Historically, Dragon Ball fighting games have always straddled the line between being competent fighters and throwing in loads of characters and complex mechanics to make the gameplay look just like the show. The closest things fans had to a nuanced fighting game (the Budokai series) still lacked the depth of mainstream games like Street Fighter and Tekken. So, when the no-nonsense Dragon Ball FighterZ was unveiled at E3 2017, it became a highlight of the show for Dragon Ball fans who wondered what took Bandai Namco so long.
Previous Dragon Ball fighting games were usually evaluated on the shallow basis of, “How many characters does it have?” or “How many obscure movie/OVA characters can I play as?” With FighterZ, fans must alter their expectations. Rather than just making dozens of cookie-cutter characters that all play the same, developer Arc System Works must design each fighter to make sure they’re balanced, unique, and fit the game’s 3v3 format.
That’s why we’re listing the Dragon Ball characters we think would best benefit FighterZ as a fighting game first and foremost. While some of these entries are Dragon Ball fighter regulars, it’s important to remember that no character is guaranteed in a game like this. This list is more about how they could be designed with respect to established fighting game archetypes, and what they could contribute to the roster that would make DBFZ a tournament-class fighting game.
Plays like: Zangief (Street Fighter series)
Broly is the gold standard when it comes to fan service characters in Dragon Ball games, and it’s easy to see why. His character design is pure badass and intimidation, which makes him a perfect fit for a grappler like Zangief.
While Broly could still maintain his iconic green energy blasts, they could be slow, and designed to help close the distance for command grabs. Another move which nullifies projectiles while also getting him closer to the opponent would be ideal, like Zangief’s Banishing Flat (the one that makes his hands glow green). And perhaps his green barrier could make him invincible to beams for a short period, allowing him to power through opponents’ attempts to keep him at bay. This type of design would tap into his identity as a terrifying aggressor while also making him stand out from the rest of the cast.
Plays like: Flash (Injustice series)
The legendary assassin of Universe 6 quickly became a fan favorite when he appeared in the early episodes of Dragon Ball Super. His time-skip technique gave Goku trouble during the tournament between Universe 6 and Universe 7, which gives him the potential to be an electric rush-down character, like the Flash.
In Injustice 2, Flash’s lightning-quick special moves allow for flashy combo extensions and dirty mix-ups. His character power, Speed Zone, slows down time and lets him extend combos for extra damage. Hit’s skillset could look identical. Giving him the ability to put his opponents in a vortex of rapid-fire, high-low moves would be the perfect way to bring Hit to life.
Jaco the Galactic Patrolman
Plays like: Captain Commando (Marvel vs. Capcom 2)
Initially debuting in an original story set within the Dragon Ball canon, Jaco became a series regular after appearing in the Resurrection ‘F’ movie, followed by the Dragon Ball Super retelling. He’s not strong for a galactic patrolman (let alone a Saiyan like Goku) but he brings along the standard-issue arsenal of a space cop that would be great as an assist character.
Despite Marvel vs. Capcom 2 being a game dominated by only a handful of characters from its 56-man roster, Captain Commando’s Captain Corridor assist was so powerful that players picked the lower-tiered fighter just to use his fearsome anti-air ability. Given FighterZ is a 3v3 fighter, it should embrace diverse team structures where assist-heavy characters can fulfill a support role, while being weak on point. Something like a devastating air strike from his space ship that fills a quadrant of the screen could give him value on the sidelines.
Plays like: Quan Chi (Mortal Kombat series)
Another fan-favorite movie villain, this character’s final form would be incredible to see brought to life in FighterZ’s beautiful, 60 FPS arena. He can control his body on a molecular level inside the Other World, teleporting parts or all of himself around his opponent. Janemba’s mystical powers are similar to Mortal Kombat’s demonic sorcerer, Quan Chi, who also uses portals to teleport his limbs and make his opponents feel unsafe from full screen.
While remaining a threat at a range, Janemba could also use his sword for quick homing attacks. Janemba’s final form is essentially a child’s playful nature concentrated into pure evil, so a move set that gives him the freedom to toy with his opponent from the other side of the battlefield would fit his juvenile personality.
