Tag Archive: fighter

A not-so-Super Saiyan

I was never really big into anime, but like most every other guy back in my day, there was about a two-to-three year period where Dragon Ball Z was near the top of my list of must-see TV shows. Unlike some other obsessions in my life, my Dragon Ball Z love affair was short-lived,  mostly because there really hasn’t been anything new with the series since those days.

Even the DBZ videogames that have been released over the years simply rehashed the same story over and over again. It’s gotten to a point where it’s hard for me to get excited anymore because I know that nothing content-wise has changed. All we’ll see is maybe better graphics or some new gameplay mechanics as we take on Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu for the billionth time.

But Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z was supposed to be different. It was coming after last year’s release of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, a film that Battle of Z was supposed to incorporate elements from, and the first new DBZ movie in years. Battle of Z also channels the look and gameplay of Dragon Ball: Zenkai Battle Royale, a DBZ arcade game, so this could surely breathe some freshness in the series for those who only play on consoles.

I’m afraid, however, that my high hopes didn’t pan out. As is normally the case, not enough has changed, and some of the new mechanics do more harm than good.

The new customization features are a perfect example. Not only can you change the color of your favorite DBZ characters’ outfits, but as you beat missions in the story mode, you earn points and special boost cards. These cards can increase your melee strength, HP, Ki blast power, speed, and more. The points can also be spent to also buy more cards if needed.

It starts off as an intriguing way to see whether you can truly make Goku “over 9,000” in terms of power level as you see the direct benefits of what a “+35 melee” card or the like, but by the time you get halfway through the Cell Saga, you’re trying to grind for new cards or points to buy better ones than what you’re given to overcome some really brutal battles.

The worst part about the card system, though, is that it’s random. You may want a melee boost, but you might only collect Speed and HP boosts. Plus, each character can only equip so many cards at a time, so you could have a flood of cards you don’t need as you slowly try to collect the point to buy the card you want or hope you get lucky. It’s an interesting take on leveling up characters and implementing new RPG-like elements into a fighter, but the randomness becomes a grind that gives little to no reward.

Besides this abominable leveling system, the game also fails to deliver enough content revolving around Battle of Gods. The first new movie in over a decade for DBZ gets a single mission in the game. With 60 missions in the single-player mode overall, that’s a pathetically small offering, especially when you make players grind through multiple missions based around the same handful of storylines we’ve been playing through for decades now. At the very least, beating it does unlock Goku’s Saiyan God form as well as two new characters from the movie, Whis and Beerus. But it’s not enough.

Not everything is a disaster, though. From a gameplay perspective, Battle of Z does a fine job of representing its arcade brethren—and the anime itself—on consoles with over a dozen huge arenas and battles that usually are massive in scope. You can also take up to three AI allies into every battle, even if they’re clones of the player character. This leads to some epic re-creations, since the Z Fighters (Goku and his friends) can take on the entire Ginyu Force in one mission. It also opens up some interesting “What If?”-style missions in the single-player mode, like having a bunch of Super Saiyans taking on all four forms of Frieza at the same time. The friendly AI could use some work, and the camera can go a bit wonky when the action gets particularly hectic, but otherwise, the combat’s definitely not the weakest part of this fighter.

When you boil everything down, this still isn’t the Dragon Ball Z game fans want. The single-player mode offers almost nothing we haven’t seen before, and it can’t even be bothered to give us any cutscenes from the anime to tie all the missions—or at least the Sagas—together. A few interesting co-op and team-battle modes on top of the story can make for some online havoc, but it’s still not enough to warrant a Battle of Z purchase by anyone but the most obsessive of DBZ fans.

Developer: Artdink • Publisher: Namco Bandai • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 01.28.14
Battle of Z had a lot of potential, but like so many DBZ games before it, it fails to capture the opportunity. The unnecessary amount of grinding required to progress through a story we’ve seen a dozen times before overshadows the decent combat.
The Good First DBZ game outside Japan with Goku’s God form, Beerus, and Whis.
The Bad Horrendous camera; customization system makes grinding more bothersome than normal.
The Ugly Remembering why I stopped caring about Dragon Ball Z in the first place.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PS Vita. Primary version reviewed was a retail copy provided by Namco Bandai for the Xbox 360. .

