Review – Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission
Ever played a game that’s so wrong on paper and so devoid of polish, yet you just can’t stop playing it? That’s the best way I can start off my review for Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission. There’s so much wrong in this game, so many signs of lazy development, but the few aspects where it shines basically save the game from being a complete disaster. Better yet, they actually make the damn thing fun and borderline addictive. Who would have thought?
Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is a new iteration of a card game series that’s quite popular in Japanese arcades. Your objective is simple: create a deck comprised of seven cards, sometimes including your own custom character, and deplete the enemy’s HP with a combination of actual moments of strategy and a ton of quick-time events. Many of these include some random instances in which you’re allowed to perform extra attacks, even though you have no idea how.
The fighting system is actually simple, but the game features such a lethargic learning curve and a downright polluted interface that it makes it look a lot more convoluted than it actually is. You need to choose which of your characters is going to fight on a certain round, always paying attention to his/her/its stamina bar and card type. Each card can either be a balanced type, an elite (focused on shooting ki blasts), or a berserker (a physical attacker).
Even though there is a bit of strategy involved, given how cards have different attributes and can activate special attacks earlier depending on how many hero points you currently have, the combat system in Super Dragon Ball Heroes relies too much on quick-time events. You can basically beat a much stronger deck if you’re better at pressing the A button at the right time than your opponent, since doing so guarantees that you’ll either deliver a critical blow or fully defend an enemy attack.
Things get even worse when you start analyzing the game’s technical aspects. It’s an ugly game, pure and simple. Super Dragon Ball Heroes literally features the same graphical engine and assets from the Budokai games released more than fifteen years ago. That’s right: after being gifted with fantastic visual representations of the Dragon Ball saga in both Xenoverse 2 and FighterZ, going back to dated polygons and nonexistent facial expressions was a bitter pill to swallow. Add in a ton of flashy text and icons onscreen, and the end result is a complete visual mess that’s often painful to the eyes.
The sound design isn’t anything better, to be fair. The soundtrack is comprised of excessively upbeat songs that are looped way too often. Not to mention, while there is a lot of voice acting, it’s all in Japanese, without subtitles, and constantly overshadowed by the much louder music and overall sound effects. Just like the visuals, it’s a mess through and through.
How on Earth was I able to enjoy a game like this even though I just criticized almost everything it had to offer? Well, Super Dragon Ball Heroes is not necessarily a good game, but it sure is a fun Dragon Ball product for Dragon Ball fans.
The best way to describe Super Dragon Ball Heroes is that it’s pure fan service. It’s basically the most complete Dragon Ball encyclopedia ever put in a video game. All of the sagas are here. All of random movies are here. All of the characters are here, no matter how useless or unremarkable they were. Do you want to make a team comprised of Spopovich, Android 12, Fat Gotenks, Chiaotzu, and the Chinese assassin from the original Dragon Ball? Sure, why not? Ever thought about how Gohan would look in Super Saiyan 4 form? Well, he’s available as a character in here! Ever wanted to make Mr. Satan as strong as Gogeta? Use the ultra-detailed Card Creator mode, and provided you have enough resources, you can bring this useless dream of yours to life!
If you’re a Dragon Ball fan, then Super Dragon Ball Heroes is actually a very fun game, full of “what if” scenarios, detailed lore, and more content than your innocent mind can imagine. If you’re not a Dragon Ball fan, then you won’t be able to put up with this game’s terrible visuals, sound, confusing controls, and totally forgettable story. Super Dragon Ball Heroes is a great example of “you’ll either love it or hate it”. It’s all up to you, dear player.
The same engine and visual assets from the Budokai games. They didn’t look appealing back then, and they surely don’t look appealing nowadays…
Despite the confusing rules and reliance on QTEs, the combat system is actually quite enjoyable. The entire game is playable with the Switch’s touchscreen as well, which is a welcome addition.
A repetitive soundtrack, poor sound effects, a ton of Japanese voice work with no subtitles, and terrible audio mixing. This is just not acceptable.
Fun Factor: 8.5
All (many) issues aside, there’s a lot to do and see in Super Dragon Ball Heroes. It’s filled with a ton of content, fan service, and overall spectacle. The combat system is also very enjoyable once you figure out how it works.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is available now on PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.