You know what they say: Another year, another new fighting game set in the Dragon Ball Z universe. Unfortunately, there's very little about Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team that's actually new. The introduction of team battles may appeal to those who can round up some friends to play with, but it isn't enough to keep this familiar fighting system from feeling stale, and the story mode recycles the same tired material that's been used for game after game in the series. Avid Dragon Ball Z fans who are eager to take Goku, Vegeta, and the rest of the gang on the go may appreciate the fact that this is the first entry in the Budokai Tenkaichi series to come to the PSP, but most others won't find much to get excited about here.
6283110None Always bet on blue.
As in prior Budokai Tenkaichi games, Tenkaichi Tag Team's battles give you a behind-the-back perspective on your fighter and let you dash and soar in all directions around a three-dimensional arena, which is liberating. An automatic lock-on feature makes navigation easy; you press up or down on the thumbstick to fly straight toward or away from your currently targeted enemy, and you can circle around him or her by pressing left or right. Flying up or down independent of your target's position is done with the D pad. The warriors of Dragon Ball Z routinely hit their opponents with enough force to send them soaring back hundreds of feet, and wielding that kind of power is intoxicating for a little while. But the shallowness and repetition of the combat soon becomes clear, and the initial excitement wears off quickly.
At first glance, you might think there's a good amount of depth to the fighting system. The training section you can access from the main menu has dozens of entries about full-power smashes, vanishing attacks, ultimate supers, chain burst mode, and all sorts of other things. Unfortunately, all you get in this section are little blurbs of text about each item. Without the opportunity to see these things in action to get some context for what they mean, it's difficult to make sense of statements like, "When you receive a Rush immediately after entering a Discernment stance, you will automatically counter with a Snap Instant Transport Attack and a Body Strike thereafter." A hands-on tutorial mode that guided you through these actions step-by-step would have made it all seem a lot less mystifying.
But once you decide to jump into battle, it quickly becomes apparent that you don't actually need to spend much time worrying about snap instant transport attacks, anyway. You can perform close-up melee attacks or fire off long-distance ki blasts, reflect your opponents' offensives with a well-timed tap of the block button, and dash around the environment in the blink of an eye. Holding the L button charges up your ki, and flashy and devastating super attacks like Goku's kamehameha and Vegeta's galick gun, which consume ki, are all done with simple button inputs. This accessibility makes it easy for anyone to jump into battle as his or her favorite Dragon Ball Z characters and immediately start dishing out heaps of punishment. (AI-controlled opponents do their part by putting up little resistance and giving you plenty of opportunities to hit them with everything you've got.) But it also means that one battle feels very much like another, and the action quickly loses its appeal. Because there's little difference in how the characters handle, the 70-character roster also doesn't lend the game much variety or replay value.
This fighting system is almost as tired as references to "It's over 9000!"