Japanese arcade gaming on the go.
For a card game based on a Japanese arcade game that’s nearly a decade old, Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission is a big game. It’s got an Arcade mode, a fully-featured Story Mode, and other such challenges that offer dozens and dozens of playtime when put together. A big Dragon Ball game is usually something worthy of applause, and while that’s mostly true in this case, there are some things worth knowing before making a commitment.
Because it’s fully-featured but built out of an arcade game, the gameplay is fairly simplistic. You choose up to seven fighters to face your opponent’s up-to-seven fighters, and unlike many other card games, all of your cards are “on the field” at the same time. The way it works is that you have all of your fighters on the field, and they can either be at the front of the pack, in the middle of the pack, in the back of the pack, or resting. Being at the back of the pack means that your attacks hit less hard, but you spend less stamina. Being at the front of the pack means that you are hitting harder, but it drains your limited stamina quickly.
Over the course of five rounds, the object of the game is to reduce your opponent’s HP to 0. Each card has a number of special attacks and abilities that activate under certain conditions, like it being a Round 2 or having enough Hero Energy (a resource that builds the more aggressive you get). The gameplay strategy is knowing when to be aggressive and when to back off to allow your cards to recharge.
It’s also worth knowing that the gameplay here is more passive. While there is a ton of fanservice, with over 1,000 cards (not counting the crazy cool mode where you can create your own cards) based on DB characters and forms, characters exclusive to Heroes, and versions of heroes not seen in the original manga and anime (SSJ4 Gohan anyone?), this is no fighting game. You set up your field of fighters, and the round plays itself out. There are sometimes little minigames where you charge up a super attack by rubbing the screen (in handheld mode) or making controller inputs, but for the most part, it’s setting up your field and watching fights play out. It’s fun building a team with two Jirens, a Frieza, and an Ultra Instinct Goku and watching them fight characters like Cell and Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta, but it can also get repetitive once you find a team you like and see a lot of the same battles play out).
For Story (which is fine and involves a plot where Dragon Ball Heroes characters show up in the real world), I’ve been using my same team, with the same strategies, winning in three rounds or less, which made the early part of the game a slog. It does get a bit more challenging with time, but if you want the hard battles, you need to go to the Arcade mode, which features a number of arcs (some are original to Dragon Ball Heroes; some are versions of actual DB canon), a few more challenging levels, and fun-yet-hard boss battles.
Overall, I’d say I like World Mission as a fun game to pick up once in a while, watch DB characters beat each other up, and enjoy a Japanese arcade experience on the go. For longer play sessions, the game can sometimes dip into monotony, but as far as fanservice-powered Dragon Ball spin-offs go, you could do a lot worse.