Fighting games received a lot of attention at Namco-Bandai’s recent Global Gamers’ Day. There was the SoulCalibur V tournament, the demonstration of Tekken Tag Tournament 2… and a fighting game from a different perspective: Dragon Ball Z for Kinect.
“Here’s an opportunity to really let players become these characters and actually experience the world for the first time in first person,” Namco-Bandai’s Jason Enos told us during our demo. “That’s one of the big things that the fans can look forward to.”
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect (that’s the literal title) lets players select one of 50 Dragon Ball characters and get into the elaborate, over-charged battles the anime is known for. Down to striking the poses.
“Charging up, you have to go into the pose, just like in the series,” said Enos. “Punching, kicking, guarding, some of the [moves] are very intuitive to what you’d expect. Kamehameha is exactly what you’d expect. There’s some moves where after you’ve charged up, you squat down and leap off the ground.”
Fighting games are known for their precise timing, making Dragon Ball Z for Kinect sound like a risky proposition. However, Enos says the game was built with this in mind.
“Of the different motion-sensing platforms out there, Kinect is the one that can track the users’ movements much more accurately,” he said. “The way we built the game is that you’ve got two ranges of combat: close melee range and far blast range. You’ll see during battles that your opponent (or even yourself) will go between these two different [ranges]. That I think gives you enough leeway and ability to compensate for any responsiveness issues. Although many true, traditional fighting games are very in-the-heat-of-the-moment, crazy, crazy battles, this game is not really set up where timing is so critical.”
A 50 character roster is pretty big, and N-B hasn’t revealed all of the characters yet. Enos said he was a fan of fighting with Krillin, and speculated “I think we even have a new character that hasn’t appeared before.”
With lots of characters comes lots of moves. In addition to Kamehameha, Dragon Ball fans will use the Spirit Bomb, Final Flash and more.
“Each character in the Dragon Ball Z universe is known for its specific moves and different attacks,” said Enos. “We have over 100 different authentic moves recreated using the Kinect and your real body. It could be something as simple as your melee attacks: punching, kicking, guarding, charging your ki… Swinging, leaning left, leaning right… and combos. Some moves you have to hold position and then punch.”
The game allows you to fight offensively and defensively, blocking and even countering attacks.
“Usually when an enemy is coming at you you’ll see two different moves pop up on the screen,” explained Enos, “one which you should do, and one that you shouldn’t. As long as you are able to execute that in time, you’ll counter that attack or maybe not take as much damage.”
The game has two modes: Story and Score Attack, where you fight opponents in 1-on-1 battles in an attempt to get the highest score. Right now Namco-Bandai lists the Dragon Ball as a single player game, although Enos said they “might have some announcements later on.”
Another interesting feature of Dragon Ball Kinect is one of the ways that it handles unlockables.
“We have QR codes that are made for the game,” said Enos. “Each one a different pattern associated with new characters and power-ups. The Kinect sensor recognizes the pattern and unlocks the content instantly.” Enos said they couldn’t reveal exactly how N-B will get the cards to players, but he hinted at things like pre-ordering bonuses and other promotions. N-B says that there will be over 20 cards.
We tried out Dragon Ball for Kinect, and it is lots of fun to do Hulk Hogan-like posedowns in order to charge up attacks, then lean back like you’re going to launch an invisible fireball. Like many Kinect games, you’ll easily work up a sweat once you get going.
“In any fighting game, characters are what make the game great,” said Enos. “Not only will you get to live out the persona of these characters, you’ll also get a lot of great exercise in the process.”
Dragon Ball Z for Kinect will be released October 2012.