Dragon Ball Fusions

Fusions is one of the most interesting Dragon Ball games to emerge in years. It feels like a forgone conclusion for a Dragon Ball game to abide by the fighting genre, while the few that stray are predetermined to be low-budget off-shoots to sweep under the rug immediately. The thing is, Dragon Ball can work so well outside of the typical competitive brawlers it so often spawns. The Legacy of Goku series on GBA, for instance, stand among the very best of DB video games in my mind, yet failed to influence the direction of their successors. Therein lies the appeal of Dragon Ball Fusions (DBF). Here we have a turn-based strategy game revolving around party building and ability management. Pokémon with Dragon Ball characters, in theory. The perfect video game?

The conceit of DBF is recruiting characters to your five man team to compete in turn-based combat. Battles revolve around a turn-based cycle, positioning of your fighters, and a rock, paper, scissors strength hierarchy akin to Pokémon or Fire Emblem. Fights are far deeper and more involved than the typical Dragon Ball fare in theory, but their length and difficulty keep them from being nearly as fun as their core design promises. Battles last forever. Draining five characters’ enormous pools of health becomes a drag after a minute or two, but can last dozens more. Enemies are never intelligent or challenge my strategy, only withstand it for longer than I’d prefer. Difficulty comes, more commonly, in the form of unreasonable specifications. Having to beat all opponents at one time can be infuriating. I have to get everyone close enough together to use one special move on them, while all of their health is low enough, somehow accounting for their movements, without knocking them into each other and splitting the group, and beating one of them on their own causes them to respawn with full health? That’s about as fun as retrieving the Sacred Crown from Mount Rumble.
 

If each battle was against a notable Dragon Ball character it might lessen the pain, but most throw results of the game’s character creator at you. It’s a nice idea to flesh out encounters with these fighters that combine aspects of Toriyama’s designs in fun ways, but when each fight drags to such a tremendous bore, it isn’t at all fun. Progressing through the game means bursting through barriers, costing energy of varying colours. Said energy is collected by beating roaming foes of the corresponding colour. Sticking to the relevant and significant battles is not an option. Grinding is not only necessary but accounts for the vast majority of playtime.

Fusions, of course, play a sizable role in DBF. Ultra Fusion allows your whole squad to combine for a limited onslaught of attacks. Seeing your team combine is nothing to get excited about, though. Rather than mixing your fighters in any noticeable way, the game throws out a limited handful of designs that seem to only correlate to the races of the team in question. The same team will fuse into a random warrior of the possible few – not even the same one every time. Fusing five iconic characters could give you the same result as five default fighters. There are new two-person fusions too, though, and some of these are really fun ideas. Putting Cell and Frieza or Tapion and Future Trunks together is super cool, and having Bulla and Pan combine is neat while joining characters like Arale and Android 18 is a bit of a waste of time.
 

The custom-built player character and their rival kick the story off with a wish to the Eternal Dragon; for a martial arts tournament gathering all of the greatest warriors ever to exist. Of course, these fighters aren’t just pulled from any point in history, but from multiple realities. The thinly veiled excuse to create an opportunity to interact with characters from the disconnected forks of Dragon Ball continuity is forgivable as a means to an end, but the way in which it’s executed is consistently troublesome.

The localisation of Dragon Ball Fusions is atrocious. The lack of English voicing is a bummer, but totally forgivable for a game of DBF’s modest stature. The translations of the written dialogue, however, are a mess. For starters, text is squeezed into the same sized box as the original Japanese release. What results can be multiple sentences squeezed so tightly into a space that they’re hardly readable. The content of the writing is equally disappointing. Having a young Goku say “Wazzup” or “don’t worry about it, man” is hard to digest. There are a great deal of well-established characters involved, and none feel reasonably reflected here. Even when it comes close, Fusions’ sloppy translations stumble the big personalities that are cohesively defined elsewhere. Why does Master Roshi keep calling girls “sizzlers”? Can he stop?
 

 

Dragon Ball Fusions is a clever idea executed messily. The sloppy localisation keeps the characters or scenarios from being as fun as they ought to be, while the monotonous structure means things get boring before they get fun. The premise of building a team of Dragon Ball heroes, levelling them up and teaching them special attacks is a great one, and the combat system would be the perfect platform if not for their extended duration. Dragon Ball Fusion, like many Dragon Ball titles, takes a half-step towards a great idea while bogging itself down in attempts to slow down the player rather than entertain them.

