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Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu(interview inside)
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Old 11 Aug 2003, 04:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu(interview inside)

August 07, 2003 - The Dragon Ball Z series has seen much success on the Game Boy Advance, and the two games released are some of the most successful third-party titles on the handheld system. It's no big surprise that Atari wants to continue the franchise for GBA owners, and the latest game in the series is another original design, this time a one-on-one fighting game called Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu.
Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu is scheduled for release this fall. We recently threw a few questions out to the development team, Webfoot Technologies, and the company president, Dana Dominiak, was kind enough to answer our inquiries about the team's GBA project nearing completion.


IGNpocket: How did Webfoot manage to be the GBA developer of Atari's Dragon Ball Z GBA games? What sort of background does the team have in the industry?

Dana Dominiak: Several years ago, long before there was even a whisper of a US based DBZ game, Webfoot cooperated with Atari to develop many tech-demos and game proposals for the purpose of winning Funimation's DBZ license for Atari. Webfoot is celebrating 10 years in the video game business and has over 80 published games. Developing on the GameBoy Advance hardware was a good fit for Webfoot, as we specialize in multi-platform software and have published products under Dos, Windows, Mac, PalmOS and PocketPC and other platforms. In addition, team member's personal experience extends to include many console systems, including Sony Playstation, Playstation 2, Nintendo Game Cube, Sega Genesis, GameBoy Color, Amiga, Coin-op, Jaguar, and others.

IGNpocket: Is the game design based upon any existing Dragon Ball Z fighter design released on past systems?

Dana: We designed Taiketsu from the ground up. While we enjoyed the other DBZ fighting games and took inspiration from them in small ways, we wanted to take this game in a direction that US DBZ fans had never seen. Specifically, we felt that DBZ fans were clamoring for an intense, 2-D, Street Fighter-style game featuring all their favorite characters from all the various sagas and movies in the Dragon Ball Z universe. We are all huge Dragon Ball Z fans and avid about bringing accurate DBZ characters to a fighting game.

IGNpocket: Where did the concept for Taiketsu come from? Which company came up with the idea to do a DBZ fighter for the Game Boy Advance?

Dana: Atari originally wanted a DBZ Fighter for the GBA. The concept for Taiketsu was developed by us. We knew that fans out there were craving a traditional, 2-D DBZ fighting game, emphasizing an epic struggle between Good and Evil because that was a game we wanted to play. We also wanted to include what we felt were the most popular characters over the life of the entire series, including characters from the DBZ Movies, of which so far, no DBZ fighting game had included. Thus, we decided to include Broly, by far the most popular of all the movie characters.

IGNpocket: What sort of fight game play mechanics are in Taiketsu? What existing fighter would you compare it most to?

Dana: Taiketsu sports many modern fighting game features like a chargeable Energy meter, Super Moves, combos, and air throws. In this way Taiketsu is most comparable to Capcom's Street Fighter Alpha or SNK's King of Fighters series. However, Taiketsu also includes Sky Battle mode, which lets players fly up and ambush their opponents from above, or have quick, explosive duels in the sky. As far as we know, no other fighting game has a feature like this.

IGNpocket: How long has the game been in development? Did it start during or after the development of the Legacy of Goku?

Dana: The development of Taiketsu started in late 2002. The early design was developed over a year ago and went through several different versions before development began.

IGNpocket: What should fans of Dragon Ball Z expect to experience in the form of references to the show?

Dana: Taiketsu is a classic straight up fighting game but the coolest feature is that it's the best DBZ characters doing the fighting. Nowhere, to our knowledge, is there a video game that features Broly (one of the most popular characters of all-time and the antagonist in Funimation's August home video release of the DBZ movie, Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan) Buu, Cell and Frieza. Our top priority when creating a Dragon Ball Z game is to bring into the game the personalities and traits of the characters so that fans will feel like they are interacting with the characters they love.

The fighting characters were modeled to look exactly like the characters in the series. We studied the movements of the characters by watching the videos of the show in slow motion to make sure we were getting the animations down correctly. We also made our characters larger than any other fighting game currently on the GBA so that they would be detailed and instantly recognizable. The characters have a variety of signature moves, and every attempt was made to make them as over the top as possible. We also recreated many of the signature environments on the show, including the desert landscapes, and futuristic cities of the DBZ world. We tried to bring as much of the DBZ world to the GBA screen as we could.

IGNpocket: What features are you implementing in the game design that will encourage replay for single player gaming?

Dana: There are 7 characters to start with, and 8 more to unlock, for a total of 15 fighters.

The player is rewarded for playing the game by receiving Z-Points based on how well you do during each fight. These Z-Points can be then used in the Z-Store to buy items such as bios of each character, pictures, new game modes, etc. The more you play, the more items will be able to be unlocked.

There are game modes such as Endurance mode, where the player can see how far s/he can get on one life. There is no limit as to how many rounds can be defeated, so there will always be another top score to beat. You can also link with your friends and play against each other endlessly.

IGNpocket: Are there any impressive technical aspects to the development of Taiketsu that push the GBA hardware?

Dana: Taiketsu is quite an advanced fighter for a system like the GameBoy Advance. In fact, we've seen several discussions online where fans were confused as to the platform after viewing some early Taiketsu screenshots - some fans thought the game was for the Playstation! We'll take that as a compliment. The arenas really push the tile hardware on the GBA and it shows. New compression techniques were developed to fit 15 large sized fighters into the cartridge, with hundreds of frames of animation per fighter. In addition, 9 fighters have 'super forms', so we technically have 24 unique character graphics to store on the cartridge. In addition to the arenas and fighters, we also managed to squeeze in an extensive Z-Store with many unlockable features, plus particle systems and explosion effects, music, sound effects, etc. all on an 8 Megabyte cartridge. Finally, the game features some advanced AI and per-pixel collisions. It wasn't easy, but it was worth the effort for a great show like Dragon Ball Z.

IGNpocket: Will any sort of GameCube to Game Boy Advance connectivity ideas make it into the development of Taiketsu?

Dana: We feel it is important to get Taiketsu into the player's hands as quickly as possible. A link to the GameCube was initially planned but due to very different release dates between the GameBoy Advance and any future GameCube title, in the end it was not feasible.

-- Interview by Craig Harris

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