Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero Producer Says Game Will Have Budokai Tenkaichi’s Spirit, Nostalgia

During The Game Awards, Bandai Namco revealed a trailer for Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero, the newest entry in the beloved 3D fighting game series. Seeing as how it’s been nearly 15 years (10 years if you count the series’ lackluster spin-offs) since players received a new mainline Budokai Tenkaichi game, folks likely have a lot of questions about Sparking! Zero.

Naturally, IGN assembled the seven dragon balls and spoke with producer Jun Furutani to chat about the game’s five-year development process and get some insight into what players can expect when Sparking! Zero releases on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and PC.

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Although several Dragon Ball games have released since 2007’s Budokai Tenkaichi 3 on PlayStation 2 and Wii, Furutani said now felt like the perfect time for the series to return and deliver an “evolved” Dragon Ball Z gameplay experience on next-gen consoles.

“What was interesting to see with [Sparking! Zero] was the effect on the environment. When Goku is charging his ki, you have a little bit of wind picking up,” Furutani said while pantomiming Goku’s zenkai boost. “When someone crashes through a boulder or a building [after an attack] it’s happening in real time. We’ll be using Unreal Engine 5, so the graphics are just that more real and immersive.”

What was interesting to see with [Sparking! Zero] was the effect on the environment

Furutani says he drew inspiration from his time observing how players in Dragon Ball FighterZ‘s esports scene enjoyed recreating iconic battles from the anime to ensure players could relish in an identical experience with Sparking! Zero.

“Sparking! Zero is different than [Dragon Ball FighterZ, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, and Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot]. FighterZ was created with esports intentions with 2D fighting. Kakarot was about experiencing the story. Xenoverse [had players] go in as an avatar into the world,” Furutani said. “The focus here is to push the limits of how much a player can completely immerse themselves into the world and how intensely we can make that [happen].”

Before the new Budokai Tenkaichi trailer made its world premiere earlier this year, fans referred to the previously unnamed title as Budokai Tenkaichi 4. Gematsu spotted a Bandai Namco trademark filing in September, revealing that the game would instead adopt the series Japanese title, “Sparking.”

Although the subtitle “Zero,” tends to indicate a game ostensibly serving as a prequel entry in an ongoing game series, that isn’t the case with Sparking! Zero. Rather, the name is meant to embody the game being an accessible starting point for longtime fans and newcomers alike.

Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to get Furutani to spill the senzu beans about the game’s roster size or, more importantly, if the series’ beloved loading screen mini-games would make its triumphant return. However, Furutani beckoned fans to look forward to more details in the future and expect a “robust game” when Sparking! Zero releases on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and Steam.

Isaiah Colbert is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow them on Twitter @ShinEyeZehUhh.

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