Originally Published: April 26, 2011, on Youtube.com/Rcars4885

I come to you once again with your weekly geek fix. This week’s episode sees me give my take on the PSN crash, review Batman #709 from DC Comics and the new Mortal Kombat from Netherrealm Studios and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment. My hot chick pick of the week is UFC Ring Girl Brittany Palmer and this week’s theme is the Mortal Kombat movie theme by The Immortals.

Originally Published: December 31, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Marvel vs. Capcom 2 from Capcom for the Xbox Live Arcade.

Originally Published: November 28, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Star Wars: Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels for the Nintendo Wii from Lucasarts.

Originally Published: November 28, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior video game for XBLA once again.

Originally Published: November 22, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Mortal Kombat: Armageddon for the Wii, the final game in the MK storyline that features all 64 characters.

Heroes in a Half-Shell

Originally Published: September 25, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com), and Lundberg.me

With this being the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mirage Studios and Ubisoft, who hold the video game licenses to the franchise, have been going all out with the shell-ebration. This includes a reissuing of some of the old 1980s action figures (which they were very kind to send me a Master Splinter figure; sweet!), a remake of Turtles in Time for the current generation of consoles, and the highly anticipated TMNT: Smash Up for the Nintendo Wii.

Now that TMNT: Smash Up is officially available; I want to take this time to analyze the first original TMNT game for this current generation of consoles. The basic plot of the game is that Master Splinter wants to hold a special ninjitsu tournament to see how far the turtles have progressed in their training. The prize would be any of the items of Splinter’s trophy room. Of course, there is a catch. Splinter, Casey Jones, and April O’ Neill are all going to be participating as well.

As the tournament progresses and a winner is about to crowned, the Turtles receive an emergency call from their old friend the Fugitoid saying he has been captured by Shredder. This is where you take over and progress through various fights before facing down Shredder and some Foot Soldiers.

The plot is simple, as it should be for a fighting game. No one besides Shredder should be the final boss and the fighting mechanics are great. Ubisoft took the same fighting engine that was used in the Super Smash Bros. series so you can have four-player grudge matches and the game flows very smoothly. The game looks beautiful with some awesome settings and great interactivity in the levels.

There are still a few things nagging at me though being a die-hard TMNT fan. First, the generic background music irritates me to no end. Can we PLEASE bring back the 80s theme? There wasn’t even the new cartoon theme. I’ll even take the “Go Ninja Go” rap from Vanilla Ice at this point.

That isn’t my biggest gripe though. My biggest gripe is that after being promised tons of characters, the list was suddenly shortened just before the release and instead of having hidden TMNT characters Ubisoft thought it would be a good idea to have three Raving Rabbids based on TMNT as hidden playable characters. WHAT?!

No Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang (although they might try to pull off the Utrominator as an upgraded Krang without calling him that), Leatherhead, Baxter Stockman, Rat King, General Kragg, Wingnut, Ace Duck, Usagi Yojimbo, Tokka, Rahzar, Slash, OR ANY OTHER BIG CHARACTERS WE CARE ABOUT! Instead, we got the Turtles, Shredder, Splinter, Karai, April, Casey and…that’s pretty much it. There were more stages than there were playable characters.

The most important thing about a fighting game after the fighting system itself is the roster of characters and TMNT: Smash Up sorely disappoints on this front. The majority of TMNT fans are still those of us who grew up on it and not catering to us is always a bad idea. I was really surprised with this considering the great job Ubisoft did when revamping Turtles in Time, but this really depressed me as a hardcore fan. Instead of trying to use this game to promote another franchise, Ubisoft should have concentrated on making this as good a game as possible.

Ratings are based on a score of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 8.5: For the most part the game did look beautiful. Some of the settings were a little darker than I liked and when some of the large maps zoomed out to show all the characters on screen, it was hard to tell where everyone was, but for the graphics were mostly crisp.

Audio: 5.0: The generic background music irritated me and made me long for the good old days with the 80s theme song. The SFX were average and the voice acting was solid using the newest cartoon’s voice actors, but they didn’t record a lot of lines so they repeat themselves frequently.

Plot/Plot Development: 7.0: The plot is not usually the strongest point for a fighting game. All you need is a reason to bring a lot of people together to duke it out and this game does that.

