Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is a reimagining of the Japanese arcade phenomenon that has taken the arcades by storm, bringing fans of TCG games together, and rewarding them for their efforts. Now, it’s in the West, as a Switch and PC based CCG.
+Excellent strategic gameplay elements not seen in other CGS
+Graphics, animations, and even performance is rather smooth
+Online play brings challenges to an entirely new level
+Unlimited team-up possibilities thanks to over 1,000 unlockable cards
-Knowing special hero and team-up triggers can be a bit difficult to understand
-A semi-forgettable story that many DBZ lore-driven fans may not enjoy
For years now, Super Dragon Ball Heroes has remained a popular go-to title for fans of trading card games, rather, TCGs for short in Japan. There, it’s not odd to see fans get in line, some even before the launch of a brand new block in order to get their hands on the cards based on their favorite Japanese anime characters.
Using villains, heroes, has-beens, and would be heroes to their advantage, they get together, controlling the playing field to the best of their ability. The best part of it all? These cards are used to power an actual arcade cabinet, allowing players to bring their characters to life in some unique way.
Released in the west as a digital-only title, Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission for PC and Nintendo Switch has given us the best of both worlds, one that doesn’t just include the cards, but also includes a game. For some, it may be a distinct choice to have preferred an augmented reality card game over a physical game itself.
For what it’s worth, when the game was revealed in January of this year, it was an interesting take, one that not a lot of TCG fans would have known about in the West due to its Japanese exclusivity. So let’s get down to basics.
There’s a story, it’s fun, and it’s built around both the world of Dragon Ball Z and its own
Set in the world of Dragon Ball Z and those that came before, as well as after (Dragon Ball Super), there’s a lot to take in when first building up your character. Just like any digital game, rather a game set in that kind of world, you’ll choose a character, get the basics of the story, and you’re on your way to becoming one of the best in the world for the card game itself.
You’ll be working alongside a multitude of heroes, each one offering a chance for you to experience something new, even giving you ideas of how to build out your deck. This includes special builds focusing on elements such as quick attacks or defensive gameplay altogether.
However, if you’re expecting tons of depth to it by any means necessary. It stands on equal grounds with franchises such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and, well, Dragon Ball Z in what little depth it actually has. The ultimate idea is to, as stated, to become the best of the best and stand out from the rest as a world champion.
In order to avoid spoilers, we need to move on and discuss the actual game itself since there’s a lot going on narratively in both what-if scenarios and the story that brings the game to life.
It’s one powerhouse team of cards after another
Unless you’re familiar with card games as a whole, knowing how Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission plays can be a bit difficult to take in altogether. Since it’s based on an actual TCG that you use your own cards with and interact with using said cards in order to play the game.
In Japan, the game works through a cabinet, through that cabinet you place physical cards on it, and from there, it detects what you are doing including card placement, user interactions, and even how the cards themselves actually work. The play surface then registers everything you do and continues on from there.
Unfortunately, it’s cooler in arcade machines than it is on a Switch or on PC. For our review, the prior of the two is the one we used for our experience. Instead of cards to activate the touch screen interactions or the JoyCon sticks themselves. It’s really not as cool, but it gives some idea of what kind of impact you would have on the said game were we to have arcades with this actual type of game.
The upside to this game, you don’t need to go to GameStop, a card shop, or even a dedicated arcade center in order to get a select grouping of over 1,000 or so cards, allowing you to take advantage of several iterations of each and every card. Over the course of time, you will obtain gashapon machine tickets, allowing you to purchase new tickets throughout your adventures in the arcade mode, but also the games main story mode itself.
There’s a charm to all of this
As CCG’s, which this one very well is, grow in popularity, so does the need for a vast amount of play styles to make their games actually stand out from one another. For those of you already wondering, no, this game does not play like titles such as Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions, Yu-Gi-Oh!, or even Magic the Gathering.
As this series isn’t new, there’ve already been numerous variants of Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission. It’s a series that’s been around since 2010, it’s seen various versions launched in the arcades, on mobile platforms such as iOS, and even a 3DS game. If you’re wondering, yes, this series is massive in Japan, just as Magic the Gathering is massive in the west.
To really help bring the experience to a whole, you do get to collect cards, you get to choose the teams of Dragon Ball heroes that you use, and you even have a chance to take advantage of what those heroes are capable of doing. Due to the fact this is a card game, action sequences are just what they sound like they are meant to be, QTEs, and card placement locations. You’ll find yourself situating your heroes along three separate rows.
Each row has a specific use depending on the type of role the hero plays. Different type of cards, each of them, play a different role. Each one has a specific purpose, some offering a special bonus in a combat scenario, while others are better used for certain setups based on how you want your team to work.
There’s a lot of depth to the game, there’s a lot of challenges with learning how to optimize your team, and even more depth to ultimately pushing your way through every challenge you will face. Some of this comes with the fact that the higher the tier the cards are, the more powerful they are, but harder they are to actually use.
