Otaku USA Magazine
Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team



Times sure have changed. Thanks to Dragon Ball Z‘s unrelenting popularity, we now get pretty much every single DBZ-related game in North America rather than none. The upside to this is that the games are much better nowadays than they were over a decade ago. Long-time fans of the series might recall when they first tried their hands at virtual Saiyan-slapping on Super Nintendo, or maybe PSone. Those were the kinds of sad import affairs you had to choke down and force into some kind of salvageable cultural experience where the language is weird and the anime fighting games don’t play quite right by design.


At some point they figured it out, and by and large DBZ games have been more than tolerable, they’ve been pretty darn enjoyable. There’s certainly something to be said for the visual polish of the Xbox 360/Playstation 3 entries, and the motion-controlled spin on Wii versions of the Budokai Tenkaichi series offered up a fresh way to fight Frieza for the thousandth time. It’s too bad, then, that Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team—while passable in most respects—doesn’t offer up something truly fresh of its own.


What it does offer up is another opportunity to personally battle through the Dragon Ball Z storyline. If that sounds like something you’ve done many times before—and it just might be—then you’ll be hitting the X button to skip dialogue like your life depends on it. The story mode of Tenkaichi Tag Team may have been something worth savoring if not for the bland presentation. Save for the occasional still frame from the series that pops up at key moments, it mostly has you cycling through voiceless dialogue against the backdrop of the game’s RPG-lite overworld.

The combat will end up being The Big Decider for folks on the fence. On one hand, it’s admirably streamlined. Players needn’t pull off anything extravagant to finish their foes with a screen-blasting kamehameha. It’s easy to pick up despite the lacking tutorial, and most enemies can be bested with similar tactics. Unfortunately, since the main story battles are slavish to the show’s narrative, the mechanics begin to wear more quickly than they should. It’s one thing to thrash against the buttons, whittling away at a multi-layered energy bar until it’s game over for the bad guys; that’s fine, that’s what I signed up for. It loses its flair, however, when said baddies continue to rise from the earth with renewed layers of energy. Rinse, repeat, put it down for the rest of the day with an exhausted sigh.



This brings us to the major addition that Tenkaichi Tag Team brings to the table. It’s right there in the title, but does it warrant such a pronounced presence? While it can’t be said that tag teams add nothing to the DBZ fighting formula, they sure don’t add much. Their inclusion in the single-player story mode would be borderline superfluous if not for the fact that it’s kind of nice to have another hot-blooded broham trading blows with your enemies by your side; takes some of the pressure off you and your aching thumbs.


What you’re left with is simply another Dragon Ball Z fighting game. Your mileage may vary on just how important that is to have in your pocket at all times. Personally, I enjoyed it in spurts, but I realize it was simply for the ability to bust out some quick brawls, and ultimately had nothing to do with any of the additions specific to this iteration. It might be worth a spin if you have some friends with PSPs willing to rock the ad-hoc wireless multiplayer on a regular basis.


Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
System: Playstation Portable
Available: Now
Rating: T