The game behind door 19 of the RPS Advent Calendar contains the cleverest use of cutscenes in 2018. That's unexpected.
It's Dragon Ball FighterZ!
Dave: When I first played the beta for Dragon Ball FighterZ and had a starting lineup of Goku against Frieza on Planet Namek, I was treated to an in-game recreation of the famous scene in the Dragon Ball Z anime where Goku first becomes Super Saiyan. It’s not the only time the game directly recreates the series, as finishing the fight with Goku against Frieza on a destroyed Namek with a heavy attack gives you the climax of that same fight, and even relatively minor characters Yamcha and Nappa have a fun Dramatic Finish in the Wasteland stage. But seeing that scene, beautifully rendered in the game and given a modern shine, brought back memories and gave me goosebumps.
I’m not massively into anime. For every My Hero Academia out there where I enjoy the premise, there’s another like Attack on Titan that I just find impenetrable. Don’t get me started on why the very thought of Sword Art Online brings me out in hives. So it was a surprise to me that I became a fan of the most Shonen of Shonen Jump manga - Dragon Ball Z - when a friend forced me to watch it.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is not just a pretty face however, as it has everything that I’d hoped for from Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite but which never materialised. The Dragon Ball FighterZ roster has the characters I was largely expecting, for example, but each one has movesets that fit their character. Piccolo uses his stretchy limbs, Frieza has the destructo-disc that comes back and can hit himself if he’s not careful, and so on.
It mimics the anime in heavily featuring screen-wide beams of energy, but it also has a combo system that’s accessible for those who want to get into it and challenging enough for experts to find new ways to get that extra slither of damage. This in turn makes the 3v3 fights frantic. Dragon Ball FighterZ is a lot more technical than any of the Dragon Ball Z tie-ins that have come before it, and more fun for it.
If I had one thing to knock against it, it's that the story mode drags on way too long and feels like some weird fanfiction someone made with all their dream fights in one place. That said, taking breaks from the story mode to either square up against others online, or have a run through the challenging arcade mode more than makes up for it.
For a game that’s as much fun as it is, the number of players on the PC version is criminally low. Presumably there are more players to be found on the console versions of the game, which remain the traditional home of fighting games. However, even if you don’t ever fancy putting up your dukes against another player, Dragon Ball FighterZ has more than enough stuff to play around with.
Looking to open another door? Head back to the RPS Advent Calendar 2018.