's hard to tell. Ginyu and Recoome reprise their roles from Retsuden, plus we get Zarbon. Still no Android #17, weirdly enough.

This game plays the same as the earlier games. Two planes of movement, kick/punch/fireball. However, it does add some close-range combos in place of throws for some characters. For instance...

Man, Gokou's throw attack is just him WAILING on his opponent's groin. Seriously.

Here's an example of the upper sky plane. For the most part it's fairly useless in this game, since the enemies won't really use it or follow you up there very often. One thing I like is that character movements have afterimages.

Mirai Trunks Vs. Dabura is something that never happened in the show. It's worth noting that regular attacks do very little damage compared to special attacks. The disparity is odd, to say the least. Until I figured this out, the fights were taking a while because my attacks were chipping away at enemy health. The CPU relies heavily on specials, so for a while it seemed like the CPU was doing way more damage than I was for no real reason. And by specials I mean literally anything that isn't a kick/punch/fireball.

Punch in a code on the title screen (a very simple one) and the character select screen gets even more confusing with the additions of Kid Gokou, Mr. Satan, Muten Roshi, SSJ3 Gokou, and Gogeta.

 SSJ3 Gokou is really fun to play as. He's faster and stronger than regular Gokou and has little trouble dispatching most opponents. Gogeta might be even better, hard to say.

Only problem is, since this game has a weird lack of particle effects, there's no aura or electricity around SSJ3 Gokou. As a result, he ends up looking like he has macaroni and cheese pouring out of his head. The visuals could have been a lot more defined.

Know what's weird? SSJ3 Gokou is taller than Perfect Cell. Even when he isn't hunching over. Really?

 Yep, there's a LOOOOT of this. Just trying to give you the full experience. Actually the full experience would be one of these every two or three images.

 Gogeta is pretty awesome. They mislabeled him Vegeto here, for whatever reason.

 Another "secret" character is Muten Roshi. Apparently in the Japanese version he's called "Genius Turtle".

 Mr. Satan can't fly or do energy attacks, so instead he throws spoons. Or maybe they're grenades? No idea.

 Dragonball Goku is the last secret character. He's got the small character advantage (which is MASSIVE in this game) but his attacks have almost no range.

 Zarbon isn't a secret character, but he's new. I figured he would be a speedy character, but he's actually one of the slower ones.

 Speaking of small character advantages, Kid Trunks absolutely whooped my ass. I needed something like eight tries to get past this fight. It's so difficult to hit small characters unless you're using a small character.

 I finally beat him with Gotenks...BARELY. Holy shit.

 Recoome is my next opponent, and he has the large character disadvantage in that he's very easy to hit. This "story mode" barely counts as a story mode. There's no actual story and bounces all over the place. Seems like it just randomly gives you opponents until you've beaten all of them.

Freeza does his Psycho Mantis impression in this game. He also says "Death BOOOL!" before launching his patented move.

 SSJ3 Gokou is taller than regular Gokou! Okay, I know there's some weirdness going on here.

 Mirai Trunks has a ruined city for a stage. It's almost chilling to look at.

 Tien may be known for having Gokou's back, but Gokou is known for PUNCH 'EM IN THE DICK.

 Aside from Testicular Destruction Super Combo, even his ducking punches are just dick-uppercuts.

Seriously, what's up with SSJ3 Gokou's height? He's HUGE. He makes Android #18 look like a dwarf!
This game has a significant lack of beams. Here's Kuririn doing a Kamehameha. Looks more like an energy ball. What gives? Did the PSX have trouble rendering beams in 1995?
Kaioshin dodders about uselessly. Might well be the most useless character in the latter parts of the show. And Kaioshin is such a badass name, too.

Pretty Soldier Great Saiyaman is one of the selectable characters. No Mystical Gohan, though. For great justice and love.

 The penultimate battle of the game is against Majin Buu, who has all kinds of sweet new moves like multi-directional fireballs. I just can't take this guy seriously, though. Part of me wishes the show had ended with Cell, or right after the second Gokou/Vegeta fight. Having Vegeta be the final bad guy of the show would have been a nice way to go full circle, and I wasn't crazy about anything that happened after that. Plus, with SSJ2 being the coolest one (in my view, anyway), an SSJ2 versus SSJ2 fight would have been a great finale.

 The last battle in this game? Super Buu(tm). That is one crowded character select.

It's quite a final battle, transpiring in some kind of void. One of the tougher fights in the game.

And that's it. This game is pretty bad. The gameplay is slow, the hit detection is off, and in general it improves little from the SFC/Megadrive games besides adding more characters.

I'll say this for the game... the music is really good. The soundtrack is largely shared with 1997's Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout, though that game remixes and improves the tracks from this game. Here's Piccolo's theme, which is pretty damn awesome.


  1. Whoa, I didn't know it had shared music with Final Bout. I need to check the soundtrack out.

    This game had tons of import heat back in 1998.

  2. With all this loading time slowing things down, it's clear the Nintendo 64 is the system of the future!
    Dragonball Goku is a great secret character.
    Ahh this game has all the tacky trademark symbols.
    I sense you liked the previous game better.