Gameplay: 8.0: The fighting mechanics are very good and all the characters have unique combos and special moves to fit their styles. Add in special Ninpo items like daggers, smoke bombs, and some mystical items that randomly appear on screen and you’ll have a solid fighting game experience.

Replay Value: 5.0: An arcade mode, survival mode, and mission mode all make the game worthy of playing, including a nice amount of unlockables, but with none of those unlockables being characters from the TMNT universe, I have to dock this score a lot.

Overall (not an average): 4.0: This game reminds me of the original Smash Bros. for N64 and if this was two generations ago, this would be a great game. Unfortunately, it’s not, so this game is not nearly as good as what we’ve come to expect from fighting games. A lackluster roster takes a lot away from the game and severely hurts the game’s replay value because there are only a few characters to go through the game with. The engine is great and that is the number one aspect for a fighting game, but everything after that falls flat on its face and any TMNT fan will be disappointed at the very least, if not furious, over this game. A more casual fan might want to rent this just to take a look, but probably not.

TMNT: Smash-Up is available now for the Nintendo Wii.

-Ray Carsillo

Near-Flawless Victory

Originally Published: November 29, 2008, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

Most felt that the Mortal Kombat series had suffered one of their own fatalities; they thought the previous installment in the series would mark a possible end to one of the most successful fighting franchises of all time. The genii at Midway would need something big, some twist, to rejuvenate the series and keep it fresh.

Enter one of the most enduring pop-culture franchises ever created, DC Comics. With the likes of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and many others, you had instantly recognizable names, faces, places, and powers that had just recently been rejuvenated themselves through blockbuster box office returns and are in the midst of one of the largest comic story arcs ever where evil is supposed to win in the Final Crisis.

So, what happens when two beloved pop-culture dynamos come together? They FIGHT! I present to you ladies and gentlemen: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.

If you are going to get one fighting game this holiday season, this is the one. From a storyline that actually makes sense, to brand new features like “Testing Your Might” in the middle of a battle, and mid-air and special “Klose Kombat” fighting sequences and the series has successfully been renewed.

In terms of the combat, the old Mortal Kombat system has returned along with a few new twists. There are now expert moves, moves that, if timed correctly, are automatically done twice and done more powerfully the second time. However, so small is the window to pull off these moves that even the better experts will have difficulty performing them every time. Mix this with the potential for some old school 10 hit combos, the new mid-air and up-close fighting systems, and some revamped fatalities (and brutalities for the DC Heroes since they cannot kill) and the gameplay is on par with the best of the series.

The addition of DC’s greatest heroes and villains adds depth to the game by allowing you to play a deep story mode from both points of view (and you have to if you want to unlock both of the game’s hidden characters). You play through the story mode and get a chance to try almost every character to see their strengths and weaknesses. (I am still a dominating force with Sub-Zero.)

The big change to the story mode from previous games is that, even though it worked for a short while, there is no more third person action adventure. The story plays out for you in-between character-specific fights. For example, when Batman meets Scorpion and the two have words with each other, there is no third-person take on this. We go to an old school, best of three rounds, Kombat scenario. I personally enjoyed the third-person adventuring, but this was the only possible way to pull off a story mode in this game considering how many great characters are available to you. And, of course, the story mode leaves it open-ended enough so there is a possibility for a second MK vs. DCU.

Those are the game’s positives, but there are a few negatives. One of the big negatives is there are no level specific fatalities like in previous games. In the last installment of the Mortal Kombat series, you could knock your opponent into a lava pit or a giant meat grinder by hitting them up against certain walls or boundaries. Even in the old school games, with the right mashing of buttons at the end of a battle, you could knock your opponent into a spike pit or acid bath. These have all been removed.

Another issue I had was the lack of unlockables. The Krypt has been removed and the only things you can unlock, aside from story and arcade endings, are two bonus characters added to the twenty you start out with. I liked the Krypt, even if it was nearly impossible to get everything in it, because I enjoyed looking at extra movies and concept art and getting alternative costumes. You’re telling me you couldn’t give me black suit Superman from when he came back after being killed by Doomsday? How about an old-school blue Batman suit? The Joker in his Hawaiian vacation outfit is always hysterical. A lack of unlockables is a sore point with me and it damages this game’s replay value.