Plays like: Deadpool/Morrigan (Marvel vs. Capcom 3)
A joke character in most Dragon Ball games, Hercule typically uses man-made weapons like jetpacks and explosives to stand toe-to-toe with the serious fighters. Despite being a boastful coward, he always squeaks by dangerous situations through dumb luck (like when he used his fame to convince all of earth to offer their energy to Goku to create the Spirit Bomb that destroyed Majin Buu). His irritant personality would make him a great meter-building support character that stays alive by keeping the opponent at bay with annoying keep-away zoning tools.
In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Deadpool plays similarly. He’s designed to frustrate the other player into making a mistake. He uses ninja stars, bolas, and grenades to create space between him and his opponent, waiting for them to get impatient and rush in recklessly. Morrigan can also zone out the opponent by flying to the top of the screen, and can build the meter quickly with one of her assists. If Hercule had access to his jetpack, he could stay near the top of the screen while peppering his superhuman attackers with C4 and rocket-propelled grenades. His assist could call out for energy from the people of Earth, feeding his teammates meter before quickly running off to take cover. Like Jaco, Hercule could be a support character that players can build complex teams around.
Plays like: Pokémon Trainer (Super Smash Bros. Brawl)
One of Goku’s first adversaries, Emperor Pilaf and his minions Mai and Shu returned as comic relief in Dragon Ball Super. Grossly underpowered to Goku even when he was a child, the Pilaf gang relies on tricks and gadgets to advance their plans of world domination. In video games, they’re usually represented in their “Pilaf Machine,” where each of the members controls a part of a giant robot that can combine Power Rangers-style. Their design could take inspiration from the unconventional Pokémon Trainer character from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
In Brawl, the trainer doesn’t actually fight, but commands his Pokémon from the sideline. He can swap between the three, each excelling at different things. Pilaf, Mai and Shu could also have different strengths, and temporarily combine for one of their supers. The Pilaf Machine could have super armor and smash through normal attacks and weak projectiles, overpowering melee characters who are used to getting close easily.
Plays like: Phoenix (Marvel vs. Capcom 3)
After giving into his jealousy, Vegeta sells his soul to Babidi and finally attains the explosive power to contend with Goku. He becomes reckless and inadvertently murders hundreds of tournament viewers to exact his revenge. He ultimately realizes the error of his ways and sacrifices himself to try to destroy Majin Buu. In a 3v3 fighting game format, it’s important to have an explosive anchor character in the third slot that can take advantage of all the meter you’ve built up in the fight so far. And in fighting games, there are few anchors as infamous as Phoenix from Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
If you had five bars of meter when Phoenix died, the character would be revived and transform into the fearsome Dark Phoenix that could easily steal a match. Many players would build entire teams around Phoenix to ensure she would go Dark, which, if translated to FighterZ, could create more complex team composition strategies. While some would argue Phoenix ruined Marvel 3, Majin Vegeta could rework her design in a way that’s not as cheap. Perhaps his full-meter super could be his iconic Final Explosion, which could kill most of the cast on hit while destroying himself in the process. Or maybe he can burn the meter to improve his speed and power, increasing his comeback potential.
Plays like: Urien (Street Fighter V)
Following his video game debut in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, the final villain of Dragon Ball GT became a semi-regular addition to Dragon Ball fighting games. His unconventional use of dark Minus Energy provides plenty of options for Arc System Works to bring the ultimate Shadow Dragon to a competitive fighting game.
Urien’s Street Fighter V incarnation seems like it could fit Omega Shenron. A character with strong normals, projectiles, and a fireball reflector all seem within the realm of possibility for Omega Shenron. Even Urien’s critical art, which is a giant pillar of electricity, echoes Omega Shenron’s Dragon Thunder move from Budokai 3. Of all the GT characters to represent, the series’ greatest adversary would offer the most flexibility in terms of character design and visual spectacle.
For more on Dragon Ball FighterZ, check out our interview with the game's producer Tomoko Hiroki.Original Article