Even though Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors is the second DBZ-inspired fighting game to land on the GBA, it's extremely important to bear in mind that it isn't in any way, shape, or form a follow-up to Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu--a terrible game that is honestly better left forgotten than discussed in polite company. DBZ: Supersonic Warriors is actually quite a good 2D tournament fighting game that successfully copies the look and feel of the battles from the cartoon show. Anyone looking for the next Street Fighter probably ought to look elsewhere, but Dragon Ball fans (even casual watchers) will be more than delighted.
Relive the epic battles from the TV show, such as Goku versus Cell.
The character lineup includes 13 playable fighters. Most are obvious choices, like Goku, Gohan, Frieza, and Trunks, but there are a few surprises too, such as Dr. Gero, Majin Buu, and Gotenks. Roughly half of the characters are available in their super and Saiyan forms as well. There are six modes in all. The story, z-battle, and challenge modes pit you against a set number of characters (or teams), and the free battle, training, and link versus modes are set up exactly as you'd expect them to be. The artificial intelligence puts up a decent fight in the single-player modes, and the link versus mode adds a bit more replay value by letting you take on human opponents via a GBA link cable. Every time you win a match in the story, z-battle, or challenge modes, you earn some points. These points can be spent later on in the options menu to unlock bonus features, such as those extra character forms and additional story mode scenarios.
The combat system involves some button mashing, but it's handled in a controlled way. The A and B buttons are used to perform strong and weak attacks. They're also used for blocking. There's a short window of opportunity to block right after an attack is made. Otherwise, pushing one of the buttons will make your character perform an attack. While that kind of setup may sound strange at first, it actually keeps players on their toes and cuts down on turtling (constant blocking). Each character has different attacks depending on whether the character is on the ground, in midair, next to, or directly above or below an opponent. That's right--you're not limited to fighting on the ground. Unlike in traditional 2D beat-'em-ups, tapping up lets the DBZ fighters hover in midair. Using the directional pad, you can pretty much fly anywhere you want. Attacks can also be chained together into combinations, and throws can be performed as well.
Fights in the story mode are usually one-on-one, but the other modes let you put together a team of up to three different characters. The team aspect works much like it does in Capcom's tag-fighting games. The number of characters you get to pick is based on the combined strength rating of the characters. The limit is four. So, if you choose a character with a strength rating of three, the other character has to be rated a one. If you pick a character with a strength rating of two, you can choose another two or fill out the team with a pair of ones. When you're playing a team-based mode, you can switch characters on the fly by tapping the L button. This lets you take out a character that's low on stamina, but it also lets you avoid certain attacks thanks to the moment of time that elapses between when one character disappears and when the other appears. Swiping ideas from Capcom is rarely a bad idea--the team setup works great.