The Dragon Ball Z anime has seen some pretty fantastic video games—I'm a particularly big fan of the Budokai games and the Legacy of Goku series. Unfortunately, most of the games have never seen a release on PC. In fact, if you look on Steam right now, you have only two options to choose from: Dragon Ball Xenoverse or its sequel. And I don't mean to sound negative about the aforementioned games, but they're not exactly what I've been looking for.
Enter the fan-made Hyper Dragon Ball Z. It's a free 2D fighting game in the same vein as Street Fighter II, and it's surprisingly good. I haven't played it enough to learn the intricacies of each character, but I spent a good amount of time this weekend mashing it out and getting a vague idea of how I pulled off some of the combos. And I have to say that I had a lot of fun.
Hyper Dragon Ball Z was made with the freeware fighting engine M.U.G.E.N., and the current build features nine characters—Goku, SSJ Goku, Vegeta, Majin Vegeta, Gohan, Piccolo, Frieza, Babidi, and Hercule. As a pretty big DBZ fan, I wish there were about two dozen more, but developer Team Z2 is planning to release Android 18, Super Buu, Gotenks, Krillin, and Tien this year. And the development team has done work to rebalance its roster, so it seems like it wants to focus on a good selection of characters, as opposed to a large one.
On top of all that, the game features 21 stages with most of them coming from all parts of the anime's history, including the earliest parts of the series all the way up to the latest movie, Battle of Gods. There's even a stage based on the real-life fighting game tournament EVO, which is pretty funny.
You can check out the latest build's trailer at the top of this article. If you want to play the game for yourself, click on the following links to get the version that's right for you: there are different servers for North America (opens in new tab), Europe (opens in new tab), and South America (opens in new tab). There's also a Discord channel (opens in new tab), in which you can discuss the game and suggest changes.
Of course, the elephant in the room is how long will this be available before Bandai Namco, the video game publisher behind official DBZ games, issues a takedown. I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not exactly sure how this all works, and if pixel artist Balthazar taking donations through Patreon (opens in new tab) and PayPal affects that at all. We'll keep you updated if a takedown is issued.