Dragon Ball FighterZ has finally arrived on Nintendo Switch. After launching on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC earlier this year, Arc System Works' anime fighter has come to Nintendo's console/handheld hybrid. The version that Nintendo Switch owners are getting is largely the same as the other consoles. There's not even much of a visual downgrade despite the Switch's less impressive technical prowess. Dragon Ball FighterZ is about as seamless a port as can be imagined.
The identical nature of the Switch port is mostly a blessing. Dragon Ball FighterZ's frenetic and gorgeously animated gameplay is second to none and the Switch doesn't sacrifice anything in translation. Unfortunately the Switch game also inherits the same pratfalls of its console brethren. As strong as Dragon Ball FighterZ's core mechanics are, they're still weighed down by some very poor online functionality.
The elements of the fighting game genre that Dragon Ball FighterZ does well though it does extremely well. The gamers who will get the most of FighterZ are the Dragon Ball fans. The game is a complete love letter to the series. There's such a clear level of respect and admiration for the source material. At the same time, Dragon Ball FighterZ boasts an amazing level of pick-up-and-play gameplay. FighterZ can and will appeal to anyone no matter their level of involvement in the Dragon Ball saga.
In a style made popular by Marvel vs. Capcom, matches take place in teams of 3v3 or 2v2. There's an option to switch out between fighters with a click of a trigger. By using the three main button of light, medium and heavy attacks its easily possible to deliver devastating combo (with multiple fighter) that look incredible and feel even better. There's even a simple mode which makes fighting even more accessible. Dragon Ball FighterZ is the ultimate example of a game that's easy to play but hard to master.
The presentation and overall feel of Dragon Ball FighterZ is nothing short of incredible. Whether the combatants are throwing their fists, balls of energy or just teleporting around the 2D stage, everything is extremely satisfying. No fighting game finish, not even a Mortal Kombat fatality, feels as incredible as FighterZ's destructive endings which will launch a defeated opponent into the bottom of a far-off mountain.
There's even a great deal of fun to be had in FighterZ's story mode. The 10-15 hour campaign requires some knowledge of the anime but it's still a entertaining, if very cheesy, original adventure around the Dragon Ball universe. This mode is the one area where the Switch's technical limitations come into clearer view. This is in a literal sense too because some of the textures of backgrounds are noticeably less detailed than the beautifully animated characters but it's a relatively small gripe.
The bigger issue and perhaps the fatal flaw of Dragon Ball FighterZ is everything else. The Nintendo Switch version, unsurprisingly but still disappointingly, has the same online lobby system as the original versions of the game. This online lobby is where players move around as chibi avatars of Dragon Ball characters. It's the interactive menu of FighterZ and it's horrendous. The lobby comes in both online and offline forms but it takes forever to load into either. Dragon Ball FighterZ's presentation is an overload of color and attitude but its loading screens are dull and far too frequent.
The wait time also extends into connecting to an online match. Whether your preference is a straight ahead casual or ranked match or something more exotic like FighterZ's arena mode, matchmaking is an awful experience. It can take upwards for five to ten minutes to find that right match with very simple parameters. Once a game connects, there's very little lag and its a smooth experience but the wait is unacceptable. It's made even more egregious by the fact that Nintendo Switch Online's service isn't all that appealing yet.
The problems don't stop there. The online lobby system of Dragon Ball FighterZ involves loot boxes and microtransactions. In the game's defense these loot boxes are relatively harmless and apply solely cosmetics. Using FighterZ's in-game currency or real life cash its possible to open capsules that result in new chibi avatars, online titles or various colorings for the game's fighters. FighterZ is very generous in dolling out the currency but the fact these loot boxes (or capsules) exist at all is a problem especially since the Nintendo Switch version forces you to doll out cash to unlock all the previously released DLC fighters.
There is a great deal to enjoy in Dragon Ball FighterZ. Online is a bit of a bust but it could improve with time. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4's online modes had similar troubles at launch but they've steadily gotten better.
Even if online never does get much better the offline modes of arcade and story are still strong enough to justify the price of the game, especially for hardcore Dragon Ball fans. The real selling point of FighterZ is still the fighting itself which remains as flawless and fun on the Switch as any other console. Sadly the rest of the game isn't as perfect.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is available now on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC for $59.99. Screen Rant was provided a Nintendo Switch copy for review.