Since there's probably some confusion about why a Dragon Ball Z game for the PlayStation is being released in this day and age, here's a little history lesson. Back in 1995, before DBZ had really taken hold in the US, Bandai, the then-holder of the Dragon Ball Z license, released its first PlayStation Dragon Ball Z game, Ultimate Battle 22. Eight years later, well after the PlayStation has settled into quiet obsolescence, Infogrames has decided to make a quick buck off its Dragon Ball Z license by releasing Ultimate Battle 22 for the first time in the US. Even by the significantly more lenient 1995 standards, the game did not look or play particularly well, and to put it mildly, it has not aged well.
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 is a really, really terrible game.
If you're unfamiliar with Dragon Ball Z, you're excused from reading this review and should just know to avoid Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 at all costs. DBZ fans should know that the game features 22 fighters from the Frieza saga through the Buu saga. Unlike the remarkable-by-comparison Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, Ultimate Battle 22 follows no particular storyline. None of the Bandai-era Dragon Ball Z games were very good games, but Ultimate Battle 22 is especially slow and clunky. The AI isn't terribly resourceful, and if you can get them pinned in the corner, some solid mashing of the punch and kick buttons all but ensure your victory. You could conceivably play Ultimate Battle 22 with two players, but considering the wealth of superior fighting games already available for the PlayStation, why would you? Even the still-awful Dragon Ball Final Bout is superior to Ultimate Battle 22 in almost every conceivable way.
DBZ fans should not buy, play, or even talk about this game.
The game's presentation is also phenomenally bad. The environments, which vaguely resemble classic Dragon Ball Z locations, are basically flat planes coated in dull, super-low-resolution textures, with maybe a building or a hill or something in the background. The fighters are all 2D sprites--pixelated, poorly animated sprites at that. The fighters were actually just lifted from one of Bandai's old Dragon Ball Z fighting games for the SNES and slapped into a primitive polygonal background, which means that these sprites are potentially older than the people who will play Ultimate Battle 22. The sound is equally lousy, and because Infogrames didn't bother to replace the Japanese voice acting, it will sound really bizarre to fans of the US Dragon Ball Z.
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 is a really, really terrible game, and it always has been. In fact, it's so bad that a longer review would only give the game more validation, which it simply does not deserve. To its credit, Infogrames knows its audience, and Ultimate Battle 22 will likely turn a tidy little profit, just because it carries the Dragon Ball Z name. However, DBZ fans should not buy, play, or even talk about this game, and Infogrames should be ashamed of itself for such a blatant attempt at cashing in on a popular license.