So it’s finally happened. The MMO genre has gotten so godforsakenly large that every game developer/publisher and their mothers think they can produce a smash hit and rake the mounds of cash in. And its hard to argue with them. With World of Warcraft breaching the 11 million players mark just a couple weeks back and competitors such as Warhammer Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic on the horizon, its no surprise a lot of companies are trying their hand at competing with the best.
However, as time has shown, the beast that is WoW will not go down easily, if it ever does. Yet, Namco Bandai (huh?) is taking their turn with hopes that a predominant anime series cultivates enough of a following to give them an edge over Blizzard. The series? Dragonball.
What? Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder? They’re making an MMO with hopes that a manga/anime, which hasn’t seen new content in over a decade, will attract enough gamers to produce a viable experience? An anime, mind you, that had poor animation and ridiculous, asinine, repeating storylines that only a ten year old could find entertaining. Now, don’t start flaming the forums yet. Dragonball, as a series, was a building block for many modern animes, as well as a pioneer in japanamation in the western world. I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t know who Goku, Frieza, Vegeta and Majin Buu are, but then again, I was also a ten-year-old action-addicted kid when the episodes were being dubbed into English. And it was that fast paced action and glitzy transformation that mesmerized me as a boy, even leaving a soft spot in its wake, though one that has been rapidly hardening over the years.
Yet, as I stumbled upon Dragonball Online (boy, do I love the originality there), I became slightly intrigued. Now, in terms of gameplay, I have yet to read anything groundbreaking or innovative, which is a hard thing to do in an MMO. However, in order to take down a giant like WoW, a game must create a new spin on an old product in order to attract a gamer base, an aspect Dragonball Online has yet to show.
As details get slowly released from overseas, much of the news is mediocre at best. Watching footage from the gameplay vidoes (see: Dragonball Online Trailer + Gameplay), players can choose from three different races – Namekian (Piccolo), Human and Majin, which are pink, demonic looking creatures. Each race offers only two classes, which simply breakdown to fighter and healer. The human does offer one extra class, revolving around technology, such as the character Bulma from the series, yet, two classes does not offer much depth, and I hardly see this game remaining interesting without a quick fix to that.
Although DBO may not exhibit such innovation (see: Fighter and Healer. Really?), it does stay true to Dragonball’s fast paced action, over the top energy blasts, and high flying tactics; combat is exhilaratingly swift. This rapid style offers many options concerning PvP, especially with the added air combat. We’ve seen all this before in the past three, four, or five past DBZ games, and those were amazingly fluid and we’re not turn based, something that, in my opinion, will hinder the flow of combat that Dragonball is known for.
Thankfully, Akira Toriyama has had a strong creative hand in character design and plot development, a diamond in Dragonball Online’s rough. I hope we’re not left out in the cold on this one, since the beta has been open overseas in Korea and Japan for some time now, and there’s been no news of release for us westerners. We’ll have to wait and see.
Oh, on a side note, is this a joke?
Dragonball: The Movie: The Game?