Dragon Ball FighterZ is a dream project to many anime fans, a 2D fighting game with animation, style and gameplay to spare – along with the kind of ultimate moves that could light up the screen like a fireworks display.
But what would happen if other game developers had a crack at the Dragon Ball license? Game Informer, in the midst of covering exclusive FighterZ content for the month (since it’s on the publication’s cover for November), decided to ask a few select developers to see how Dragon Ball has influenced them, in one way or another.
Here’s some of the best answers we found in the article…
First up is Hidetaka “Swery65” Suehiro, who previously worked on the Deadly Premonition franchise. He was actually heavily influenced by the likes of Dragon Ball Z, noting, “The one takeaway I had from Dragon Ball growing up was there’s a part in the series where a character called Udon who received panties from God. Somewhere in there, that whole episode allowed me to understand that panties are not necessarily erotic. It means that everything is fine!” So, does that mean for his next effort, we’ll see panties pop up somewhere? Maybe Dragon Ball panties colored orange with stars on them? Hey, if Deadly Premonition can go oddball…why can’t Swery65’s next project?
Next up, Goichi Suda, the creator of the forthcoming No More Heroes follow-up for Nintendo Nintendo Switch, found plenty of inspiration from DBZ. “I may have subconsciously picked up inspiration from the Dragon Ball series. In the [Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes], there’s the console, the Death Drive MK-II, and the games for that console aren’t cartridges or CDs, they’re balls called “Death Balls.” Since the console and the games are sort of like a phantom console and phantom games, there’s really not that many in existence. There were only six games that were made for the console, and there’s only one copy for each of those games that exists, so if a player goes and collects all six of those game balls, they can have a wish granted, which is pretty much the same as Dragon Ball Z. I may have been subconsciously inspired by the whole Dragon Ball concept when I thought of that. Maybe if you collect all six balls, a huge tiger will appear or something. [laughs]”
The team behind the forthcoming Spider-Man game for PlayStation 4, Insomniac Games, had plenty to say with developer Shane McCloskey, who said, “Dragon Ball Z was the first anime I watched as a kid, I was absolutely captivated by the art style, the characters, and of course, the fights. If I were to get my hands on the Dragon Ball license today I would produce a linear story that would cover one saga, so it could have the production values of something like The Last of Us or Uncharted 4. In terms of the gameplay it would be similar to the Infamous titles, where the protagonist would be in the center of the screen when brawling or traversing. To use energy attacks, the player would hold the left trigger to shift the perspective to more of a third person shooter, from this mode the player would be able to unleash things like a simple ki blast up to a devastating Kamehameha, as long as their ki meter were filled the proper amount. Fighting games are definitely the best fit for the Dragon Ball license but I believe that the third person perspective could really help capture the feeling of what it is like to release a fully charged Kamehameha or slice Frieza in half.”
Katsuhiro Harada of Tekken fame, who also contributed with a little help for FighterZ, had plenty to say as well. “I haven’t worked in development of any of the titles in the Dragon Ball game series. This is just his opinion as a company employee of Bandai Namco, but more so, of me personally, that it is quite a unique case with the Dragon Ball series that originally started as a manga and IP itself, it actually was kind of complete at one point. Now we have the anime and it branched, and then there are games in between that. But to see that case where you have an IP that kind of concludes and then to have a game that comes out after that is kind of a rare case. You don’t see that, that often. And, in the meantime before the anime started, we had a series of games as well, so you can kind of say the popularity was broadened, at least for foreign audiences, and even kind of marinated a certain level of relevance even after the original IP finished, and then of course branching into the new anime.
“This time it is very exciting for me to be a part of the announcement of the title first for Dragon Ball FighterZ, and I was also able to give input on the game in particular. So being able to be involved with such an amazing and well known IP is very exciting.”
And Tekken was inspired by Dragon Ball in a way or two as well. “You can say that there was a major difference with western media in that Dragon Ball was the first to show in a visual aspect, you know, the Kamehameha, which was basically, to Eastern philosophy is something that is relatively known that you have this ki and the way you manifest it. Normally you wouldn’t be able to see it visually, but to take that and make it something you could visually recognize in manga and later in the anime – and not just that, but to see the Earth splitting or the smoke and effects that are created when you concentrate a power? These are all things that Dragon Ball was one of the first to show off and, not just Tekken, but a lot of Japanese games were probably influenced by the way you show this kind of power of a fighter. Even though in the West, they had Superman that could shoot lasers and stuff like that, this kind of visual way that the eastern arts showed off the Ki and how everything is displayed is kind of unique to Dragon Ball. Maybe Street Fighter wouldn’t even have a fireball if it wasn’t for Dragon Ball, or at least the way it was visually shown.”
Finally, Iron Galaxy, the developers behind Killer Instinct and DiveKick, had plenty to say through Adam Heart, a designer for the team. “Unpopular opinion but I’m actually not a big Dragon Ball fan. I just rewatched all through the cell games with my wife because she had never seen it, and it solidified my opinion that I really don’t like it. But I recognize its value as kind of a gateway anime to me. And it lead me to one of the things I love most in this world, which is One Piece. One Piece is my favorite thing on the planet, period. It’s just the best. It’s taught me a lot about mood, and storytelling, and comedy, and action, and diversity that I just wouldn’t be who I am as a person or a developer without.
“So I like Dragon Ball because it gatewayed me to stuff that I actually really do love. And I have soft spots for something things in Dragon Ball. I like Krillin a lot. I got a Krillin figure at my house. I’m going to be playing him in Dragon Ball FighterZ. I have it pre-ordered. Definitely playing him and Piccolo, I don’t know who my third is going to be, but I gotta play Gohan’s green dad. I’m definitely going to play him, because he’s the only character in the series who isn’t an idiot. Everyone in the series is just an idiot, and they make the worst possible decision at every turn, and I’m just like please kill me.