Dragon Ball FighterZ Switch Review – Portable Power Battles

Dragon Ball FighterZ Nintendo Switch Review

The Nintendo Switch is fast becoming the place people want every single game to end up. And why not? having a portable version of a game you love is a big bonus, so much so that people will wait for the Switch version to come out before buying the game. Of course, sometimes this means sacrificing certain elements of the game in exchange. Fortunately, Dragon Ball FighterZ has mostly made the jump to the Switch intact. The only thing the game appears to have inherited is a heaping helping of load times.

I can’t say for sure what the loading situation is like in other versions of the game, but good lord there is a lot of waiting involved here. Firing up the game, getting to the lobby, picking a mode, picking your fighters, and starting a match all come with loading screens. Getting to a fight in Story Mode is an absolute trial. Once you’re in the action, everything moves at a blistering pace, but there’s a lot of waiting to get there. It’s a shame there’s such a disparity between the fighting and the surrounding gameplay in terms of speed.

Battle With The Load Screen

The upside is that this game still plays like a dream, even using the Joy-Cons. I’ve had some troubles in this area with other fighting games on the Switch, but FighterZ performs admirably here. Quarter circle moves are pulled off with ease, and the inputs are delightfully responsive. Part of this is thanks to the game’s simpler control scheme. FighterZ has a combat system that adapts well to the Joy-Cons, with player skill and reflexes deciding a fight’s outcome rather than elaborate combos. It’s this ease of access that keeps the battles – online or offline – moving crazy fast. There’s actually something of an adjustment phase when you first start playing. If you’re used to more technical fighters, it’ll take a couple of rounds before you get in the groove, so to speak. But before long, you’ll be letting off super moves and crazy combos at lightning speed.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play enough of the online component to get a proper feel for how well it works. For whatever reason, I spent most of the time just waiting for a match. Eventually, I figured out which lobbies had the shortest wait, and I was able to get some thorough ass-kickings in. After a few fights, I found I much preferred the offline combat. At least there, the brief wait periods were punctuated by the occasional victory. For me, online battles are a wasteland of bruised egos and brutal losses. On the flip side, online battles are never boring. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Beyond the load times, this version of FighterZ is all I could ask for. Most of my time was spent languishing in the story mode, which is an exercise in indulgence. There, the difficulty ramps up slowly, with your experience level playing a factor in your success. Once you get into the rhythm of the load screens you can really enjoy yourself. Arcade mode goes from basic to brutal very fast, which is fun in a different way. Honestly, I’d rather get by on the skin of my teeth than just endlessly dominate a handicapped AI.

Pretty Good Portable Power Battles

There’s a ton of characters to mess around with, and I actually enjoyed using more or less all of them. This is kind of a huge deal for me. Usually, fighting games have a handful of characters I can work with. FighterZ is built in such a way that you can just pick your favorite character and go nuts. The simple controls are both a blessing and a curse. No character will prove too much for you, but no one will really challenge you either. These aren’t identical fighters or palette swaps by any means, but I never found myself overly frustrated by anyone I tried out. I still gravitated towards Goku though.

I’m at a bit of an impasse here. On the one hand, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a real blast from top to bottom. Every mode is fun in one way or another, all the characters are accessible and interesting, and the controls have just the right level of depth. On the other hand, those load times are utterly heinous. It’s not so much that they’re long, it’s just that there are so many loading screens. Even a ten second load time is unbearable if you repeat it often enough. It all comes down to how important portability is to you. If you’re a Switch owner, you probably put a pretty hefty premium on portability. And honestly, the game’s performance is otherwise exemplary. For me, the load times and the game’s performance make this a good experience in short doses. If you want epic, fast-paced combat in a portable package, definitely give Dragon Ball FighterZ a chance.

***A retail copy was provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Graphics look great in either mode
  • Online plays well
  • Joy-Con controls are smooth

The Bad

  • Lot of load times
  • Online lobby is a little lonely
  • Story mode takes a while to ramp up