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Something big is coming up for Dragon Ball fans…. and Matt Kamen’s got game.

Despite Dragon Ball’s fractured past in the UK – interrupted airings on satellite-only channels, never gaining the terrestrial exposure it deserved and only minimal amounts of merchandise available, just to scratch the surface of its woes – the series can still lay claim to an active and passionate fan base, even years after it ended. But like many ‘evergreen’ properties, Dragon Ball is kept alive through video games. So when we heard of a mysterious “Dragon Ball Game Project” coming out later this year for PS3 and Xbox 360 from Namco Bandai, we were eager to learn more.

Akira Toriyama’s original manga focused on Son Goku, a naive but super-powered young martial artist who later learns he’s one of the few survivors of an all-conquering alien race, going on to defeat a procession of increasingly deadly enemies with help from his similarly powerful mates! With such source material, it seems only natural that so many previous games in the DB series have been beat-em-ups.

However, while Namco Bandai is keeping the specifics of the latest game close to its chest, other details have been creeping out. It’s another hugely expansive 3D fighter, and Japanese developer Spike, Co. – the shepherd of Dragon Ball in all things digital over the last six years – is once again helming the secretive game. Fans can expect another bustling roster of characters from the manga, from heavyweight champions Goku, Vegeta and Cell to more obscure figures such as Mr Satan. The various combatants all sport memorable moves from the series, with Saiyan able to trigger changes into Super Saiyan forms, a power-up signified by blond, spiky hair and a glowing power aura. Other races, such as the lizard-like Namek, Piccolo, bear their own unique abilities. The main gameplay will take place in open fields, which are fully destructible with the awesome combat skills you’ll be wielding.

The game is also going to sail close to Toriyama’s original work and the anime series it inspired. Designs for cast and locations alike have been painstakingly recreated in impressive 3D, familiar pieces of music are to be used and members of the Japanese voice cast are set to return to their famous roles. The single-player mode will retell the core moments from the Dragon Ball Z saga – whether elements from the original Dragon Ball or anime-only sequel Dragon Ball GT will be included remains to be seen – as well as a “special mode which allows the player to experience a brand new age of Dragon Ball Z”, while multiplayer will bring familiar one-on-one brawls to your TV screen.

It won’t be long before more information is revealed, as Namco Bandai is giving the game its first public reveal at Paris’ Japan Expo from 30 June. Expect more details – including the reveal of the name! – very soon!

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