Translations Archive

30th Anniversary: Dragon Ball Chōshishū –Super History Book–
(21 January 2016)

Video Games Selection – Pick Up! 02

The masterpieces representative of the growth period that gave rise to the first Dragon Ball fighting games!

The first one-on-one fighting games that allow you to experience Dragon Ball battles!

Dragon Ball Z: Super Butо̄den series

Debuting on the Super Famicom, these were the first one-on-one Dragon Ball fighting games. It allowed for combat in vast battlefields by segmenting the screen when the characters went far away from each other, a “dual screen” system that had never been seen in the fighting games made so far. A super successful series one could say is representative of the Dragon Ball games of the 90s.

Series Data

Dragon Ball Z: Super Butо̄den (“Dragon Ball Z: Super Martial Arts Legend”)
• Gaming system: Super Famicom
• Release Date: March 1993

Dragon Ball Z: Super Butо̄den 2 (“Dragon Ball Z: Super Martial Arts Legend 2”)
• Gaming system: Super Famicom
• Release Date: December 1993

Dragon Ball Z: Super Butо̄den 3 (“Dragon Ball Z: Super Martial Arts Legend 3”)
• Gaming system: Super Famicom
• Release Date: September 1994

All titles above released by Bandai

Memorial Interview: Toshihiro Suzuki (AKA “Dragon Suzuki”)
Dragon Ball Z: Super Butо̄den series producer

“I got permission from the company to dye my hair blond as ‘Dragon Suzuki'”

PROFILE: Besides working on numerous Dragon Ball games, he was also very active as “Dragon Suzuki,” a mascot for the various games in magazines and events.

Nowadays, when we think about Dragon Ball games, “fighting” is the genre that immediately comes to mind, but what originally lead you to convert the franchise into a fighting game?
It’s basically because, at the time, fighting games such as Street Fighter II were immensely popular, and when I was entrusted with developing a new game, I thought I might as well pick a genre I liked, so I went with a fighting game. That said, I first struggled with how to include stages that were faithful to the source material and allowed for large-scale battles worthy of the Dragon Ball name within the limitations of the Super Famicom, but I couldn’t come up with anything by myself… so, the game designers and developers all gathered together and tried to brainstorm some ideas. And then, the chief programmer suggested: “why don’t we just split the screen if they move far away from each other?” And this is how the idea of the dual screen was born. Since it was a completely new idea and it would probably not seem very exciting just written out on the proposal, we first built a prototype of Super Butōden and showed it to the people at Shueisha on the actual console. We took them to Kyoto, where the offices of the development company were located, but we were super anxious throughout the entire trip. What if we brought them all the way to Kyoto only for them to not be convinced…?
It’s pretty impressive that you managed to release the first and the second game in the same year.
It was a pretty ridiculous plan to release the first game in March and the second one in December… at any rate, we had no time. Not to mention, we had already caught up to the manga and used up all the characters in the first game. And so, after we finished the first game, the entire team got a measly one week of rest, and when we all got back together, we had the idea to ask Toei Animation for original artwork for the first time, to include underwater and forest stages, and to create Butōden mode, which included adventure elements. When we asked the people at Toei Animation for original artwork, we were also told to ask them to include movie characters, and that’s how we got our hands on Broli and Bojack.
Did you ever meet with Toriyama-sensei?
I visited his house a few times. Also, when we were making the first game, he was having trouble firing a Kamehameha, so I remember that I sent him a video of my hand movements while I was doing it. You had to press down, move backwards and then forward to release it1, an input that was created with Goku’s movements while doing the technique in mind, but that really was hard to pull off. (laughs) This is why we decided to simplify it in the sequels.
That was also around the time you started to appear in the pages of V-Jump as “Dragon Suzuki,” right?
I believe the first time was when we had the “Strongest Under The Heavens Hands-On Experience”2 event to celebrate the release of Super Butōden and my superiors told me to be the host. I think I was about 25 at the time. At first, I put on American super-hard pomade that had gold dust in it to style my hair like a Super Saiyan’s. This did not come off with shampoo, so every time I had to wash it down with silverware detergent and it did a number on my hair. After talking to my superiors and saying that I’d go bald at this rate, I filed an official request asking to allow me to dye my hair blond, since it was for job-related reasons. And this was at a time when company employees dyeing their hair blond was completely unthinkable.3 But they ended up giving me permission without any issues. However, the people at the company that didn’t know about it gave me weird looks, and there were some unsavory-looking people that kept glaring at me when I walked down the street, so it was pretty tough… (laughs)
Super Butōden 2 came bundled with copies of Extreme Butōden, which came out in June 2015, correct?4
I was super happy and thought that it was really great that you can enjoy a game that we played so excitedly back then now on the Nintendo 3DS. I also bought and played it, and was overcome with a rush of nostalgia.
The digital version of Extreme Butōden‘s strategy guide also included Super Butōden 2‘s strategy guide.
That’s the book where I wrote stuff like the “Super Meteor Poems”, right? (laughs) It’s something we made about 20 years ago, so it’s pretty nostalgic for me right now. I was really young back then…

