Dragon Ball Prints Money, but These DBZ Games Are Crap

#3: Dragon Ball Z: Sagas

Mindlessness taken to such an extreme it skips over ridiculous insanity and stops dead on lazy cynicism, Dragon Ball Z: Sagas is a tour de force in middling slop.

Beat 'em ups were a dying breed and desperate need of innovation. Fortunately the entire genre was saved by way of Devil May Cry in 2001, so to see Sagas regress three years later, especially alongside Ninja Gaiden in 2004, is uncomfortable at best. Sagas marks new territory for publisher Atari, who made the executive decision that enjoying a bad fighting game for 15 minutes with a friend was far too generous, and instead has opted to replace the laughably bad with the excruciatingly droll. As a single player experience, this game is so unflappably mediocre it's actually less enjoyable than if it was simply a bad game.

Instead, Dragon Ball Z: Sagas heads for the doldrums less traveled and has created a beat 'em up game where nothing feels good. Invisible walls will ensure you're bashing your head through a endless mush of saibamen with a stunningly featureless combat system where your punches, kicks and ki attacks all feel so unsatisfying to use that they may as well just not work and, thanks to the collision detection, sometimes they just won't.

You can purchase upgrades to enhance the combat but they actually do nothing to enhance your experience. Whether it's a purchased ability or one unlocked from the start, every move in the game features a janky animation that takes too long to play out, reducing the already monotonous gameplay to a stuttering mess. This causes everything to feel slow and plodding, which is the last thing you want in a beat 'em up.

Sagas is a game that worships apathy, revels in blase. The graphics match the dull pace of the combat, giving you such two-fifths interpretations of DBZ locations that it staggers the bad imagination. The character models are more than willing to match the speed of the game, coming in as underwhelming as the code can muster. Voice over work in the game could have been done by anybody; it might as well be white noise. There's nothing here. Dragon Ball Z: Sagas isn't smoke and mirrors trying to masquerade as a passable game. It's just smoke.

Published Jan. 30th 2018

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