When writing game reviews, I almost universally stick to a tried-and-true formula of general sentiments toward the title, followed by a plot overview, strengths/weaknesses, then ultimate conclusions.
Occasionally, however, a title is so damn good that it makes better sense to simply throw foreplay out the window.
‘Dragonball Evolution’ (DE) is not one of those titles.
Simply put, DE fails on all accounts. It sports a piss-poor fighting engine, packs zero storyline, and has no semblance of either movie tie-in nor ‘Dragonball’ feel. Even for diehards, I’m on my textual hands and knees begging you not to purchase this abomination of a PSP game.
Having recently played and/or reviewed a fair slew of fighting engines, I can safely say that DE fails miserably in comparison to its Capcom, Midway, and SNK peers. In DE, the simplest of button pressing plus subtle power-up engagement results in easy victory, with strategy winnowed down to subtle dodging and countering.
Worse yet, every character plays nearly identical to one another. (Example: Combat distinctions between Goku and Bulma were almost non-existent.)
The freak factor simultaneously kicks in by DE’s portrayal of Dragonball characters as their real life, film representations. A childish, goofy Chow Yun-Fat as Master Roshi? A slut version of Bulma with a handgun fetish?! Shame on you, Namco.
Continuing down the rabbit hole, DE’s ‘story’ mode is simply the fighting mode surrounded by static cut scenes. Meaning, shameless, stupid dialog boxes that pretend to link fights to one another via ‘deeper’ plotlines. Even the WWE is more complex when pretending to pit good guys against arch nemeses.
Last and perhaps most important, ‘Dragonball Evolution’ is devoid of any semblance of a legendary series ripe with enjoyable characters and chaotic plotlines. Not once did I even get the slightest itch of a game celebrating a classic anime series. One can only hope the movie isn’t this bad.
CONCLUSION: While my copy of ‘Dragonball Evolution’ for the PSP is a pre-release version of the game, I believe it far beyond repair between now and retail release. ‘Dragonball Evolution’ is yet another example of a poor movie-to-game port, one fans and newbies should avoid at all costs.