Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gameday Sunday: Battle Stadium D.O.N. (GameCube/PS2)

Released for the GameCube and PlayStation 2 in 2006, Battle Stadium D.O.N. is best described as Super Smash Bros. with characters from Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, and Naruto. The gameplay is nearly identical, the maps have similar 'out-of-bound' areas, and each character has a special move. With that said, Battle Stadium D.O.N. is a heck of a fun game, especially for fans of these franchises.

I picked up a copy for the GameCube a few years ago (back then I was using a FreeLoader disc, but have since upgraded to a Panasonic Q, modded to play both JP and NA games).

Unfortunately, the game was never released outside of Japan. At the time, many said it would just be too difficult to license in North America, due to it featuring characters from three different properties. Of course, nowadays, we have J-Stars Victory VS being released in the US, which includes an even more diverse roster.

In Battle Stadium D.O.N. players start off with 12 characters, but there's a total of 20 who are playable. Naruto features mainstays like Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, Rock Lee, Kakashi, and Gaara, while One Piece includes Luffy, Zoro, Sanji, Nami, Usopp, and Chopper. However, Dragon Ball Z features eight characters instead of six, with Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan, Trunks, Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu.

There are seven stages to play on, with four more being unlockable. Several of the stages have interactive elements, making for some more unpredictable fights. Each series is well represented, with Planet Namek, West City, World Martial Arts Tournament, and the Hyperbolic Time Chamber taken from Dragon Ball Z, the Going Merry, Baratie, and Giant Jack, lifted from One Piece, and the Hidden Leaf Village, Final Valley, and Forest of Death, borrowed from Naruto. The single non-themed stage was the Battle Stadium.

It really feels like the developer paid close attention to each characters signature moves. Goku, of course, has his kamehameha, along with his ultimate move being the spirit bomb. Naruto has various jutsu moves, and Luffy's arms extend across the screen. There are various pick-ups scattered around the stages too, like Goku's power pole and different types of throwable ninja kunai.

I've had a blast playing this game. Though unlocking everything can be a bit of a pain (due to the game's random slot machine-like unlocking system), it's still a blast and highly recommended for those who are fans of both fighting games and these particular Shonen titles. It's a shame it never received a proper US release, especially in 2006. I'd wager that it would've been a fairly popular game among North American anime fans, especially given its party-centric Smash Bros. gameplay.

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