Time to talk actual combat – It can be confusing
When it comes to combat in itself, you have to remember that each scenario comes in several phases. You have the Prep Phase, which lets you move your cards on the board into several different rows. Each row serves its own purpose such as standby, where they’ll regenerate their stamina, and they can even activate abilities depending on certain requirements that may occur.
Understanding how each of these actually works also depends on how well you paid attention to the tutorials. Luckily, each row comes with a useful approach to these scenarios, the front row, which you’ll be putting your best fighters in, is just for what it sounds like. This is where you want your heavy melee hitters, you want them here, you want to ensure they’re your front line cards.
The cards come in three types, Heroe, Elite, and Berserk. Each of these indicates what kind of combat capabilities that they will have. Heroes typically have a high GRD, making them great for all-around combat including defensive measures. Heroes can also use abilities such as a Kamehameha wave or a Galek Gun to finish off their assault on an enemy team.
Heroes also don’t use near as much STA (Stamina) when using special attacks at the end of their combat and defense phases. Then there are the Elite Types, which are STA-focused fighters who use Ki Blast attacks to their advantage. These fella’s also recover STA when they earn a Co-Op bonus during combat. Not bad when you are using a lot of these guys in team compositions.
They can also use specials as part of their tricks for the trade. Then there is the Berserker Type. These are your heavy hitters that reduce the enemies health gauge quickly but at a cost. Their trade-off is the fact they have low GRD, which makes them susceptible to being stunned, but they are your heaviest hitters, and they come with a high amount of power when activated. These guys also drain an enemy teams Energy when they get a co-op bonus.
The only one the game doesn’t discuss a lot is Support and how SP cards actually work. Sure, there’s a very brief tutorial, but it’s just that, brief, and these characters basically do what it sounds like. They support the team, giving a special buff to those that they are coupled with.
Combat gauges can be difficult, so can understanding Co-Ops and Lanes
The trade-off for all of these types is that they come with varying stats such as the Elite who has high GRD, the Beserker who needs to keep their STA up due to low GRD, and your jacks-of-all-trades, the Heroes. Once you figure out how these heroes work and the type of team build you want, you can easily burn through an opponents health in both story mode, side stories, and online play.
Combat, as stated, takes place across three various lanes. Each of these lanes has its own use and require some adequate knowledge about what they are for. The furthest back is for STA regeneration, the third row is a “support” row, the middle is great for your Elite and Heroes, while the front row, from my experience, is best kept for Elite and Berserker types due to what they are capable of.
It’s a great way to test your skills and find what kind of placements work best for your team due to the Co-Op bonuses your characters will have and ensuring that they will get to use them. There’s also different amounts of STA that will be used depending on where you place the members of your squads.
Once combat is fully initiated, it will play out in a series of QTE’s (Quick Time Events) such as character specials, melee attacks, pursuits, and even the chance to finish an enemy team off with a characters super-special attack such as Goku’s Spirit Bomb, or even Freeza’s Death Comet ability.
Each of these QTE’s is played out in a specific way, which includes players hitting “A” at the proper time in hopes to out-do their opponents click. If you “win”, your chance to block or do more damage to the opposing team. Depending on your cards and your team build, you’ll even have a chance to trigger special effects such as items that your cards have equipped, or even special trigger items to increase health, zenny earned, etc.
Some cards may get special buffs or trigger an item that can increase all damage of Saiyan’s on the team. It’s not uncommon and it’s one of the best things you can do – paying attention to items that you equip to your cards. Even in story mode, items, and modules will play an extremely important role.
That being said, combat is pretty straight forward, and it’s a highly cinematic experience that brings the TCG/CCG feel from Japan to life and will offer quite the unique experience to those wanting a game that will keep you at the edge of your seat. To show off your achievements, you’ll find that Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission doesn’t hold back from your adventures.
You can level up your cards, increasing their stats such as GRD and ensuring that they’ll be more suitable for online matches over time. It’s a trade-off worth taking advantage of, especially if you have a set deck you enjoy, and you want to ensure that deck will stand the beating your opponents will try to deliver.
We’ll see you around
While there’s no physicality to your achievements in the terms of cards, it eliminates the need for arcade machines, and it even gives you a sense of accomplishment when competing against players from around the world. From a story that’s actually moderately enjoyable to the nostalgia created by adventuring into saga’s that include stuff from the adventures of the Time Patrol or even Super, there’s no doubt the game has a lot to offer.
For those who were hoping for another fighting game series, this one isn’t going to be up your alley, as it is directly targeted towards those who enjoy CCG’s with a minor story and a whole lot of mechanics to enjoy. To be quite honest, it’s fun, it’s a great title that’s good for those needing something to pick-up-and-go while on the move or sitting at home wanting to burn some time.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission
Platforms: PC and Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Dimps Corporation
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Release Date: Available Now
Unfortunately, it does leave me craving the real experience that can only be had in Japan. There’s nothing like holding physical cards in your hand and having the ability to trade them with your friends.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.