Since the concept of fusions first entered the Dragon Ball Z canon, fans have pondered one simple question: What if? What if, instead of Vegeta, it was Gohan who combined with Goku? What if permanent fusions were actually so? What if the Z fighters decided to mix and match and create a plethora of new combo fighters? Unfortunately for fans however, these musings were relegated to the realm of fan fiction, fan art and general friendly discussions…”were” being the operative word. Yes friends, no more must these ideas lie in the minds of the populace, for now there is an outlet for insanity, a vessel for nonsense, a game cartridge that houses far more what ifs, how coulds and why nots than most though possible; Dragon Ball Fusions.
Somewhere on the mystical planet of Earth, or at least the Dragon Ball equivalent of said planet, two impetuous youths decide to test their mettle against the greatest fighters in the world. Naturally this means Shenron is in order, and both Pinich and (insert customisable main character name here) wish for a tournament to be held. The ultimate tournament. So pip pip Porunga and an event is cooked up, with the small side effect of creating a separate dimension of time space where the greatest fighters from time and space may gather. Long story short, familiar faces like Krillin, Yamcha, Cell, Freeza, Kid Goku, Trunks’ both present and future, Bulla, Pan, Raditz, Nappa, a Vegeta or two, Dodoria I think and sneaky Gine all pop up one way or another. Thoguh quite obviously a who’s who of Dragon Ball history is enough of a selling point, the game extends itself enough to present some interesting scenarios with the characters presented. Brief interactions such as Bardock subtly encouraging Kid Goku to get stronger, or Kid Trunks wondering what his future self did to earn the ire of Towa and Mira lean into the fan fiction nature of this game enough to bring a smile to the face of those who have imagined these scenarios in their head. My personal favourite is the friendship that blossoms between the Ginyu Force and the main story team, seeing as neither MC (Main Character), Goten, Trunks, Pan or Kid Goku know immediately that they work for Freeza. The hesitation with which they challenge you upon receiving the order to do so creates an oddly bittersweet moment in a game that ultimately exists for the fun of it. Heck, the first fusion you see is Natz, the fusion of Nappa and Raditz. Let that one sink in.
Speaking of teams (a la the Ginyu Force and MC and crew), Fusions revolves around a 5 v 5 system. Combat takes place in a circular arena, with backgrounds drawn from various DBZ locales. Characters take turns based on the standard fare ATB gauge, with attacks against them pushing them further back in the queue. Which can be a touch annoying when used against you. A heavier blow is dealt however when a character is knocked outside the ring of combat, though not immediately fatal (unless specified by the rules), characters are sent back to the beginning of the combat line. Again, annoying when used against you, but an excellent way to keep stronger opponents from taking you down quickly. Of course, this is assuming you can actually cause enough knockback to accomplish a Ring Out, which is one part skill and a couple more parts random luck. When initiating a melee strike, the source of the most powerful knockback, you must decide from which direction to strike. This takes the form of a hexagon wherein you much choose a side, should the enemy choose the same side, the attack is severely reduced in damage and knockback is mitigated pretty harshly. Should they choose wrong however, the attack proceeds as normal and everything is fine, worse for them should they choose the exact opposite of you, that’s a Clean Hit and those hurt. A lot. Ki Blasts, on the other hand, lack this choice and automatically hit, at the cost of reduced knockback.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that the game contains a Scissors, Paper, Rock typing system, relegated Power, Speed and Technique. I say probably because for me the main impact of these typings were the variation of Ki Blasts. Powers throw a single bomb-like attack, Speeds shoot a thin piercing beam and Techniques rapid fire over a wide area. As far as the match-ups go, you can honestly make it through the game fine without worrying too much. I simply chose a team of characters I wanted and didn’t realise for a few hours that they were all Speed types. Granted the game makes level grinding easy, meting a large amount of the challenge, but it still shouldn’t matter too much.
But who cares about gameplay and story? I mean, this game lets you fuse a myriad of Dragon Ball characters, both Z and earlier, into crazy new fighters. That’s why we’re all here and, honestly speaking, disappointment is far from the first emotion felt. Granted there is a slight lull in the early portions of the game, with Goten and Trunks’ Fusion Dance being your only option, one limited to a few turns in battle, the game eventually bestows upon you what you bought it for; EX Fusions. Unlike the time limited Fusion Dance, EX Fusions are performed outside of battle and last indefinitely, meaning no more wasted turns and no more wasting fighters, watching two become one in the attack order. However, there are some limitations to this process, unique to each and every character. Kid Goku, for example, is able to fuse with (not actually) Teen Gohan, creating a remarkably powerful fighter. However, both characters must be over Level 60 and you must possess the Numero Uno title, given by beating the optional 100 Team Battle mode. This is the reason that I do not possess Kuhan and instead have Kid Goku and Krillin rocking the Kame School fusion; Gorillin. Other characters generally also possess level requirements and a select few need certain side missions to be completed, though all have only a specific list of fusion counterparts. So no mixing Cooler and Goku, despite how interesting, and spiky, the result would be. MC on the other hand is somewhat more lenient on this front and is able to fuse with any other character in the game, which is just oodles of fun. Though fusion requirements do still exist for some of the more potent recipes, the meantime is still fun. I mean, my interim fusion involved Bardock, so you can imagine how good the one I wanted was. Very…it was very.
Graphically speaking, Fusions is fun. I know that might not be the most eloquent terminology ever put to digital page, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Additionally, what better way is there to describe a game that includes an entirely chibi-esque cast of characters that includes, but is not limited to, an irate cat god, a man whose mullet game is stronger than he is and an alien who looks like a blushing durian? Weird…I guess another way to describe it would be weird. Either way, the manner of EX Fusions is by far the most interesting visual aspect of this game. Seeing how the artists decided to combine aspects of each character into their final joined product has always been the most exciting part of fusion and this game gives you a plethora of examples to be excited…or laugh. Some of them aren’t the best. I’m looking at you Reguldo.
I like Dragon Ball Fusions and I think Dragon Ball Fusions likes itself too. Born from a fan’s dream, the game is an answer most thought would never exist to a question has long given up on. And them some. Sure we all pondered the Goku/Gohan fusion, but who ever considered Goku’s mother fusing with a time travelling demon scientist? Or Android 18 combining with Arale? Or Piccolo melding with Kibito Kai? Who’s thought about Kibito Kai? It’s all just so ridiculous and that’s why it’s fun. From the premise alone, Dragon Ball Fusions was meant to be a conduit through which to funnel fan service. To bring forth new designs for the heck of it and bring back faces not seen since Budokai 2 (I missed you Tiencha). To make you stop for a second and wonder just what the heck the creators were thinking when they designed Vegenks’ hair. Alas, we may never know the answer to that last one, but don’t let that stop you seeing all the fusions this game has to offer, despite all of the additional question they might raise. Like is it weird for Bulma when Vegeta and Yamcha fuse? Is it weird for Pan when Gohan and Videl fuse? Or for Gohan when Pan and Videl do? Or 17 and 18? Or Kid Goku and Kid/Teen Gohan? Or Broly when his mortal enemy becomes him? Or…you know what? Fusion is weird.
Wouldn’t it be crazy if Bandages the Mummy, Daimao (King Piccolo), Nam and Jaco all fused together? They’d probably be called, like, Bandai Namco or something. Man, fusions sure are crazy, aren’t they?