Nine months after release on competing platforms, Dragon Ball FighterZ has finally made its way to Switch. Back in January, when our sister site Push Square reviewed the original release, they gave it a glowing 9/10 score, and for good reason. Even by PlayStation 4 standards, FighterZ is breathtaking. So, how does one of 2018's standout titles fare on Nintendo's portable? Exceedingly well, it turns out.
The Switch version of FighterZ is simply stunning; in motion, it's truly a sight to behold. Arc System Works has done an amazing job bringing the anime to life, and if you didn't look at the PS4 version side-by-side with the Switch version, you'd likely have a difficult time finding the trade-offs made to make such an impressive-looking game run on hardware that is significantly less powerful.
All of the cinematic ultimate moves such as Gohan's one-handed Kamehameha from the Cell saga, or Buu's, "You know what... I hate you!" move have been recreated on the Switch with all of their screen-filling effects in place. Similarly impressive are the match-ending Destructive Finishes, which show cities or landscapes being destroyed, sometimes even from space. Sending an opponent flying into a nearby mountain to see it crumble from the force of their impact is immensely satisfying and looks stunning to boot. Finishing opponents with a heavy attack in certain stages will cause the fight to move to a completely different locale as well, which the Switch version manages without skipping a beat.
What's more impressive is that we couldn't detect even a hint of slowdown, even when multiple massive attacks were being fired off at once. It truly appears that no corners were cut in the making of this unbelievable port. The work done to fit this game on the Switch may not seem as impossible as what Panic Button has done with DOOM and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, but it's still an impressive showcase of what the Switch is capable of nonetheless.
Of course, FighterZ's beauty is more than skin-deep. Under all that polish is an incredibly competent fighting game, capable of dethroning Capcom's long-running Marvel Vs. Capcom series. In fact, FighterZ was the most popular title at EVO 2018, the largest fighting game tournament in the world, according to a tweet from the tournament head.
The comparison to the Marvel Vs. Capcom series is useful for more than the game's popularity as well, as FighterZ plays similarly to Capcom's now-maligned crossover game. In it, each player builds a roster of three Z-fighters from a roster of 24 characters (30 if you purchase the six DLC characters separately.) During fights, you can freely switch between your characters or call them in for a quick assist. Combos are relatively simple and mashing either the X or Y buttons will give you a full combo, but those that master the system and switch between high and low attacks and make use of their friends to tag in at opportune moments can perform high-flying stunts that will endlessly juggle their opponents. The result is a combo system that is surprisingly easy to get started with but offers enough scope to make it hard to fully master. It feels great in practice and is welcoming to both seasoned fighters and novices alike; there are few fighting games that can say the same thing about.
Fights are also littered with awesome fanservice moments, provided you know Dragon Ball's lore well and can recreate moments from the series. For instance, if Goku and Frieza face off on Namek and Krillin isn't in either team, the match will open with the evil emperor killing Krillin in front of Goku, causing him to become a Super Saiyan for the first time. It's cool things like this that show just how much the team at Arc System Works care for Dragon Ball, which is a great thing as the series enjoys one of the most fervent fan bases anywhere.
There's more to FighterZ than just mindlessly brawling, however. Included is a story mode which includes three arcs focusing on the Z warriors, the series' villains, and a newly introduced character, Android 21. The story is delivered through cutscenes interspersed between fights and can last quite a bit of time, well over 12 hours by our estimation, assuming you take on and complete all the side fights on offer. The cutscenes that deliver the narrative are gorgeous but run at a much lower framerate than that of the actual game. While you might think this is a technical issue, the issue exists on other platforms; we assume it's an attempt by the developer to replicate the often-stuttery animation seen in the original anime.
We found the narrative itself to be interesting, but the story modes feel like a bit of a grind as the fights aren't all that difficult, but you're often forced to get through five or six of them to get another bit of the story and move on to another map. About halfway through each arc we found ourselves just mindlessly beating opponents to get to the next map, no longer caring about completing everything. You have to do this to unlock Android 21 however, which is a mechanic that feels a bit antiquated in the face of online play becoming increasingly important.
