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Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden Demo Hits 3DS And It's Awesome

The Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden demo went live on the Nintendo 3DS eShop over the weekend, but you’ll have to do a bit of work if you want to actually track the thing down. It’s worth the effort, though, boasting four fighters, a collection of assist characters and five stages that give you an idea of the solid fighting action fans can expect out of the full release come Oct. 23.

In upsettingly traditional Nintendo fashion, you won’t find any mention of the Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden demo in last week’s regular eShop update. Heck, you won’t even find the demo if you go to the appropriate section within the eShop itself.

If you’re looking to check out the demo for yourself, you’ll just need to jump through a couple of hoops. First, head on over to the eShop and search for “Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden.” There should be exactly one entry, which leads you to the retail game’s regular page. At the top of that page is where you’ll find a button that downloads the actual demo. Congratulations, you thwarted Nintendo’s evil plan to hide a rad DBZ game from the masses.

I played the demo for an unreasonable number of hours over the weekend and have come away more eager than ever to dive into the full game later this fall. It won’t have online multiplayer, which is a real bummer, but a large cast of playable characters and loads of fan service should make this a big blip on the radar for Dragon Ball fans.

In case you needed any further convincing to at least give the demo a try, you should know that Extreme Butoden comes from the folks at Arc System Works. That’s the team behind more recent fighters like BlazBlue and Guilty Gear, so expect lots of fast combos and flashy specials.

The demo’s playable roster includes Goku, Gohan, Vegeta and Majin Buu. On the assists side, you can choose from a list including the likes of Korin (who drops a life-restoring senzu bean), as well as fighters like Recoome, Great Saiyaman and Tien, who pop onto the screen and deliver their own signature moves. The full game will boast a roster of more than 20 fighters, with another 80-plus support characters to collect. If they’ve appeared in the show, they probably make an appearance in this game.

Fights can be broken down into one-on-one showdowns (press start after selecting your main), three-on-three brawls (simply choose three characters), or you can pick a main character and up to four assists (hit L or R after choosing your main). After that, select a location ranging from Planet Namec, the desert and even the World Martial Arts Tournament stage, and get to punching dudes in the face.

Arc System Works has always been good about making accessible fighters that also offer a lot of depth. You’ll do just fine spamming attacks and calling in assists, but there are plenty of tricks to learn if you want to really dig in and get to know the game.

What’s interesting here is that basic combo commands and ultimate moves require the same commands for all characters, so you won’t need to memorize loads of inputs for each combatant. This keeps things nice and simple, but since each character behaves differently, there’s still plenty of variety between the fighters. Goku’s standard special attack, for instance, is a simple ki blast that launches across the screen. That same button causes Buu to fire a ki blast at a 45 degree angle while it makes Gohan charge forward with a flurry of strikes.

Each character also has a weak and strong attack and, coupled with the special button, you can create all sorts of combos to damage and juggle your opponent. Calling in an assist or swapping characters is as easy as tapping them on the lower screen, and you also have a sidestep button that lets you teleport behind your opponent for a free shot if you time it just right.

Landing attacks charges your power meter, or you can speed up that process by holding down the R button. Pressing an attack button while holding down L also unleashes a handful of unique attacks for each character.

Those are just some of the mechanics at play here, with additional systems like super attacks, super counters and Spark (helpful breakaway moves when you’re low on health) rounding out the option. I spent the weekend tooling around with all sorts of combinations of fighters to figure out how things work, but I assume the full game will have a tutorial mode of some sort. You can also hit the pause button mid-fight to get a nice rundown of your character’s moves and combo chains.

In short, I was very encouraged by what the Extreme Butoden demo hints at for the full game. Based on an SNES fighting series, the game maintains that colorful cartoon look while offering up animations and mechanics that just weren’t available back in the day. It’s probably fair to say that this game plays like I remember the Butoden series playing though the ‘90s, but I doubt those original games would actually hold up so well after a couple of decades of advancements for the fighting genre.

If nothing else, it’s nice to see another Dragon Ball fighter heading Stateside. Coupled with Xenoverse as well as the recent movies and the new Dragon Ball Super animated series, it’s a great time to be a fan of all things Saiyan.

Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.