by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I’ve been waiting for the Super Dragon Ball Heroes franchise to come to America for nearly a year. The Super Dragon Ball Heroes franchise is a series of card-based arcade cabinets in Japan, but now it’s here in America on the Switch and PC! That means I don’t have to drive three (to possibly 13) hours to find a cabinet to play on! What a beautiful day this is. The story takes place in Hero Town, where the Dragon Ball characters are all part of a popular card game, using a set-up that genuinely feels like Yugioh’s digital dueling system. But mysterious events occur, and the Dragon Ball heroes and villains have broken free of their digital shackles! I can’t say too much more about the story, but I will say it’s a very Dragon Ball story. It has all of the ridiculousness, insane power levels, and all the characters you remember (and many that are brand new to America).
Conceptually, I adore this game. Super Dragon Ball Heroes has a ton of characters that have only been in Fan Fiction up until this point. Super Sayain 4 Gohan? Got it. Super Sayain 4 Broly? Yup, he’s here too. If you can think of some wild nonsense, there’s a fair chance it will appear in this game. If that’s not good enough for you, if having access to hundreds of powerful Dragon Ball characters isn’t quite for you, you can also create your own cards! It costs Zenny, and you’ll need to grind to unlock the really good options for your cards, but you can build your dream Dragon Ball cards, and it’s really such a cool system. The tutorial for its a little long-winded, but it tells you everything you need to know. I wish the battle tutorial taught me everything I needed. The battleground has four lanes, with the final back row being where characters regenerate their stamina. The further forward they are, the more stamina they use, but the tutorial does not go over how this affects Power Levels. In most cases, I just pushed everyone forward, keep characters that can regenerate stamina on the board, and push a few characters to the back row, and swap as needed.
The meat and potatoes of this game is in the battle itself. Each player has 7 character cards, that can be equipped with other abilities in order to increase their overall stats. Each character will fall into rarity categories (1-4, 4 being highest) but there are also Promo Cards and Event Cards, which are their own rarity. There are three “battle types”, but there are so many copies of characters, that you can find one for whichever character you feel like. There’s Hero Type (Well Balanced), Elite Type (Stamina-Oriented), and Berserker Type (Damage-Oriented). No matter what you prefer, they’re available for sure.
I feel like it’s a good idea to balance your team between these three types, but my favorite is Stamina-Oriented. I want to get rid of/keep down my foes Stamina as much as possible. Even if you go first (the player who fields the highest power level goes first that turn), It becomes very important to balance who is attacking when, to get characters that have team-up abilities attacking/defending together (which can be seen in the card details), and not leaving low-stamina characters vulnerable. Characters that have no Stamina can’t do anything in battle, and if they’re stuck out in the field, they can’t defend themselves during the key battle mechanic, Clash Impact.
Clash Impact is what affects the vast majority of how well a battle goes, and it’s random! Clash Impact occurs when attack/defense for either team goes out. Characters attack in groups of two (except the 7th character, if all 7 attacks as one), and after the initial melee/ki attack goes out, a pair of meters pop up, moving at a fairly high speed. Hitting A Button will stop the meter, and whichever play has it higher wins. Winning also gains Hero Points, which is a small blue meter that goes up on a point-by-point basis. Your characters’ Special Attacks require X amount of Hero Points, and if they attack and win their clash when you have the right amount of points, they’ll declare that special attack! The fights are pretty long though – this is partially due to damage not being very high in the early game, and also thanks to all the mini-games. There are “so” many mini-games. This is a very Japanese game, after all.
Certain characters can Fuse, activate special passives, chase down opponents, or utilize special, hard-hitting attacks (God Kamehameha) seemingly at random. Most of these will require a brief mini-game, like swiping up and down or side to side very fast, tracing a “G” on the screen, things like that. They’re very easy to do, but they’re time-consuming and after a while, tedious. They start to wipe me out after a few battles, so I find myself only playing Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission in short bursts – a few fights here and there. I love the new characters, I enjoy the visuals of the game, but one of the downsides, is while the cards for this game are absolutely stunning, you don’t get many opportunities to really admire just how cool the cards themselves look (better than the in-game models, if I’m honest).
How do you get more cards though? This was an arcade game after all, so it has Gacha Tickets! You can acquire Rare and Normal Gacha tickets, which give you a spin on a machine at the shop. You can also acquire more accessories this way, with a separate system (so you don’t have to worry about rolling for a rare character and getting a Scouter). Thankfully, when you’re hunting for something in the Gacha Rolls, you can pick what you’re after – regular Super Dragon Ball Heroes, or if there’s a special promotion, you can choose to roll from those choices. I haven’t received any doubles yet, and you can also see every single card that is potentially dropped, as well as what it does (and if you have it already). It’s a nice system, it has no option for real money that I’ve seen, so while it is a grind, this is a single-player game, so it’s up to you how hard you farm. There are online/local battles too, but the primary game is the single-player story. Another fun online option though, you can create your own battles and upload them for other players to tackle. This is just a cool feature, and while I haven’t uploaded any battles, I’ve really considered making a mission to throw into the void.
Makafushigi Adventure: 3.5/5
From capturing the Super Dragon Balls, plenty of story elements to discover, infinite possibilities with deck builds, and a fun story, Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission brings a lot for Dragon Ball fans to sift through. I can’t see non-Dragon Ball fans enjoying it in quite the same way, but that’s fine. The constant pauses in battle for an attack, defense, special abilities, and mini-games are very tiresome, but the actual visuals and the manifold ways you can set up a team really makes up for that. It’s a cool game with a ton to offer for fans of the series, and the biggest draw to me is the massive amount of non-canon characters in the game. It blew my mind to see SSJ Gohan and SSJ3 Vegeta.
There are tons of things Western fans have likely never seen before (unless they’ve read/watched Super Dragon Ball Heroes anime/manga), and it’s so damn cool. However, battle can feel very deflating, and some of the challenges for stages (EG: win every Challenge Impact) are intensely frustrating. Challenge Impact feels very random and hard to time, so I’ve had stages I had to replay five or six times, just to succeed in a challenge. It’s a fun game, but can be bogged down by the redundant and overwhelming amount of mini-games in each battle. I still play it, but I have to take it in doses. Despite this, it’s still an authentic, fun Dragon Ball experience, and I’m glad it finally came to American shores.
Note: A physical copy was sent for the purposes of this review.