Game Info:

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden
Developed by: Arc System Works
Published by: Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Available on: 3DS
Genre: Fighting
Number of players: 1-2 (Local multiplayer only; each player requires the game)
ESRB Rating: Teen for cartoon violence
Price: $29.99
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Thank you Bandai Namco Games for sending us this game to review!

It always amazes me how long Dragon Ball Z has endured.  The quest of Goku and friends who save the world over and over, while training to become more and more powerful, is a story that never seems to get old.  Or at least the enthusiasm hasn't died out, even after all these years.  To put things in perspective, the first Butoden game, Dragon Ball Z: Super Butoden, was released for Super Famicom (the SNES in Japan) in 1993.  The last episode to air on TV was in 1996.  (Movies have been released since.)

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is a 2D fighting game where a party of up to three playable characters (or multiple assists in their place) does one on one battle against their opponents, while punching, kicking, or ki blasting them to their defeat.  If this sounds similar to other popular fighting games like Street Fighter, that's because it is.  However, as expected, there is plenty of the flair and whimsy that often accompanies Dragon Ball.

Each fight lasts only one round, and is typically fairly short.  There are only three attack buttons, a dash/dodge button, and two triggers, which are for special attacks and charging (think Kaio-ken).  Most basic attacks aren't too different between the characters, but speed, special attacks, and combo results are often different (though many button combo presses themselves are similar).  The ultimate combo for each character uses similar button presses, though the timing and results are different.  Despite this, fights are entertaining, even if they get a bit repetitive after a while.

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden

Strong Points: Lots of characters to choose from; writing is fun; fighting is fun
Weak Points: Fighting can get a bit repetitive; currently no online mode
Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence, in the form of beating up your opponents; word 'hell' used; 'ki' used to perform energy attacks; 'God' is used as a power level (and refers to other deities)

The real bulk of the game is the various story modes.  There is the Z Story mode, which follows Goku through the main points of the Dragon Ball Z plot, as well as some 'what if' stories which unlock later.  Most of the game time is actually in the Adventure mode.  This is an alternative future where all of the Z team's enemies return, and you have to deal with them all again, as well as other threats. Each level also has an optional goal to achieve.  If you earn enough points in the fight and complete the objective, you can unlock lots of new assist characters, as well as earn money that you can spend in the shop.  These both can help you be a bit stronger in battle.  Assist characters can perform a strong attack when summoned via touchscreen in battle or otherwise help you out when activated.

Between levels in Z Story, and upon selecting a mission in Adventure mode, there are story sequences where you get to see banter between various characters from the Dragon Ball Z universe.  Some of it is quite entertaining.  Of course Goku's wife never does appreciate him, despite saving the universe so many times, since he's really bad at getting and keeping a job.  And Goku keeps getting more and more powerful, because that's what Saiyans do.

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 84%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The core game isn't particularly long, as you can easily beat everything in under ten hours.  The length comes in for completionists who wish to unlock all of the assists, character bios, and more.  There is also a local two player battle mode, though currently no online mode.  Bandai Namco announced online DLC for Japan; let's hope it comes here, as every player requires their own cartridge to play against each other.  Suffice it to say I have not tested multiplayer.

For a fighting game, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is fairly family friendly. Obviously there is cartoon violence, though no gore.  Language is relatively mild, as I only noted 'hell' being used.  'Ki' is present as an energy form, and 'God' is a power level (and can also refer to deities).  Goku can gain the 'Super Saiyan God' power level, and one enemy is the 'God of destruction'.  Despite this, I believe the ESRB rating of Teen is appropriate.

Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is a simple and fun time waster that can easily be played in very short spurts.  For hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans, there is a lot to like, and a new story written by the series creator.  There are also lots of opportunities to collect assist characters, if you so desire.  The music is enjoyable, with lots of hair-band style hard rock to listen to.  The game is somewhat simple, but fun.  If you are a hardcore Dragon Ball Z fan, and really enjoy fighting games, this is a very good choice.  For just fighting game fans, it's a bit harder to recommend, though still solid.  If you don't like fighting games, I doubt this game will make you enjoy them.  It is safe for most audiences, as long as the existence of other human-like gods is not offensive to you.


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Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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