Even with a couple negatives, this was a great game. The spectacle of my favorite DC Heroes and Villains kicking butt was great. Add in the return of some of my favorites from the Mortal Kombat universe and then mixing in some old school, button mashing and I was one happy gamer from this. If there is one fighting game you are going to get this holiday season (because you should have gotten Super Smash Bros. Brawl back when it came out) this is the one.

If you want some more information on the new fighting mechanics and the storyline of the game, take a listen to my interview with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe Lead Designer Brian LeBaron. CLICK HERE

Ratings are based on a system of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Graphics: 9.0: Blood and guts galore are always the visual gem that a Mortal Kombat game provides and this one does not disappoint. A nice detail was how good Sub-Zero’s Ice Ball/Superman’s Ice Breath looked when the opponent was frozen solid. A point was removed because some of the interactive environment looked a little blocky and faded from the screen too quickly. Aside from that, this is a beautiful looking game.

Audio: 10.0: The voice acting was crisp and the SFX were all solid. The voice script was a little over the top, but its comic book characters fighting Mortal Kombat characters, I think I would have been more disappointed if it wasn’t over the top. This game delivers a great sounding experience.

Plot/Plot Development: 8.5: It was actually a plausible plot for these respective universes to somehow meet. Written by comic book veterans Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, the story kept in tune with both the Mortal Kombat and the DCU story lines. The time period was set happening sometime after the second Mortal Kombat game and before the Identity Crisis of the DCU and it fit well with the original plot. Some things were a stretch for both universes though and a few of the pop culture references were funny, but unnecessary.

Gameplay: 9.0: Like every Mortal Kombat before it, this was easy to pick up, but difficult to master. Some of the combos are simply impossible to complete and there were a couple of glitches if you liked to use Scorpion’s, Sub-Zero’s, Batman’s, or Raiden’s teleportation moves a lot. Still, this game was mostly smooth and not very frustrating.

Replay Value: 7.5: The lack of unlockables and extra characters keeps you from coming back to the single player story and arcade modes very often. The multiplayer and online features are solid, but won’t keep you coming back unless you need a constant dose of bloody, brutal fighting.

Overall (not an average): 8.5: This game is a great new entry into both Mortal Kombat’s and DCU’s respective mythos. The game gets a little repetitive after a while, but that’s the same for every fighting game. New in-battle Kombat systems, old-school characters, a revamped story mode, and old-school Mortal Kombat brutality makes this a must have if you are a fighting fan and/or a DC Universe fan. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is out now for XBOX360 and PS3.

-Ray Carsillo

Originally published: September 5, 2008, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

Midway Games is known for making some of the best arcade style games ever. I recently had the opportunity to sit down at the Arena Nightclub on W. 41st St. between 6thAve. and Broadway in NYC and try out the next installments in two of their powerhouse franchises, Blitz the League II and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.

I can’t give a full review on these games, since I only had the chance to play unfinished demos, but I will rate what I saw.


Blitz the League II brings back all the smash mouth, in your face action from the first, and adds some replay value by giving you a three season franchise mode. Along with strippers, steroids, and a few new crushing injuries that would make even the toughest dude squirm, this game delivers all the goods. I gave it an initial 9 out of 10. I’ll give a full review when it comes out October 13, 2008.
The Blitz franchise also brought back our favorite fictional football character based on a real badass dude, Quentin Sands played by NFL Hall of Famer and defensive legend, Lawrence Taylor.


Aside from Lawrence Taylor, I also caught up with Jacob Beucler, the Senior Associate Producer of Blitz the League II to get a few more details about the game that we couldn’t get through an exhibition demo. Here is what he had to say.


Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is one of the most anticipated games of the upcoming holiday season. Rumors have been swirling around the internet since this game was announced in terms of story, characters, and everything else you could think to make stuff up about. Although it had a few glitches, it still has a few more months of development before it’s released with that final polish we expect from a Mortal Kombat game.
This game will dominate though and my early review is another 9 out of 10. It looked beautiful and for the most part it played beautifully. I can’t wait to see the full story mode though to see exactly how these two very different franchises meet head to head. I had a chance to get some of the story from Brian LeBaron, the Lead Designer on Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Here is what he had to say.


Although I gave both quick reviews, expect the full breakdown of these games when they are released this fall.