Aside from story mode, there's also Arcade mode, which gives you the standard progression-based experience fighting game fans are used to, in that opponents become gradually more difficult as you climb the ladder to your final fight. There's no narrative to speak of in this mode, but you can unlock Super Saiyan Blue (still called SSGSS in this game) Goku and Vegeta by completing certain conditions. Again, we're not sure how we feel about characters being locked in fighting games in 2018, but there you have it. Arcade mode is a fun way to test your skills, offering several different difficulty tiers that'll provide a challenge to most.
To navigate all these modes, you get dropped into a lobby where you'll select a chibi version of one of the game's many characters to run around and interact with other players. Even if you're playing the game offline, you'll still be in a version of this lobby. We like it, but we would've preferred a menu-based approach when playing offline. Playing any mode earns you Zeni which can be used to purchase new lobby characters. As with most online Switch titles, there's no voice chat here, so you're forced to communicate using stamps and preset phrases. Each of the game's stamps features a character from the Dragon Ball universe, along with a phrase. These phrases can be used independently of the stamps, but in our experience, there was no need to really use these as most players are going to queue up for one match type or another.
Online play was fairly painless as well. Once paired up with an opponent for a match, we found very few issues with lag, and when we did it was easy to attribute the issue to a spotty WiFi connection. During online matches, you'll see a display at the top of the screen telling you how bad the frame delay is between you and your opponent. For us, anything under a five frame delay seemed to be quite manageable, though obviously, your mileage may vary.
Bandai Namco has made much of the game's potential for local play too, even showing off footage of a single Joy-Con per player being used. It's perfectly possible to enjoy the game in this way, but the lack of buttons on the controller means that certain commands become button combinations (Dragon Rush becomes Light Attack + Media Attack, for example, while normally this would be mapped to the R button). Even so, being able to face off against a human opponent whenever the mood takes you is a real bonus.
Dragon Ball FighterZ on the Switch is, simply put, the best fighting game we've seen on the system yet. Arc System Works went the extra mile in capturing the essence of the source material and distilled it into an incredible brawler that has lost nothing in the transition to Nintendo's hybrid console. The stunning visuals, intense action and easy-to-master controls make FighterZ a game all fans of the genre should have in their library. If you only play this kind of game casually, it remains a must-own.
All these puns, you're Krillin me.
Right, so where do I go for the A-Z of Dragon Ball lore before I get this?
Be the first dragon ball game I buy. Used to watch it as a kid so half know the characters.
This truly is a sight to behold ., Dragon Ball Fighter Z is incredible to see in motion and even more incredible to play.
I have not played a DBZ game since Badokai Tenkaichi 3 on the Wii. That game had a stunning roster of 161 characters, though granted most of which where different renditions of other characters (eat your heart out Melee). I might grab this when I'm done beating the crap out of Mega Man 11 and Doom.
Why the ambiguity with character unlocks? I personally think it's awesome kinda gives the game a little more legs. But to each their own.
I want to get this so much, but with Megaman 11,Dark Souls and Assassin's Creed Odyssey on my wish list, the full price is tough to swallow.
It's an amazing game and a great port. There definitely is a few odd drops in performance but it's very rare.
@gcunit There are a few places to go, you can either find the animé online in various places for free, or for high quality you can find it on Crunchy Roll.. also a few places also have the full manga.
Just to suggest a particular YouTuber, Geekdom101 is one of the better DB & DBZ providers... or just ask me. I'm pretty nerdy on classic animé
Great game. The story cutscenes look like ass in handheld mode though. Unsure if that's due to compression or a sub-HD resolution though.
Best fighting game on the Switch. I know nothing about Dragonball in real life, but this game kicks ass.
Enjoying Story Mode so far but the fighting of the clones does kinda get old at times. I do enjoy how all the characters roast each other though which was the best part of Story Mode.
Too bad it's DragonBall Z
@gcunit I watched Dragon Ball Z after I played this, both experiences don't hurt each other. The cutscenes and dialogue of this story are a lot of fun though
Game seems to be right up my alley. Price isn't though ($80 regular version, $140 for the ultimate version... WTF???)
Once it'll get to a price I can manage, I'll get it. This one seems to be a sight to behold in action...
