The world of Dragon Ball has continued to grow over the last few years, especially with the Dragon Ball Super series. That being said, Bandai Namco went a different direction with the series growth with Dragon Ball Online, later introducing the Xenoverse series. Adding the Time Patrollers and historic anomalies gave a fresh way to play with the series timeline. That being said, it’s introduced a ton of extra source material that may be overwhelming to those that only watched the main series. Enter Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission, a game that uses that existing world growth and goes even further into insanity.
Dragon Ball Heroes is an arcade card game that utilizes the history of the entire Dragon Ball series. Players would have decks of up to five characters and compete in turn-based battles lasting no more than five rounds. Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission takes it up to seven characters in a deck, allowing even more characters on the field. On paper, it sounds like a Yu-Gi-Oh duel, but in reality, it’s more like the airport fight scene in Captain America: Civil War. It can get a little over-the-top, but it sort of adds to the charm of the game. Using a variety of quick time events, players can charge, transform, fuse and more.
The playing field is made up of four sections. In the back is the support area, where character cards can stay to rest up and recover stamina. The other three sections make up the attack area. Being closer to the support area means taking less damage, but it also means dealing less damage too. Likewise, being closer to the opponent means dealing more damage, but also sustaining more as well. During attacks, characters will fly towards their opponents and players will stop the Charge Impact gauge, a fast-moving meter to determine if an attack is successful or not. It’s simple, yet the cards used will make quite the difference, as they carry the true depth to the game.
There are over 1,000 character cards in the game, representing several variations, forms and timelines. They’ll each have a set HP, Power and Guard level, balanced out in a way that can potentially validate any card. Just like Goku picking teammates in the Tournament of Power, picking characters in a deck can take some thought. While it might be tempting to fill your deck with several Super Saiyan 4 characters, they might not be an efficient team. It might be better to balance out a mix of strong characters with some that work better as support. This is where abilities come into play, which can make or break the game.
Abilities can work a number of ways. For example, adult Gohan can be left in the support area for a round and slow down the Charge Impact meter during your attack phase. Another ability could be something like Super Saiyan 4 Goku’s power quadrupling in the third round. Abilities can even cause additional damage, like adding an extra special attack or even a devastating counter. My favorite ones are the abilities that turn the tide of a close battle, as those could make for some truly engaging moments.
In one battle I had during the story, I wasn’t doing very well, and had to rely on these abilities heavily. The opposing Goku had actually killed me, but due to an ability on one of my Gohan cards, I was given a second chance. I revived the team, giving a handful of health points back. It went to the next round and my opponent had a higher power level, allowing them to attack first. I successfully won the Charge Impact duels and defended myself down to 1 HP. The opponent had a second attack, but my Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta unleashed his counterattack. I managed to damage the opponent down to 1 HP as well, and the turn was now mine. Suddenly, my Goku card activates his God Kamehameha attack, and I finish the opponent in stylish fashion. The game can get really intense, but also really spectacular.
While the visuals on display can definitely be described as a spectacle, one of the bigger downsides to the game is the graphical quality. Super Dragon Ball Heroes is a port of an arcade game, so it’s not unusual for the graphics to be of lower quality. That being said, there are still moments that fill unacceptable. Clipping low-poly character models, low resolution textures, not to mention a lack of mouth movements during cutscenes. The presentation takes a hit, but again, given the source, a huge visual upgrade wasn’t expected. The anime cutscenes are a nice plus though, even if brief. It’s honestly a surprise this game made it outside of Japan in the first place.
