Dragonball Z: Burst Limit, Review and Comparison to Dick’s Cinematic Combat System


Early fighting games had one status, a life gauge, and it only went one way: down. Some other fighters added another layer in the form of an energy/rage gauge. That too usually only went up until filled to max, then you can use some devastating ability. Dragonball Z: Burst Limit not only employs a third gauge, but the ones apart from the health gauge are freely dynamic, filling and depleting depending on action. This is a lot like my earlier-drafted cinematic combat system.

DBZ Burst Limit has a “ki” gauge and a fatigue gauge. The ki gauge isn’t something that fills just once a battle; you might actually fill it a dozen times or more, or you may never fill it if you keep on using ki gradually rather than waiting for it to go to full. If you go to full, then you can do some special moves.

Otherwise, you can use ki one “bar” at a time. The most important way, for my purposes, to use a bar of ki is by performing a teleport counter, or TC.

TC happens like it does in the cartoon. One character vanishes from view and instantly ends up in another location. The idea is the character moves so fast you can’t see him. Here is a youtube video that shows teleport counters at some points. You might want to skip to 1:20 for the second round. Watch for when one player is instantly behind the other player. That is a TC.

Practically any one attack your opponent can do is avoidable with a simple 2-button combination. However, the TC doesn’t come without its prices. Ki being one, fatigue being another.

Fatigue is something you don’t want to fill. Get hit, use TC or use a regular dodge and your character gets fatigued. Get fully fatigued and you’re incapacitated for a moment, left wide open for a super move. Rest or transform and you become less fatigued.

This relates directly to my cinematic combat system. The gauges are freely dynamic, filling and depleting depending on action. This is exactly what I meant in the other posts by “variable statuses.” Combat isn’t a matter of constantly losing health until one side has zero. Instead, you have choices. As I mentioned, any one attack can be avoided. If ki and fatigue were not an issue in Burst Limit, you could go mostly unharmed forever. But, you can’t due to limitations. You have to decide what’s more important to you at any given moment: ki, fatigue or health, or maybe there is a way to prevent losing any of the three. The ultimate break in a fight is if you can get your opponent to no ki and max fatigue while you’re at max ki.

Similarly, in my cinematic combat system, you might trade stamina for balance, or maybe the other way around. You try to edge your character to a position where he’s able to do some real damage while trying not to leave yourself open. Get your opponent in a bad position with you in a relatively good position and you win.

This is why DBZ Burst Limit is an anti-fighting game. Most fighting games either have you cram “quarter-circle punch” haduken combos into your muscle memory, or they have you memorize long strings of combos which, if you opponent gets caught in one, take a half-minute to complete, usually what nothing your opponent can do about it. Both of those suck, which is why I’m happy to report DBZ Burst Limit has neither of them. There are semi-long strings of combos you can do, but with moves like teleport counter, you have ways to get out of them (but, as mentioned above, there are costs). The last fighter I played before this one was Tekken 3. At one point I thought it would almost be neat to learn all those 15-button-long combos for Chun Li, I mean Ling Xiaoyu, but then I realized that would require a ton of effort for something that’s about as cool as being really good at eating cereal.

This reminds me of real-time strategy (RTS) games. Being really good at many of the popular RTS’s, like Starcraft, means you’re a son-of-a-gun at micro-management. Doesn’t anyone realize how shitty of a skill that is? You’re basically training yourself to be Bill Lumberg, the coffee mug-toting asshole of a boss who needs to constantly annoy the people on the ground who actually doing work. I’d like to see a RTS game where you delegate, where the champs are good at macro-management.


Moving from that, here are some general comments on the game.

Almost every review I’ve read on Burst Limit listed short storyline cut-scenes as a negative, stating “the player who doesn’t know DBZ won’t know enough of what’s going on.” That’s idiotic. While DBZ is legendary for having whole episodes where nothing happens, you’re still trying to cram the rest of almost 200 episodes (read that as 4000 hours) into cut-scenes. The cut-scenes could be 10 times as long and you still wouldn’t know what’s going on if you didn’t otherwise. More to the point, you would have much greater problems than that, ones that actually deal with gameplay. For example, you wouldn’t have any idea to use Goku’s Kaioken transformation from the fight with Nappa to the first fight with Frieza.

I’m not one to be impressed by graphics, but I have to admit I am very impressed in this instance. It’s like watching the show.

The drama pieces are OK, but, as most other reviewers have mentioned, you should be able to skip them. Nothing like sitting through 2 minutes of cut-scenes on your 50th attempt at a battle, only to fail and know you’ll have to do it again.

Every other reviewer whines about -only- 21 characters. Whatever. Those 21 are well done and well balanced.

Online play should be the bread and butter but is a bitch instead. Maybe there’s something I don’t understand, but you’ve got 2 options: search for any match (could be someone from Japan, where you’re bound to have a lagtastic experience) or search for a match with criteria so specific that you’re guaranteed to not find one. You can’t search, for example, for drama pieces off with no preference for any other criteria. There’s no “any” option for something as trivial as round length. Instead, you get 4 time lengths and then a “random” option. Pick any one and you’re doomed to find nothing, since you have to be just as specific about a few more criteria. It’s crappy and I can’t believe there hasn’t been a patch by now to fix it.

Another thing that bothers me, and this standard for the fighting genre, is how being flat on your back is the absolute safest position. This is as far away from real combat (even DBZ combat) as is possible.

All in all, if you like DBZ, you should like Burst Limit. However, if you’re married to the inane concept of mindlessly learning to execute long strings of combos, you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you think dynamic combat with many different ways to approach the same problem is appealing, this game has something to offer.

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