Anyone new to the series please start with the original Drgon Ball before moving on to Z.
Amazing game, and I'm in love. In regards to the lobby complaint: The game tells you multiple time to hit one of the left shoulder buttons to bring up a classic style menu. But yeah. Fantastic game. Love that's theres unlocks. I need 21. Back to story mode to get her.
How many gb is this game. I’m on 4g atm.
Hope it does well somewhere.
Would love OnePiece World Seeker on Switch. "Anime look" can be done well on Switch.
Sounds like a great game.
I love how easy the moves are to do. Looks great on handheld too btw.
Looks fantastic and I'm glad it's made a brilliant conversion to Switch, but it's a fairly hard sell at $60 when it can run on my laptop for half the price. Will probably wait for a sale.
No love for the franchise so this isn’t day one for me but I will buy it eventually.
@gcunit I’d start with watching Dragon Ball Kai it’s a trimmed down version of Z (which needed the trimming really) which has most of the Fighterz characters in. It’s slap bang in the middle of the continuity but it’s probably the best series to watch as an adult. The first series can get quite childish.
Alternately you could watch DBZ Abridged on YouTube. That’s a very trimmed down, comedic but fairly faithful unofficial version of Z.
Picked this up this weekend, really enjoying it. I’m not great at fighting games but having a blast... even without an internet connection since I’ve recently moved.
Great they were able to port it over with minimal sacrifices, I think I'll still to my PS4 version though. I've already dropped $95, and I'm not even that big of a fighting game fan. But DBZ though.....
@gcunit Just read a synopsis of the Dragon Ball arcs on a Dragon Ball wiki I would recommend watching the show as I am a huge fan, but, a synopsis covers most details quite well.
Played the demo and have it on my PS4 and it looks fantastic on the Switch, but I don't like the controls. ArcSys was always hard to learn, but this is just another Buttonmasher.
For me it's really sad that all the fighting games today followed this step to make them casual.
"Best fighting game"?! Have you played ARMS?!
Regardless of if you like Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball FighterZ is an example of a well made fighting game with something for both competitive players (competitive multiplayer) and casuals (well produced story mode).
“FighterZ on the Switch is, simply put, the best fighting game we've seen on the system yet.”
I’ll give that proclamation 2 months and a week.
I'll play this wherever my big Razer fight stick goes, so skipping this one on Switch, but it's a crazy fun fighter for all you folks on the fence!
@Tulio517 I love ARMS, it's a great game, but there is indeed quite a bit more to DBFZ. ARMS is kind of unique....this is maybe better said as best "traditional" fighter. I.E. something ideal to use a fightstick for, and utilizing input sequences and combos, which ARMS doesn't really do, it does its own thing.
@LordVal The controls are simpler than BlazBlue and Tekken, but that's not to say mastering the controls is any less vital against opponents that have. Heck it's still more complicated than SFII.
@Skalgrim 6.2 GB
I'd say: Best Switch port to date.
Is it mostly games made by Nintendo that get 10/10 around here?
@NEStalgia it could be that she was lucky or gad bad opponents, but my girlfriend played DB Fighterz and the Street Fighter Collection online. She won 9/10 Matches on DB Fighterz and 0/10 in SF2. And she was just mashing the Buttons on my Hori Stick.
Bit of nonsensical criticism to call out locked characters as a negative point. The year we're in has nothing to do with that at ALL.
Locked characters gives a game longevity. It gives you something to strife for, something to achieve in hopes of completing the game. Everything already being selectable from the start really takes away from that.
It's always nice to have some surprise characters and/or stages/worlds hidden away until you reach a certain level or amount of XP.
Personally, it makes me want to play the game even more, that way.
But either way, I've always liked the Dragon Ball fighting games, and this seems to be the best one yet, so it's definitely on the must-buy list.
I'll admit I had forgotten about this until last week and now I'm kind of wanting to jump in. I got the Budokai game and played it for a couple of hours before jumping to something else but I think it's because it was in a 3D space, this looks more up my ally though I'm not a huge fighting game fan.
