Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero Hands-on Preview

In a nutshell:

  • 15 Years has passed since the last Dragon Ball Budokai, now we’re graced with Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero!
  • Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero‘s demo showed off Episode Battle, which allowed us to experience the original story or explore alternative scenarios.
  • We tried out 25-minutes of Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero‘s Battle Mode as well

There is no denying that Akira Toriyama’s legacy is growing strong with the continued slew of launches from the beloved properties he has created over the years. Sand Land launched earlier this year, and in the Fall, a follow-up from the beloved fighting game franchise makes its return after 15 years with Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero!

Over at Summer Game Fest, we had the opportunity to sit down with the team from Bandai Namco, who spoke to us about Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero while playing the game to show us the brand-new story mode, and allowed us to try Battle Mode for a good half-hour to give us a taste of what’s to come.

What If… Goku defeated Raditz on the first try?

It’s been 15 years since the last Dragon Ball Budokai Tenkaichi game, and Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero is the first in a long while for the series to once again grace our video game platform of choice.

The control scheme will feature the latest trend of having both classic and modern control types, which allows players to tackle Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero at the control scheme they feel more comfortable with. Veterans who are used with the series’ control scheme can dust off their Budokai shoes and get back on the saddle without any issues. Newcomers such as myself can adapt with the easy control scheme and get right into the action.

During the hands-off session, we witnessed the Episode Battle, where we watched two interlinked episodes of the iconic Goku vs Raditz story as seen in the original Dragon Ball Z series. Whether or not you’re familiar with the story, you have the agency to choose whether you wish to follow the canon event or explore the possibility of a non-canon storyline.

Dragon Ball Sparking Zero Episode

For example, Piccolo will lend a hand to fight Raditz, and you may choose to allow him to join (canon) or go at it alone (non-canon). You can also defeat Raditz by the time limit (non-canon) or miss the time limit to defeat him (canon). Whatever your choice, it unlocks a story path that you wish to explore, which feels like an interesting concept that gives players a choice, unlike previous games like Dragon Ball Z Kakarot.

In the playthrough, we followed the canon story, which treated us to perspectives that we did not witness in the source material. It would’ve been interesting to witness more events unfold, but alas the demo ended, and we moved on to a custom Battle mode, which allowed us 25-minutes to use Vegeta as a punching bag or get destroyed by him.

Some features that were mentioned were character/story editors where you can sub out different characters to embody a particular hero/villain in that episode. In this demo, they suggested substituting Raditz for Mr. Satan, prompting some potential hilarious results. We can imagine now what crazy combinations players will be editing and sharing on their social media platforms.

Dragon Ball Sparking Zero Budokai Tenkaichi

We were able to select between 30-40 of the 160 proposed characters during the Battle Mode. This included iconic heroes such as Son Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks as well as formidable foes such as Frieza, Majin Bu, and Brolly. They not only include their base versions, but also their transformed versions. By selecting transformed versions of certain characters, you’re unable to select another version.

You can select up to three characters in this demo, but in the final version, you can select up to five characters. By toggling the settings to increase or reduce difficulty, you may be able to control many of the characters due to the round robin style fight. You can also tag in any character to try them out at any time.

Dragon Ball Sparking Zero Fight

As mentioned earlier, we’re only able to fight against Vegeta for the next 25-minutes. If beating the stuffing out of Vegeta is what floats your boat, more power to you, but after a few rounds, I wanted to try out other enemies. The good news is that we were able to focus on the gameplay and combat styles.

If you have played Budokai before, it is pretty much the same combat and gameplay. The different maps you can select allow for diversity in battle grounds, allowing you different arenas where to fight. In this regard, we were able to beat Trunks in Capsule City, destroyed Capsule City, Arena, and other areas that are available to select.

You’re able to move freely in this battlefield to defeat your opponent. If you hit them hard enough, you can instantly transmit yourself within the opponent’s melee range and continue to press the attack. Your opponent, depending on difficulty level can counter and punish you for your eagerness, or fail to do so and continue to accept their punishment.

Dragon Ball Sparking Zero Faceoff

You can also build up your ki bar in order to unleash skills and devastating attacks as your ki grows in power. Using some of these attacks such as interrupt skills use up your ki bar. Power them up to a high enough level and you can unleash some power attacks that can deal some devastating damage. Power them beyond 9,000 and you can unleash an Ultimate move that can obliterate or even one-shot an enemy if they don’t have enough HP bars to soak the attack.

The move sets allow you to unleash some iconic attacks such as the Kameha-meha wave and the Spirit Ball. If you use Trunks, you’re able to unleash Gallick Gun for some quick damage. These moves may be a massive projectile or a barrage of melee attacks. When these hits connect, they deal a lot of punishment. On the contrary, they can also be dodged or countered.

Dragon Ball Sparking Zero Splitscreen

We were not able to experience multiplayer battles where we could’ve challenged a staff member or another audience member to spar. It would’ve been great to test out the split-screen feature that’s included in the final version of Dragon Ball Sparking Zero. That way, we could’ve dodged or connected another player’s kameha-meha wave. Or they could’ve just embarrassed me, but that’s fine too.

Dragon Ball Sparking Zero does not need to set itself apart from Budokai. Why fix what ain’t broke? Veterans and newcomers alike will enjoy the experience, and even more so as a Dragon Ball fan. We’ve only scratched the surface with this brief demo, and we can’t wait to see and play more of it when it launches later this year.

Dragon Ball Sparking Zero launches on October 11, 2024 on the PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Our Summer Game Fest 2024 coverage is powered by Lenovo Philippines and Lenovo Legion.

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