Being an obscure spin-off of the franchise, it’s understandable that Bandai Namco didn’t want to fully localize Super Dragon Ball Heroes. The game does have English text for the story and menus, but that’s mostly it. Some screens, especially victory screens and gameplay, have voice-overs with no subtitles. It’s likely not necessary to enjoy the game, but sometimes I’d like to know what’s being said. Sometimes you’ll be in a battle hearing extremely excited Japanese dialogue, but at least the energy is there. It’s unfortunate that Funimation wasn’t able to offer their fantastic voice cast to give an English track, but it’s a small complaint. At least the music is fun and energetic.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission has a pretty meaty story mode, one that will last dozens of hours. Even if you just go for main missions to progress the plot, the story is still fairly long. Add the side missions, dimensional rifts and even side chapters, and you’ll be busy for a long time. The story involves a new villain, Sealas, the first member of the Time Patrol, as he tries to bring his own justice to the universe. This means changing the past, undoing events, and even introducing non-canon elements. This disruption eventually makes its way to a universe where Super Dragon Ball Heroes is just a game.
Players will take the role of a young Super Dragon Ball Heroes player and eventually become recruited into a team. This team, also known as the Dragon Ball Heroes, is formed of special individuals that showed compatibility with a “Hero Switch”. This device allows characters to enter the game world, but more importantly, allows them to fight. Things start to get super convoluted, but it’s not difficult to keep up. It’s mostly that you’ll be dealing with so many characters that one would wonder if it was necessary. One moment, you’ll be fighting Majin Buu, and the next, you’re fighting Gotenks and Pan. You basically have to take all the common sense and accept that it was thrown out the window. I don’t want to spoil things, but the story gets pretty involved.
As you progress the story, your character will level up and get stronger. They’ll earn the ability to do transformations, and even unlock new abilities. Increasing comradarie with certain character cards can help to pursue this further. During some battles, you may even be able to score a Super Dragon Ball. Collecting all seven allows for the player to grant a wish, giving them a big boost in progression. This is repeatable, though sometimes collecting the Super Dragon Balls can be quite the task. Other bonus events show up on battles and can be fun from time to time too.
Lengthy story aside, players will also have access to an arcade mode, covering all the arcs of the arcade game. These offer challenging battles and can offer some nice rewards. The arcade mode can even allow players to capture a card from the opposing team. Battles will have special missions involved for an Ultra or even Legendary completion. These missions pose an extra challenge for those who seek it, but sometimes they ask a little much. Ending a match with a perfect Charge Impact metered attack for example is almost too tricky. It’s also easy to forget these challenges, as I often wished pausing the game would show me a reminder.
Players can also take the battle online, which offers normal matches as well as ranked ones. Odds are, you’ll come across players with high-end decks, making attempts pretty formidable. Even so, it just takes the right deck and strategy, and maybe a little luck with the CI meter, to win. Arcade mode and Online modes have one major restriction that makes them different from the Story mode. Players can’t use custom cards.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes offers the ability to make custom cards, which can be fun for the creative type. Not only can you make a character card using custom assets, but you can also adjust their abilities. The ability adjustment is likely the best part, as this is what determines how effective the card will be. Even if you want to modify existing cards, adjusting abilities can be a life-saver. Maybe you want to give a character a double attack power? Or maybe even give a boost to their stats. There are tons of possibilities, especially when you buy these options form the in-game shop.
The shop offers a variety of things. From items that can help you in the story to custom card assets, there are a lot of options. Most notably however, is the card gacha shop. This is where players can redeem tickets to get new cards. With over 1,000 cards available, this can make it difficult to get the card you want. Luckily, all the cards are separated into different pools to draw from. It’s still a luck of the draw, but at least it doesn’t cost real money. On that note, in-game currency seems to be a little imbalanced. Items in the shop are pretty expensive compared to how little money you get as a reward. Even using items to boost your prize money still doesn’t give a lot.
Overall, Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is a fun game for fans of the Dragon Ball multiverse. The battles can be incredibly fun to watch, though they can also get repetitive. The story is packed full of content, which likely can take over 100 hours to finish everything. The graphics may not be up to par with a traditional game, but it gets the job done. This is an obviously wacky product straight from Japanese arcades, and it’s not afraid to show it. That being said, it’s a content-filled blast full of strategy and over-the-top action.