[caption] If both players were at the same height, the dual screen’s dividing line was vertical, but if they were not, then the line would tilt. This system was devised in a way that would make it easy for players to know where they stood in relation to one another, even if they were very far apart.

Secret Files

Gaming Articles in V-Jump

V-Jump and Super Butōden were both born at around the same time5, which is precisely why the articles on the game were all boiling with excitement. “Dragon Suzuki”, Mr. Suzuki’s alter ego, also had a lively presence in the magazine’s pages.

Article in V-Jump With a Report on Toriyama-sensei‘s Experience
There is an article in the 04 April 1993 issue of V-Jump reporting on Toriyama-sensei‘s experience with Super Butōden. It was clear that he was extremely impressed with the sense of speed, the existence of voiced clips, and the overall production values of the game.

Articles where Suzuki-san appeared as his “Dragon Suzuki” persona
The origin of the current V-Jump‘s style of having unique characters present the various games was “Dragon Suzuki.” He had a large presence in both the magazine and strategy guides, showing off the various techniques present in the game as well as making announcements.

At the time, V-Jump wasn’t comprised of just articles6: there were also plenty of advertisements. These were also presented by Dragon Suzuki.

The following translator notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information.

1 These kinds of movements used in fighting games to unleash special skills are more commonly called “motion inputs” and people in the fighting game community would more commonly call this specific input a “quarter circle backward, forward”, or a “2146” if they were to use numeric notation.

2 天下一試験会 Tenka’ichi Shikenkai in the original, an obvious reference to the Tenka’ichi Budōkai, the “Strongest Under The Heavens Martial Arts Tournament” from the main series.

3 Japan has never had a very favorable opinion of people dyeing their hair. Most companies still do not allow it and it is almost universally forbidden in schools. There was always this idea throughout the country that only delinquents dye their hair, especially with colors that deviate particularly from the standard Japanese black. This sentiment has somewhat lessened in recent years, but it is still very much the norm, with only more creative companies (such as Bandai) allowing people some degree of freedom with their personal appearance. This mindset also explains why Chi-Chi was so distressed when she saw Gohan’s Super Saiyan form for the first time in Chapter 391 of the manga, as well as why she ordered Goten never to assume the form again, as told by himself in Chapter 427.

4 More specifically, first-press copies of Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butōden for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan included a download code for Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden 2. The same offer applied to those who pre-ordered the international version through Amazon, but it is the exact same game offered to Japanese players (i.e. the game is still completely in its original Japanese, not having been translated in any way). This particular version of the game is not quite a “Virtual Console” release, but is instead seemingly ripped directly from the version presented in the Nintendo 3DS compilation game J Legend Retsuden released in 2013 (complete with that version’s overall wrapper and menu system)… with the notable exception of a replaced soundtrack, almost certainly due to the fact that its original music was produced by Kenji Yamamoto, and this version was now getting an international release outside of Japan.

5 As mentioned in this article, the first Super Butōden game was released on 20 March 1993. V-Jump, on the other hand, had two trial runs before settling on a monthly release schedule. The first trial run, which consisted of three issues, began in November 1990, while the second, consisting of four, began in November 1992. The stable, monthly release began in July 1993, so yes, one could say they were born “at around the same time.”

6 It is strange that they are talking in the past tense, considering that is still exactly how V-Jump works even today…!

English Translation: Zénpai