@NEStalgia as someone that loves fighting games (I have a few custom built sticks, Sega 2P8 & hitbox layouts) but absolutely sucks at them, what is your recommendation on this game? For me, I've pretty much only ever got into SF & MvC. SF I was actually decent at SFIV, MvC I was horrible at, I just loved the characters. Is this newb friendly? I don't mind it taking some time to learn systems, but with most fighting games, I feel like I need to sit down with practice mode for hours on end just to figure out basic combos, and I don't find that overly fun anymore.
I am definitely picking this up eventually. But considering I don't play these types of games enough to justify a full-price purchase, I'll be holding off for the moment.
@roadrunner343 It's definitely noob friendly. It's one of those neat games that can be as simple or as difficult as you want it to be. The controls are pretty fixed and straight forward. I mean it has quarter-circle combos, and it has a lot of combos that aren't documented on the surface, but none of them are necessary to enjoy the game unless you have an opponent that has mastered them. IIRC the devs said they set out to make a game that dialed back the deep control-heavy combo technicalities of Blaz/Guilty and focused more on the mind-games and "footsie". So I think a total noob coin-op "hey this looks fun!" could enjoy it at the low end, and at the high end it was main stage EVO 2018 with Smash Melee, Smash U, BlazBlue Crosstag, Tekken 7, and SFV.
It's become the MvC killer after Capcom wet their bed with Infinite. And yeah, I'm not super technical competitive at fighting games (BlazBlue is fun but the deep control technicalities gives me nightmares and I suck on a massive scale....I can hold my own with Tekken 7 and DoA5 though.
I think this is easier to get into than MvC...it does a lot of what MvC did with crosstagging but in a more refined way and a better rock-paper-scissors sequence (I still feel Arc can put together a better fighter than Capcom with SF being the exception.)
Conversely some hardcore fighters might find it a little too restrictive in terms of total moves/counters available if they're used to things like Tekken and the 100+ moves per character.
I won’t be ‘dragon’ my heels to get this!
@NEStalgia If only Arc systems would get the license for a Marvel vs game... I think I'll likely give this a shot on PC. I'd love to support Switch, but considering it is half price on PC and that's where my sticks are normally connected anyway, it just makes more sense. Hope this port does well though. Thanks for the feedback.
@ThanosReXXX Agreed. It's especially a weird criticism when Smash Ultimate will likely get praised for it's unlockable fighters, and it will have a TON of them.
Been playing it all weekend, great fun
This game is great I highly recommend 👍
@roadrunner343 Yeah, fighters are one of those things I have to go where the sticks are. The HORI on Switch is pretty decent, but it just doesn't compare to the Sanwa setups IMO. And I'm not even a hardcore fighting aficionado, but I've spent too many coins in the arcades over the years not to be able to tell the difference
If Smash Ultimate supports the HORI though, I'm all in!
@IceClimbers Exactly. And it'll probably get a 10/10 as well...
@NEStalgia I'm with you - I'm not hardcore into fighting games anymore, but you can tell the difference right away. I've had all my enclosures custom made (up to 4 now, sadly...) - my main 14" enclosure uses Sanwa JLF stick/Sanwa buttons, and I have 3 9.5" enclosues (1 for 4 way, 1 for 8 way, 1 hitbox) but they all use Seimitsu buttons. I play a lot of non-fighting arcade games, and like the slightly stiffer feel. As you said, you don't have to be much a fighting aficionado to feel the difference. Though, if I'm honest, I think I enjoy building/selling sticks more than I enjoy playing with them =P
@ThanosReXXX There's almost no chance this iteration of Smash doesn't get 10/10's from everyone. From what I've seen, likely deservedly so. I do fully agree with you though, unlockable characters is one of the main things that keeps me coming back to fighting games, so it is quite odd to list it as a con here.
@ThanosReXXX 100% agree with this. It pissed me off so much when all cups,characters and CC were unlocked in Mario kart. Should have kept it locked like the wii u version. As you stated it gives something to work toward and I always used to play Mario kart with the thought of excitement of what 4 tracks would be unveiled next upon completing a cup now it's all open to you from the start. BORING!!
This game deserves a 10.
@Tulio517 I have, and I love, love, love ARMS. I just feel that FighterZ is the better of the two.
