Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is an addictive card game that is absolutely full of content on all sides. Though it has a few minor problems that halt the pace of progression, the volume of ridiculous fanservice and deep mechanics make World Mission a treat for both card game fans and Dragon Ball fans.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission
Developer: Bandai Namco
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed) and PC
MonsterVine was provided with a Switch code for review
The Dragon Ball Heroes arcade card game seems to be quite a phenomenon in Japan. At practically every anime convention I’ve attended over the years, there have been vendors with enormous binders full of Dragon Ball Heroes cards, featuring entirely new characters or insane concepts that aren’t even remotely canon (Super Saiyan 4 Broly still weirds me out). I’ve always wanted to know more about Heroes’s insane story and characters, but the subseries never made its way to the West– that is, until Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission released. As an enormous Dragon Ball fan who’s wanted in on Heroes for ages, I’m glad to say that World Mission is every bit as ridiculous, strange, and fun as it seems, even with a couple minor speedbumps.
The story of World Mission starts with a simple concept: you play as yourself in a world where the characters and events of the Dragon Ball franchise are all real, but in the distant past. In this new world, the Super Dragon Ball Heroes card game is all the rage, as it features the heroes and villains that the whole world knows and loves. As soon as you begin to settle in, the world is thrown into turmoil by the seemingly impossible appearance of Dragon Ball’s most deadly villains. It’s up to you and your fellow players (as well as the mysterious Great Saiyaman 3) to save the world by playing a children’s card game, all while fighting alongside your favorite characters from all of Dragon Ball. The story is silly and predictable, but playing as a Dragon Ball fan in the world of Dragon Ball evokes a very pure type of joy that I think any fan will be able to appreciate. World Mission’s willingness to go all-out on weird concepts (from time-travel to battling a Godzilla-esque kaiju Cell) is incredibly endearing, and makes for some great surprises for even the most devoted of fans.
The characters featured in the story and on the cards cover every era of Dragon Ball up to (and including) Dragon Ball Super’s Tournament of Power story arc, meaning only the new Broly film and later Heroes-exclusive story characters are absent. I appreciate the wide range of eras, as this is the only game where I can have General Tao go up against Dark Saiyan King Vegeta, and other such ridiculous match-ups. This variety also allows for some insane character concepts that couldn’t exist outside of this hypothetical universe, like Super Saiyan 3 Raditz, Golden Cooler, or Demon God Dabura. Just looking over these characters is a lot of fun, especially if you’re as out-of-the-loop about the world of Dragon Ball Heroes as I was.
“There’s a lot going on in World Mission, but it all comes together to make a deep and exciting card game that I still can’t get enough of.“
There’s a lot of depth in World Mission’s core gameplay, but things never feel too overwhelming. There are a lot of factors constantly at play during each match, but the plethora of in-depth and comprehensive tutorials ensure that anyone can get a handle on things fairly quickly. It takes time to completely understand the game, but even a novice can jump into the game and have a lot of fun after the most basic of World Mission’s tutorials; a much-appreciated feature in such a complicated card game.
On the most basic level, World Mission’s combat pits two players against one another, each with up to seven cards. Each card features a character from Dragon Ball, and falls into the “Hero”, “Elite”, “Berserker”, or “Special” class. In each round of play, both players move their characters between the “Standby” and “Combat” zones, depending on if they want to battle or replenish a character’s stamina. Your goal is to reduce your opponent’s health to zero by attacking their characters with your own, through the use of special attacks, abilities, and timing-based minigames. There’s a lot going on in World Mission, but it all comes together to make a deep and exciting card game that I still can’t get enough of.
It’s also immensely satisfying to build your own “perfect” deck. The vast majority of the cards in World Mission have various special effects and “Character Action” attacks/buffs, which can be used in conjunction with other characters to do some crazy combos. Some characters can be fused together to boost your whole team’s stats, while others can form “Units” (often related to their in-universe stories) to provide you with buffs. These will sometimes trigger mini-games that add a burst of adrenaline to the match, as they suddenly have you rapidly rotating the control sticks, make slashing motions with your fingers, and more. It’s hectic in the best way, as it adds some action to World Mission that reminds you that this is a Dragon Ball game.
If the Story isn’t your thing, World Mission features a ton of side-content. There are plenty of story-based arcade modes, online PvP, puzzle missions that test your strategic prowess, custom missions made by other players, and even custom card creation. Using borders, images, and effects you can earn in other modes or buy from the store (with in-game currency, no microtransactions), you can create your own Heroes cards that can be used in most of the game’s modes. You can customize the card’s appearance, abilities, stats, and more, meaning you can make your own specific card for your favorite character if you don’t find one that works for your deck. The variety of different things to do in World Mission is admirable, and will keep you occupied for hours upon hours.
“It may sound minor, but this small issue takes some of the fun out of pulling if you want to experience everything, as you’ll get frustrated as you pull duplicates time and time again when there are so many other fresh sets you could be pulling from.“
My one major issue with World Mission comes from its “Extra” portions in each chapter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the portions themselves, rather it’s gaining access to them that rubs me the wrong way. You need specific cards in order to access these missions, which you’ll only be able to get through the randomized “gacha” system. Trying to get one or two specific cards from a large set of cards can take a frustratingly long time, especially when some of the required cards are rare pulls. This also means you’ll likely be limiting yourself to pulling from one or two sets until you can access the Extra section, which discourages pulling from different sets until you have the specific cards you’re looking for. It may sound minor, but this small issue takes some of the fun out of pulling if you want to experience everything, as you’ll get frustrated as you pull duplicates time and time again when there are so many other fresh sets you could be pulling from.
The visuals of World Mission are rough. The character models have very little expression whatsoever, making them look stiff and robotic. They look good in action, as they strike dynamic poses and shoot flashy and colorful energy blasts. It’s when they’re standing still and speaking in cutscenes that their models begin to look like early Budokai Tenkaichi models. The actual cards are stunning though, as they feature incredibly cool art and designs.
The Final Word
Outside of a couple minor issues, Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is an incredibly robust and enjoyable card game that will keep you playing for a long, long time. There’s no shortage of Dragon Ball fanservice for new and old fans, and a ton of side-content for people who just dig the card mechanics, making World Mission a remarkably fun card game for anyone who likes Dragon Ball and strategy.
MonsterVine Review Score: 4 out of 5 – Good