No ordinary human could ever perform the kinds of tremendously devastating and destructive attacks that the characters of the Dragon Ball Z universe regularly pull off. But even for Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, and the rest of the gang, such abilities take dedication, training, and a great deal of energy and effort. In Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi, however, sending opponents flying through the air with a kick is as easy as pushing a button, and firing off a kamehameha takes only a press of the right thumbstick. In fact, combat requires so little effort on your part that, despite the explosive display of power and fighting skill happening onscreen, it's hard to feel invested in what's taking place. Ultimate Tenkaichi is all spectacle and no substance.
6342855NoneCombat in Ultimate Tenkaichi is as boring as it is flashy.
Battles in this fighting game pit characters against each other in three-dimensional environments. When close to your opponent, you can dish out a flurry of melee attacks by tapping a button repeatedly, or press another button for a slower, more powerful attack. If you land a string of attacks, the action stops for what is called an attack clash. At this point, you and your opponent select one of two options; if you each choose different options, you win the clash, dealing damage and potentially sending your foe soaring through the air, giving you the opportunity to keep a chain of attacks going. If the defender chooses the same option that you do, he or she breaks your combo and performs a counterattack. There's no sense of timing or skill involved in unleashing the chain of attacks that triggers the clash; the stops the clashes bring about interrupt the flow of battle; and the continued success or failure of your attacks comes down to a 50-50 chance rather than to any actual prowess or technique on your part. It's a shallow and uninvolving melee combat system, and one in which the sight and sound of combatants being knocked hundreds of feet through the air is so commonplace, it quickly becomes tiresome.
If you have sufficient ki (energy that you can charge up by pressing down on the D-pad), you can perform a breakaway attack, which again presents you with two options that result in either dealing damage or taking damage. After the breakaway, you're at a greater distance from your foe. From here, you can fly in all directions and can fire ki blasts, but combat at this range plays out almost identically to melee combat. Landing a string of ki blasts triggers an attack clash, and once again, both you and the recipient of your blows choose from two options that determine how things play out.
Performing the dramatic signature moves of these characters is even less exciting than everything else about the combat. When one combatant's health is running low, the fighters gain access to their spirit gauges. At this point, firing off a galick gun, a spirit bomb, or any other super attack is done with a press of the right thumbstick. The visuals that accompany these attacks are appropriately intense--waves of energy tear up the earth, and massive explosions are viewed from orbit--but the simplicity with which they're performed makes them unsatisfying and anticlimactic. If you're on the receiving end of such an attack and you have enough ki stored up, you have a few options. You can guard, which automatically reduces the amount of damage you take. You can evade, which requires that you pull off a sequence of timed button presses; if you succeed, the attack does no damage, but if you fail, it does more than it would otherwise. Finally, you can intercept the attack. This leads to a button-mashing contest, and if you win, your attacker takes damage from his or her own super attack. These options balance risk and reward nicely, which makes being the target of a super attack one of the few mildly engaging situations you might find yourself in while playing.