The Dragon Ball series has always been one of my many great obsessions in life. My adoration of the series did not come from the original anime, though, or the much more beloved sequel series, Dragon Ball Z. Even though I had an older brother who watched the series all time when I was a kid, my love of the franchise stems from the video games. So I was very keen to get my hands on the latest gaming entry from the series, Dragon Ball FighterZ

Of course the Dragon Ball Z Budokai series was my favorite fighting game series growing up. In fact Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 is one of my favorite games of all time. Even though I have enjoyed many of the Dragon Ball games since Budokai 3, none have been able to reach that level of quality for me. However all that appears to be changing soon, as I was able to test out the upcoming Dragon Ball fighting game called Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Gaining much hype through its E3 announcement last month, I was able to play FighterZ at Anime Expo in LA. Having played at least four matches, I can safely say that this latest entry in the Dragon Ball franchise may be the series best game since Budokai 3.

Though story details are scarce, and there were only six playable characters in the demo, everything about the game felt like the perfect Dragon Ball game. While the gameplay is incredible addictive, it is the game’s visual presentation that highlights the game’s biggest strength. It looks exactly like the anime. The shading and models of the characters are pitch-perfect recreations of what the characters look like in the anime. How they move and attack are lifted directly out of scenes from the series.

As a lifelong fan of the franchise, I cannot help but grin at every little reference. From Vegeta’s reenacting of his famous “Super Vegeta” quote from the anime, to seeing the move that Frieza uses to kill Krillin in the show, the attention to detail is impressive.

The gameplay is really solid, with most combos being easy to use. All the matches are fast paced and fun, every second is nothing but high-octane action. The character’s super moves are also visual spotlights of the game, with every super attack being as bombastic and awesome as they were in Z. Cell’s Perfect Kamehameha is a particularly marvelous thing to behold, having enough gravitas in its presentation to make the move genuinely terrifying.
My least favorite aspect of the demo, other than the fact that there are only six playable characters, is that it isn’t a normal one-on-one fighting game.

Instead it follows Marvel vs. Capcom approach of a team of three facing against another team of three characters. You can switch between the three characters during the match, and any character that is not fighting will recover some health over time. I never really cared much about controlling more than one character at a time in fighting games, yet I do dislike how my opponents would recover health when their fighters weren’t on the stage.

I always had issue switching out my characters during matches, so I rarely took advantage of the recovered health. My opponents will always do it, forcing me to watch my opponent’s characters get health back after I spent all that time taking them down.

Despite that misgiving, I am sure that once I have the full game in my hands and that I have more time with it, I will get over that small hurdle. Dragon Ball FighterZ is truly a phenomenal fighting game, that looks and feels like the anime that so many people love. I may have loved a lot of Dragon Ball games since Budokai 3; nonetheless I feel that FighterZ will create a new standard in the mega-franchise. Let’s hope that a beta will come out soon, so that many more fans can check this game out.