A crappy movie followed by an equally crappy fighting game.
In case you weren't paying attention, Fox's live-action movie based on the popular Dragon Ball Z anime franchise debuted this weekend. To no one's surprise, it tanked, making just under five million bucks. (Wolverine's midnight showings alone will eclipse that come May 1st.) However, we're shocked that Namco Bandai would jump at the chance to release a fighting game based on the film, and a pathetic one at that.
Dragon Ball: Evolution features characters from the film, including a badly miscast Goku (he looks more like a kid at an anime convention) and his mentor, Hawaiian shirt-wearing Master Roshi (played by, of all people, Chow Yun Fat). They're out to stop the evil Piccolo from retrieving the Dragon Balls that grant their wielder immense powers. We'd believe the story more if A.) it wasn't so terribly written and B.) it didn't have a dude who resembles a bad-looking Martian as the bad guy.
First off, the fighting lacks complexity. Want to know how to win a battle? Mash the buttons like crazy. You'll chain together combos so quickly that you'll feel like a kung fu master in seconds. There are no worthwhile characters, and each of the game's 11 brawlers have unimpressive looking techniques.
Don't look for any effort in the presentation department either. The graphics are low budget at best. There are only so many backdrops (one for each character), and they lack detail. For instance, Master Roshi fights on a tropical island with very little attention paid to it. Worse yet, the story sequences were cheaply put together. Instead of featuring movie clips, you have static images of characters with all text and no emotion. Don't bother listening for any good music or sound effects either, as there are none.
Dragon Ball: Evolution does offer a four-player fighting mode, but only if you can find three saps to pick up the game and play along with you. We can't recommend that level of pain on one person, let alone four. For those who actually liked the movie (the two kids who thought Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was the greatest film of all time, perhaps), there are unlockable sketches and storyboards, but they're not worth the effort. No additional characters, backdrops and worst of all, no anime goodies. You're stuck with the awfulness from the movie and nothing more.
In all, Dragon Ball: Evolution offers zero redemption for its hefty $40 price tag. Stick with the anime and forget this thing even exists.
What's Hot: Unlockable storyboards and sketches for fans of the film, Chow Yun Fat in a Hawaiian shirt is mildly amusing.
What's Not: Static images instead of film clips (not that we want them anyway), lifeless button-mashing gameplay, below-average graphics and sound, useless multiplayer.