Review by Shirow

Reviewed: 02/13/02 | Updated: 11/09/02

This review lacks in Orochiness

Dragon Ball Z : Hot Battle ! The Androids is the sequel to Freeza, The Planet Destroyer. Understand by this that Freeza's brother, Coola, comes to earth to avenge his brother. Yet again, the story is taken directly from anime with all the androids -16,17,18 and Cell- trying to come to terms with Goku and all his friends. All the warriors are in the game, including Vegeta although you still cannot really control him when he fights alongside any of the other warriors. The anime fans will rejoice at Trunk's presence although he can be used for a short time only but the story is still being respected.

This third DBZ actually has more RPG elements than the first 2. As a note, DBZ1 & 2 didn't really have the requirements to be real RPGs. The game system which involved the DBZ cards made it fall into the category as well as the way battles had to be handled but otherwise, you couldn't find any of those elements which usually make RPGs.

While the game system is still the same since Bandai would not take the risk of screwing it, it has been tweaked to make this DBZ3 very RPG-friendly. However, some changes are a drawback as they make the game awkward at certain points and others will just annoy you. In plain English, some changes are GOOD while some are BAD. Here is a run-down of these changes à la Masters :

~Battles now take place more quickly. The characters no longer move about so much and they quickly perform their actions and get off-screen rapidly for the next attack. This is a GOOD thing.

~But sometimes, you don't even know what the hell is going on and have to wait until you are at the menu again to see how much damage your characters have taken. This is a BAD thing but not much.

~The item cards have disappeared. Instead, cards' lower symbols determine whether you'll get an option after you've moved the set number of squares. As it is, you can be extremely low on HP nad not be able to cure yourself simply because the damn card doesn't show up. This is a BAD thing.

~Thought that was bad enough ? If you are forced to fight upon moving, the card doesn't turn to give you the option you've been waiting for. This makes it WORSE.

~Instead of specific cards to be able to pull off KI attacks, these are now determined by your character's favorite cards. Once you've chosen that card for a character, he can choose to perform a damaging KI technique and he even has the possibility to throw a fireball which deosn't require any BE. And yes, this is a GOOD thing.

~The visuals during special attacks are astonishingly crisp and battles in general benefit from excellent light effects. This is a GOOD -and nice- thing.

~Mini-games too are accessed through cards. A couple of new mini-games have been introduced while some are just variations of older ones. Again, this is a BAD thing since you can no longer go to a place where you're sure you'll get a mini-game to level up.

~Levelling-up is no longer a drag. As a matter of fact, there are even alternatives and mini-games do give you a lot of Battle Points now (the only problem is trying to get into these). My rants about the prequels have finally been heard, what a GOOD thing.

~You can only control 3 characters although you team can consist of up to 7 characters depending on the event. The other characters will show up at random before the fighters start attacking and will perform a special attack. This is NICE as some characters tend to pull quite damaging attacks. Chaozu rules everybody here.

~Once your characters are much stronger than the enemies, battles take place differently. If you have chosen Manual as battle system, you get to select cards only before the battles start and your characters will then fight. The battles aren't like the normal ones as you'll see everyone flying about on the map and attacking or defending. While the battles may look funny, this system sucks because you can't even heal your characters when they're low on HP and you can't have them pull special attacks when you want to. This isn't a GOOD thing, it's a BAD thing.

~The only healing items in the game are the Senzu Beans and these can only be obtained from event mini-games. This BAD thing makes me want to CRY. Thankfully, these minigames are easy.

These changes contribute to give the third title in the series a unique atmosphere but at the same time, some just make the game worse than its prequels in several points. The fun is still here but a few changes will perhaps make you regret the older titles.

DBZ3 is, thankfully, a giant leap over its prequel in the graphics department. The world map is excellent will distinctive trees, mountains and lakes while the characters are well-drawn and fully detailed now. Most importantly, the backgrounds during the battles now look good and the special effects with your characters and opponents' faces showing below are spectacular.

The music is more varied now but is not as enjoyable as in the prequels. Still, you won't get annoyed with the same themes playing on all the time in Hot Battle, so that's quite a GOOD thing. The battle theme is particularly cool and suits its event perfectly. The sound effects are as splendid too but truthfully, there are not a handful of those in the game.

Maybe DBZ RPG titles are supposed to be short…At least, that's what it seems because this third title is even shorter than is prequels. Actually, this may not be quite true but since you had to spend hours levelling-up in the prequels and you no longer need to do so here, it does seem short. And it IS short. The only way of making it last longer is to move around the map like a complete jerk, trying to get the Mini-game Cards.

It also lacks replay value and suffers from an incomplete ending. I actually could not believe I had completed the game the first time I beat it and thought the screen had frozen or something. Well, that's not much of a problem but it did annoy me, specially since I was expecting so much from it.

Dragon Ball Z : Hot Battle! The Androids provides a few changes compared to its prequels but some of these are not necessarily good. Instead of having to choose between Walking and Flying, the only option is Flying. So, you can go practically anywhere although you cannot fly over mountains. Moreover, the new item system is a real pain in the ass. It's a title worth checking out but if you have played any of the prequels, chances you will not like it are pretty high. Otherwise, start here and forget about the rest.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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