Lliam Ahearn

Lliam Ahearn

Staff Writer at GameCloud
Lliam has been playing video games since he was a small child and continues to like them a whole bunch. In the perpetual hunt for Platinum Trophies, he takes no rest, takes no prisoners, and also takes no performance enhancing drugs. He constantly finds himself thinking about and analysing the games he plays, and sometimes, he even turns those thoughts into words.
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  • Rodrigo Cáceres

    Hey, I suppose that my comment was marked as spam because I accidentally posted it twice, but I asked for spam verification and it hasn’t been changed, so I’ll copy past what I said:

    I have to say I disagree a lot with this review. While the text does have translation mistakes, it was never unreadable for me or anything close to it, and I’m playing on an original 3DS so that screen is the smallest option you can have to play this game since all the other models have a bigger screen. The story and writing is definitely directed to fans, so there will be a lot of references that people that don’t know anything abut DB will miss, but the light humour will be pleasant and fun for most people. The story is nowhere exceptional, but it does it’s job.

    Graphics weren’t mentioned but personally I think the game looks gorgeous, with merged scenarios that will be easily recognized for fans and enjoyed afor people that don’y have knowledge about DB. The techniques look great and are really diverse, however the game does have a slow start so you won’t see most of them in the first hours, hence, why it feels so repetitive at first.

    The battles are indeed a bit slow, specially because of these animations, however, isn’t that the point of dragon ball? I mean, the series is about guys using martial arts and different powers against the forces of evil for really, really long battles. What makes you enjoy the series is how badass everything looks in the combat and this game does that right, even better at some aspects than other DB console games. Besides, this review makes it sound ike you will be having one hour long battles against normal enemies, which isn’t the case. Most normal enemy battles can be avoided and when you are close to their levels they will last about 10 minutes, and once you have higher levels they will end up during about 3 or less. Hell, you even end up missing the opportunities to display all your power later in the game so you’l enjoy the longer, harder battles that you get.
    Most main character fusions are a bit underwhelming in terms of appearance, however official characters get amazing unknown fusions and their variety in terms of stats, powers, passive abilities and design is great, specially for online, which I’ll mention later. Fusing characters requires certain objectives met, like reaching a specific level and that’s the definitely a bad decision, however, most objectives are easily met. That being said, the game would be better without them. Each character has specific partners for fusions, but the main character can fuse with everyone. However, the streetpass function let’s you fuse original characters that can’t fuse under normal circunstances and the results are hilarious, powerful and even sometimes, badass
    The games’ soundtrack is nice, but it gets a bit repetitive. A few more tunes would be appreciated. Voice acting is quite faithful,s pecially since it’s the japanese version. Personally, I missed the english voice acting.

    As I mentioned the game can be a bit repetitive, specially at the start, but the battle system is so fun that once you make your ideal teams you’ll be having a blast. Of course the reviewer is allowed to have his opinion, but it’s a bit hard for me to understand how someone that enjoys the Legacy of Goku games which have a really repetitive formula and a shallow combat that isn’t nowhere close the variety of this one feels so negative about the game on this regard. To each his own I guess.

    Now, the online aspect, which wasn’t evaluated or even mentioned, which baffles me. This is where you’ll see creative strategies and all of the game’s potential to use every tool the game has given you. First of all, you can’t have a team of the highest rank characters since you have a cost limit in order to balance teams. This gives way more variety to online battles since you will be seing many different characters. of course there will always be the popular ones that are more frequent than the others, but in my experience I have found less variety on pokemon on this regard than on this game. The game needs to balance some moves, there are definitely overpowered stat boosts and attacks that make defensive teams be at disadvantage. In just a few words, the online aspect is really fun, but it needs balance in order to give a fair experience to every player. I haven’t found any issues in terms of functionality, and when someone disconnects the other player gets the victory so salt is punished properly.

    I suggest that if you aren’t convinced about the game,check gameplays and opinions from people that bought the game, since personally, I think reviewers tend to be severe with DB games. With all the issues it has, it’s still a solid 8.5 for me because it’ a really fun game with a lovely presentation and a combat complex enough to have an active online community despite being small, and I’m not even that much of a dragon ball fan. For people that don’t like or don’t know the franchise but are somehow intrigued by the game, it’ still a fun, unique rpg experience in terms of gameplay. Storywise, there are a lot of better options.

    • TiberusX87

      Hi Rodrigo,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on DB Fusions.

      It’s great to know there are passionate Dragon Ball fans out there who are enjoying these games!

      I’ll make sure the reviewer is notified of your re-posted comment.

      • Rodrigo Cáceres

        @TiberusX87 Thank you for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it.