E3 2012: Dragon Ball Z for Kinect & Power Rangers: Super Samurai Hands-On Preview – Hi-Ya!
Written Saturday, June 16, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Namco Bandai has the Saturday morning television stuff sewn up with its Kinect line-up it seems, boasting both Dragon Ball Z for Kinect and Power Rangers: Super Samurai – also for Kinect – providing more punching and kicking, motion-controlled japery than you can shake a stick at. Each game looks to offer high-energy martial arts action, and both titles had us out on the E3 showfloor looking undoubtedly like a complete tool as we flailed around trying to work out how to play them.
Starting with Dragon Ball Z for Kinect, we find ourselves inhabiting the body of Piccolo, as we take on Vegeta while floating above one of the anime series' typically expansive green plains. You view the action from a first-person viewpoint, while on the left of your HUD you can see some of the various steps and gestures you need to replicate in order to execute the pyrotechnic moves and fireworks. On the right hand of the screen, you can keep track of the moves you've pulled off, so you can learn the results of each of your actions.
Using Kinect, we started with some basic jabbing combos to get warmed up, smacking Vegeta around a bit. As you punch and kick, you'll see your character's limbs lashing out on-screen, giving you a nice bit of feedback, while the camera swoops around just like an episode of Dragon Ball Z. It's suitably dynamic and it works well enough, but if you're unfamiliar with the popular anime, you might not realise you have to charge up energy to unleash devastating moves that can turn the tide in a battle.
Guided by one of the game's devs, we're told to put our index and middle fingers to our forehead to charge a special move, at which point an energy gauge appears on the left of your HUD that steadily fills. Once fully charged, you can thrust your palm forward and blast your rival with a spectacular screen-filling impact. In this particular case, Piccolo performs a 'super beam cannon' tearing a huge furrow along the battlefield, sending Vegeta flying. Dragon Ball Z fans will no doubt be in heaven with this kind of thing.
That said, we did find that almost the entire duration of our hands-on had us jabbing wildly for a seemingly interminable amount of time. We realise that Dragon Ball Z battles are usually drawn out affairs, but we felt like we were flailing like a madman and making very little progress. Still, with the HUD showing us what we should have been doing, perhaps we should have paid more attention. After a while, we managed to vanquish Vegeta with a few super beams, thrown fireball projectiles and punches. Loads of punches. It's responsive, and we can see that Dragon Ball Z fans will most definitely enjoy what's on offer here.
Over 100 different moves from the series are supposedly in the game, despite us feeling like we used about three at the most, and there are more than 50 characters on the roster, although around 20 of these will be unlocked by scanning special QR codes. Chuck in over 30 minutes of bonus Dragon Ball Z anime footage, motion-controlled gameplay that works, and Dragon Ball Z for Kinect is a package that fans of the anime and comic books should certainly check out when it releases this October.
We're slightly less convinced by Power Rangers: Super Samurai, which is certainly more of a flail fest than Dragon Ball Z for Kinect. There's a whole bunch of modes to check out in Super Samurai, including one where you're on-screen copying moves with the Power Rangers gang to score points based on the accuracy of your move matching. But we skip that for the Megazord Battle mode, in which you fight against a giant-sized monster as the combined might of the towering Megazord.
The crux involves timing punches and kicks to wear down the extra-terrestrial creature, before becoming locked in a struggle as you stomp around skyscrapers and tower blocks like Godzilla. It's classic Power Rangers fare, but it's pretty lightweight and undemanding, requiring simple rinse and repeat tactics to topple the monster. It's all very bright and colourful, intercut with actual clips from the TV show and the corresponding voiceovers from the actors.
There isn't a huge amount of variations in your actions however, other than copying the Power Rangers' moves as the action cuts to the interior of the Megazord. We can't imagine that anyone but the true die-hard fans will want to take return trips to this mode, but at the very least, it does look like the TV show.
We decide to take the game's Ranger Mode for a spin next. An on-rails slice 'em up in which your chosen Ranger runs through a stage cutting down enemy (Nighlok, right?) foot soldiers with a variety of mighty morphin' weapons. Get into it and you'll break a sweat, but only because you have to keep performing constant slashing motions or your character won't move forward. You can mix things up with kicks if you like, but generally, it seems that your enormous oversized sword is usually a lot more effective.
The on-rails slicing goes on for what seems like a small eternity, with our transforming blade lending the only variety to proceedings. It's fun in a mindless sort of way, and once we carve our way to the end of stage boss, things do get a little more challenging. Here you have a health bar to keep an eye on and the boss's attack patterns to figure out. A human-sized version of the large monster we fought earlier in Megazord Mode, we have to duck his spinning fist attacks, lean left and right to avoid his stretchy-arm swipes, and be sure to keep swishing our sword around. That's a lot of arm waving.
All in all, Power Rangers: Super Samurai is good clean fun, albeit rather mindless fun. We're not entirely sure that we're the target audience though, as we actually found it quite wearisome having not watched an episode of Power Rangers since the original show aired back in the 90s. Like Dragon Ball Z for Kinect, it's clearly one for the fans again, and no doubt they'll find something to love amid the endless arm-swooshing when the game launches this September.
Consider yourself lucky if you're a fan of Dragon Ball Z or Power Rangers: Super Samurai then. Namco Bandai's got you covered with a brace of Kinect titles that might be worth a look. Non-fans meanwhile, might not find much in the way of redeeming qualities in both games. They're perfectly fine at what they do, but not particularly groundbreaking. The core Kinect experiences you've been waiting for? Not so much, no.