@Kidfunkadelic83 I agree yet it makes me worry about the sanity of us gamers. Give us all the content now, boo, boring, this sucks! Give us the same content and don't let us access it until we dance for it....yay 11/10 best game ever!
Deserves a ten. One of the best Dragon Ball games in years, if not, THE BEST. And one of the best general fighting games in recent memory.
I haven't gotten into a fighting game in many years, but I have been glued to this. I regret nothing.
Anyone know if they fixed the terrible load times? Tried the Xbox version awhile back and the load times are what ruined it for me from picking it up.
@roadrunner343 Please, they need to stay away from Marvel. Disney is too much of a controlling partner to form a healthy relationship with. Capcom may be at fault for Marvel vs Capcom's downfall, but Disney is to blame due to them not letting the X-Men in the game, refusal to let the game be streamed at Evo(a major reason why the game did not show up at Evo) and other stuff.
I would rather see Arc Systems use the Dragon Ball Fighter Z formula for other anime franchises such as Naruto.
@LordVal I can go on seven game win streaks on Mortal Kombat X, can win numerous games in 1 on 1 Smash online playing as Ganondorf alone, and can win at other fighting games.
Street Fighter V? I get my butt kicked over and over again. I don't know what is it with Street Fighter, although I will say that SF is not user-friendly compared to other fighting games.
I CAN ONLY DOUBLE DIP SO MUCH, SO ONE MORE WILL BE FINE!!
@gcunit I dont understand the story or plot at all. There are way too many characters with seemingly random connections (to me, at least). Dragonball games tend to be decent, however, but this one is phenomenal.
Will be getting it... the question is physical vs digital. Help please.
@kobashi100 Interesting you mention the performance drops as I’ve been playing all weekend and haven’t seen one yet?
EDIT : I’ve only played handheld so far.
Remember back in the day when we were amazed that we could “play” a cartoon in Dragon’s Lair? Now look at us, fully and truly playing and controlling actual cartoons. So glad I lived to see this day.
Eh, this game is only an 8/10 at best for me. The gameplay is amazing and the art style being closer to the anime oozes charm. Funimation's Dub Voices are also welcoming to add to that charm.
Story Mode, though, was tedious and repetitive to go through and the Arcade Mode got a little cheap at times, especially on the higher-tier paths. Even with the FighterZ Pass purchased, there's far too little characters in count (like, where's Imperfect Cell? Where's Hercule? Where's Jiren? Where's...anybody?) and the stage selection feels way too small, especially since Heavy Attacks can further reduce that count. Also, the lack of full aerial combat in this game made this less of a "Dragon Ball" game. Even the average Extreme Butoden and the awful Super Butoden had this.
As a standalone competitive fighter, I enjoyed it heavily. As a Dragon Ball game, I expected a lot better. And while I don't regret playing this, both the game and the FighterZ Pass felt way too overpriced for me.
I'm not much the Vs. fighter gamer, and I've only dabbled in past Dragonball Z games, but this game sure is getting a tremendous amount of praise. I'll come cross this game sooner or later, I'm sure of it.
Has to be game of the year for switch. Sorry smash bros.
NintendoLife, where 9 out of 10 games get a 9 out of 10.
this game is awesome.
@diablo2 I don’t think too many games get 10/10 on this site. The only ones I can remember recently are Celeste, Mario Odyssey, and BOTW.
@Krisi Stupid Nintendo Life! Should’ve rated it a 2/10, Nintendo Life is obviously saying it’s an instant classic and not just saying it’s a good game!
Besides Android 21 how do you unlock the other characters? I see about eight other characters on the fighter select screen. How are those unlocked???
This game is arguably the Switch's best 3rd party title.
It does't have anime tiddies so the reviewer isn't offended enough to give it a 4
I am hesitant about this one since the beta was a bit underwhelming.
Have this on my Steam since day 1. Also double dipped since day 1 for Switch version. Love it.
the ginyu force is dam hilarious im glad they kept the original voices for them instead of awful ones on kai especially jeuice,burter,and guildo.
I was worried it was a folly preordering this at full price, especially as there were no reviews of the Switch version until after launch.
But it’s a beautiful game inside and out. I know nothing about Dragon Ball but I’m having so much fun with it. Highly recommended from me.
