Like many nerds of a certain age, I grew up with Dragon Ball Z in my ecosystem. I was never much of a mega-nerd over it, but I have been enjoying the recent Dragon Ball Super series. When given the opportunity to check out a dice game around the property, I was pretty interested.
Last November, IDW Games announced that it would be partnering up with Toei Animation for a series of games built around the franchise. The Dragon Ball Z: Perfect Cell dice game is the very first product of that alliance, and I have to say that if this is a sample of what’s to come, I’m excited for what’s next.
In this game, 1-4 players take on the role one of the “Z-Fighters” (the good guys) to collectively take on Cell (the bad guy). For the uninitiated, Cell is an android designed to be the perfect fighting machine. He’s come from an alternate future where he’s killed everyone already and has decided to go back and kill everyone when they were younger. ‘Cause why not, right?
You select one of six fighters from the show as your persona. They each have a slight advantage in gameplay, which is neat. You then take five dice of a color of your choosing and get started. Each fighter only has six life points (or five if you’re Goku), and Perfect Cell has seventy. The rolling of dice can be used for a multitude of purposes: you can effectively block Cell’s attacks, upgrade your fighter to increase the throughput of damage through the dice, save up to summon the Dragon God for some good ol’ healing, or just cold-cock Cell.
Suffice it to say, it’s really difficult going in for solo plays, and the game seems to be more designed for the 2-4 window of players. Over the course of the game, Cell gets abilities added to his four available slots. You can spend dice to deactivate them before Cell gets to use them, but anything that doesn’t get deactivated sticks around as even abilities more are added. For 2-3 players, it’s easy to mitigate; it doesn’t impact 4 players as much; but for solo games, it becomes the main focus, not allowing much time to deal damage back to Cell. In my solo playthrough, I was knocked out in round 4. It was awesome.
The asymmetry of the personas, the ability to upgrade said personas, and the general multifaceted usage of the dice made the game surprisingly fun. My only gripes are literally cosmetic: the grid backgrounds sometimes made it difficult for first-time players to understand what elements of the game were important for gameplay and what parts were just for looks. I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t like the looks, though. The game has great table presence.
IDW Games has announced that Dragon Ball Z: Perfect Cell will be available for purchase in March of this year. If you are a fan of Dragon Ball Z, this is actually something you might want to pick up as it was pretty simple to grok and a lot of fun. Between the 1-4 player range and with six separate personas to choose from, there’s a lot of replayability. I’m looking forward to what else IDW Games and Toei Animation have to offer from this new partnership.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.