Charm and gameplay fuse together to form a fun adventure.
I always liked the idea of the fusion system in the Dragon Ball universe. Combining two of the Z Fighters into one superhuman being definitely has its appeal - could you imagine what it would look like if, say, Krillin and Piccolo were to merge into one? That’d be pretty awesome! So when Dragon Ball Fusions was announced, I was ready to jump to the helm. What I got was a pretty fun role playing game that perfectly captures that Dragon Ball essence. Dragon Ball Fusions is not without its faults, but the charm of the series and the fun battle system helps overcome most of the obstacles that come with it.
One of the big positives right from the get-go is that the game’s story does not follow the manga or anime series like most other Dragon Ball games, giving it a more leeway in what it can do. Not that it differs radically from other stories, but the new scenarios for established characters is a nice touch. The story has your custom character (which you can design and name) and your ally, Pinch, gather the dragonballs and wish for the greatest tournament ever. Shenron grants the wish, but not before you go on an adventure to recruit and gather fighters from the various Dragon Ball sagas in order to assemble a great team for the tournament.
While the game’s story is relatively new, most of the game’s characters, including those that you recruit, are completely familiar. A bunch of familiar faces from all three Dragon Ball shows are represented, ranging from Goku as a child to Super Android 17 from Dragon Ball GT. Heck, you can even recruit characters from Dragon Ball Super, which is currently airing in Japan but still hasn’t made its way to North America. Literally everyone and anyone you can think of you can either recruit, or you can come across in some form in this game, giving the game a fan service type of appeal.
Gameplay is similar to that of something like a game of marbles, at least as far as movement goes. You conduct battles inside a closed-off area where you can attack, causing your opponent to float across the stage, sometimes running into opponents/allies for further damage. You charge and attack either using melee, ki powers (which are just blasts of energy) or special powers (moves like the Kamehameha wave, healing powers, etc.), eventually building a gauge where you can use fusion attacks or even use a special fusion move where all five of your teammates fuse into one person, unleashing huge attacks against your foes. I enjoyed the battle system as a whole, as it felt like a true Dragon Ball style battle - you can even send your opponents out of the ring and into a mountain or other large structures, just like you see in literally every episode of Dragon Ball Z!
There are a couple of problems with the game, however. Battles tend to last pretty long - I want to say around five to ten minutes each, which feels a little too long for my tastes, especially if you have to clear a lot of battles to progress through the game. There is also the matter of progression through the story. You need a certain amount of energy in order to move on to the next part of the game. You normally gain energy after winning battles, but obtaining some of the energy is pretty tedious. You need to recruit people in your team by doing a Zenkai Attack during battle, and that is only when the attack is certain to defeat the person you’re trying to recruit--plus, depending on what type of energy you need, the person you’re recruiting needs to be a specific race. Oh, and a person can only be recruited if they have a star next to their name. It's not as complicated as it reads out, but it’s still pretty tedious, especially if you just want to move on through the game's story.
Tedium aside, I enjoyed my time with Dragon Ball Fusions. The game’s battle system is pretty enjoyable, and the story is a nice change of pace from normal Dragon Ball games that just parrot stories from the various sagas. It’s nothing revolutionary, and there are certainly some problems here and there, but Dragon Ball Fusions is a fun game that takes its creative license to create an enjoyable experience.