Nice to see it's a good port. Now I'll have to wait, as I always do with fighting games, in order to see a complete edition released. If it doesn't come, well, at least the game itself will see its price lowered, Bandai Namco does it even on Switch. And if not... I have Xbox One too.
Question: how are you supposed to pronounce this game's name?
Fighters? Fighter Zed? Fighter Zee?
It's been bugging me for a while.
Is there an "Abridged" version of the story mode? I'm actually more familiar with the voice actors for it than official English version.
Great port, both on handheld and docked. I've only noticed some resolution drops on handheld after certain special attacks. Playing this with the Joy-con controllers can be a bit of a hassle though. Many times I input the command for a special move after a combo and it just won't work. A controller with a proper d-pad or even a fight stick would help out a lot.
This certainly sounds like the best DBZ fighting game for online play, but otherwise it doesn't sound like it beats out DBZ: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 or 3 on the Wii. Those games also provide excellent fighting mechanics along with a lot more playable characters (none of which you need to pay extra for), some light RPG mechanics, and some truly excellent motion controls that make the Wii versions superior to the PS3 versions.
@Caryslan for me it's the other way around.
But that's not my point. In Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Guilty Gear, Blazblue or whatever "older" game, it's nearly to impossible to win a match by just mashing buttons. In DB Fighterz, Blazblue CTB or Blade Strangers it's a common thing. And that's sad imo. I want to learn complicate combos and master the game. And of course you can do it in a DBFighterz too, but the way is much easier and not satisfying to me.
@Mrtoad Seriously now, I get that there are tons of great games, but I honestly feel like almost everything gets a 9/10 here.
It's an awesome game, but I've turned on simple controls because I just cannot pull off the quarter-circle turn on the joypads. I don't know if I need the HORI stick or at least the HORI gamepad. Either way, neither are portable as they required the USB port on the dock.
Dragon Ball wiki or just watch Dragon Ball Kai and Super, it's worth it !! @gcunit
Although I have a SF30 with a d pad I’m used to the quarter circle inputs on the joy con from all the Hamster Neo Geo games. To the point I actually find it easier now without the d pad, which is weird.
@JoeDiddley Do you mean that the 8bitdo SF30 is a good wireless controller for quarter-circle inputs?
@riChchestM I mean I’m so used to the joy con now that I struggle with the quarter circle special moves when moving to the 8bitdo SF30 pro. For both this and Neo Geo fighters.
I commented because it’s weird, I expected to be the other way around.
But I think this is just me rather than a reflection on the awesome 8bitdo controller.
@whanvee I agree. It's a bit weird to read unlocking characters by simply playing the game be viewed as a bad thing, especially since it's how things used to be
Love this game and I'm not even a Dragon Ball fan..
Don't believe the graphics review. This game's cut scenes look horrible on the nintendo switch both handheld and docked mode.
While fighting in handheld, and to a lesser extent in docked, the digits and letters on the health bar are scaled and have lower resolution than everything else and is an eyesore. Ok game, unsuccessful port.
@Rhaoulos I believe the correct way to say it is "Fighters".
@Nomad Good to know. Thanks to you, I won't struggle like an idiot next time I have to pronounce that name
Ui goku should be added that will be awsome
Sequel bound to happen!
My favourite non-Smash fighter on the Switch and I am a fan of the genre & have a large number of fighting games on the console (which are all decent, good or excellent).
This game is fun. I enjoy this a ton. No frame rate drops, no crashes, it's very smooth. Offline. Online is different, but at least the connection is better than elite smash. Still, people ragequit too much. But it's super fun to play and SSJ4 Gogeta is broken
@Romeo-75 do I need to know anything about Dragon Ball Z before playing this game? Or can I just jump straight into this game
@1ofUs you don’t need any prior knowledge to Dragon Ball Z right?
@anoyonmus Its a game you can just jump in but having knowledge of the anime franchise the game is based on definitely helps as well.
If you like anime you will most likely find a ton to love within the Dragon Ball series. Hope that helps and if you like fighting games Dragon Ball Fighter Z is a fantastic title seriously it's an amazing game.
@Romeo-75 I see
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