Summary Fight your way through the Dragon Ball characters to reach victory.
Description Type: Fighting
Platform: Playstation One
Players: 1 - 8
Age: 11 Plus
Game Time: 1 hour
Developer or Designer: Bandai
Lots of characters to choose from
Each character has their own fighting style
Can unlock new characters
Up to eight players
Three different modes
Chance to practice before battle
Can retry levels without starting from the beginning
Characters improve as you play them
Characters speak in Japanese
Counter attacks are tricky to perform
Meteor Mode is confusing
Doesn't feature character, Kuririn
No reward for winning
Dragon Ball is a Japanese Manga series that began life in 1984 and then turned into anime in 1986. It follows the story of Goku from childhood to adulthood as he trains in martial arts and goes in search of seven magical dragon balls. Like most franchises, Dragon Ball also got turned into a video game, which was released for the Playstation One in 1997. Instead of following the storyline of the series, Final Bout is a 3D arcade-style fighting game. There is a significant depth of field, as you can fight on more than just one flat plane, bringing your character closer to the screen, moving them further into the background, and seeing them perform special moves in a full 360º.
There are several other great features included in this game, the first of which is how much of a social experience it is. Up to eight people can play at a time by sharing two controllers. It is fun playing agains the computer, but you get so much more satisfaction a the competitive atmosphere against your friends.
There are three different modes of play: Battle, Tournament, and Buildup. In Battle mode you face random battles one after another until you reach the final boss level to win the game. If you lose a battle, you can continue to play from where you left off (rather than starting from the beginning again), with the option to switch characters.In Tournament mode you choose a character and stick with it through the entire game. You will face a series of opponents in a tiered knock-out battle to try and become the champion. Buildup mode probably proves the most interesting as your chosen character builds up strength and skills with every battle you fight. This is the only mode in which you can save your progress.
There are several characters from the series to choose from, and you can unlock their Super Saiyan form after defeating them in battle. Each character has their own special moves, abilities, and weaknesses, and it is up to you to determine which character suits your style best. Initially I started playing as my favourite character, Gohan, but I later found that Little Goku worked much better for me in play.
It can take a while to familiarise yourself if all the buttons sequences for each move, which is why there is also a training arena available where you can practice without injury. But nothing prepares you like the real thing, and I actually found it a lot easier to learn while battling than while training.
There are a few things I find annoying about the game, the first of which is despite being a European release for the UK, the developers/publishers did not bother to change the voice cast from the original Japanese to English. All the text is in English, so you know what to do, but you can't understand what the characters are saying. Another disappointment is the lack of any reward after defeating the boss in Battle Mode. It would have been fun for the character to be presented with a trophy on a stadium, or to view an animated cut scene, but all you get are the credits, which you are unable to skip before returning to the main menu.
As fighting games go, I found Dragon Ball: Final Bout very entertaining, and one with a lot of replayability. Despite critics giving fairly negative reviews, I enjoyed it much more than the much more highly acclaimed Tekken series.