Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 (ドラゴンボールZ アルティメイトバトル22 Doragonbōru Zetto Aruteimeito Batoru 22) is a 2D/3D fighting video game based on the Dragon Ball Z anime series. It was released for the PlayStation in 1995 in Japan and 1996 in Europe.
The game is called Ultimate Battle 22 because it features 22 characters at the beginning of the game. Five more characters can be unlocked, and upon unlocking the characters, the title screen instead says Ultimate Battle 27. The game is notable for using actual cel drawings from the animators as character sprites and cutscenes before the fights which were a novelty at the time of its original release in Japan (these cutscenes were removed on the European and US releases). When Ultimate Battle 22 was officially released by Atari in North America, eight years after its Japanese release, no English dub track was produced and the pre-battle cutscenes were removed.
Another fighting game, titled Dragon Ball Z: Shin Butōden (which never received an American release), was released for the Sega Saturn a short time after Ultimate Battle 22 in Japan and is very similar to Ultimate Battle 22. Notably, the character selection is the same, the sprites from Ultimate Battle 22 were reused in Shin Butōden, and for the most part, both games share the same music.
Characters have two different meters to display status: a basic health meter and strength meter (latter explained below). The fighters have an array of basic close-up punches and kicks, as well as special attacks that require a motion with the directional buttons and attack input (each character has a "hypermove" by doing different combos). Most special attacks are based on actual moves used by characters in the manga/anime (i.e. Goku's Kamehameha), but require a large strength reserve to be used repeatedly. Other basic special attacks include a variety of Ki Blasts and explosion-based attacks.
Like the previous installments of the Butōden series, Ultimate Battle 22 has two levels of gameplay: grounded or in the air. By pressing triangle, the player's character will rise up and levitate, and if the other character does so, the camera goes to a dynamic aerial view. It does not have major effects on gameplay except for the different camera angles. In addition, if a character is hit with an attack that does heavy damage while aerial, they will plummet downwards an receive additional damage (much like fights in the regular anime).
Most characters have some sort of Ki Blast attack, melee attack, or approach attack. Doing special attacks drains the strength meter. Like in the previous fighting games of the series, when the meter is fully drained, the character will be exhausted and cannot move until strength is recovered or until being hit. To restore strength, one must hold square, X, and circle. The character will then do the signature charge pose by glowing in yellow aura and yelling. The player can also create a large Energy Shield (or Force Field in the case of Androids) for a brief moment by pressing right, down, and left on the control pad, and then pressing circle. While doing so, the player cannot be harmed by energy-based attacks, but is completely vulnerable to melee attacks.
The 22 characters are comprised of:
- Goku (Super Saiyan) (Super Goku in the manual)
- Teen Gohan (Super Saiyan 2)
- Vegeta (Majin)
- Future Trunks (Super Saiyan) (Super Trunks in the manual)
- Krillin (Krilin in the manual)
- Tien Shinhan (Ten Chin Han in the manual)
- Frieza (Final Form)
- Zarbon (Base)
- Recoome (Likum in the manual)
- Captain Ginyu (Genious in the manual)
- Cell (Perfect Form)
- Android 18 (C18 in the manual)
- Android 16 (C16 in the manual)
- Great Saiyaman
- Goten (Super Saiyan)
- Trunks (Super Saiyan) (Trunk in the manual)
- Gotenks (Super Saiyan) (Gotrunks in the manual)
- Supreme Kai (Kaiohshin in the manual)
- Majin Buu (Majin Boo in the manual)
- Super Buu (Super Bou in the manual)
There are also five secret characters to be unlocked via cheat code included in the manual. These characters are:
- Kid Goku
- Master Roshi (Genius Turtle in the manual)
- Mr. Satan
- Goku (Super Saiyan 3) (Mega Goku in the manual)
- Gogeta (mistakenly called Vegito in the US release)
- Ruined City
- Cell Games Arena
- Kami's Lookout
- Hyperbolic Time Chamber
- World Martial Arts Tournament
- Barren Planet
- Crystal Room
- Goku's theme is from Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden 3
- Gohan's theme is from Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden 2
- Vegeta's theme is from Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden 3
- Piccolo's theme is from Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden 2
- Kid Goku's theme is from Dragon Ball Z: Super Gokuden: Totsugeki-Hen
Ultimate Battle 22 was the subject of an overwhelming number of negative American reviews. The original Japanese game came out in 1995, and thus, by comparison to the more recent titles of the time, the game paled.
- GameSpot give it a 1.2/10, calling it a "really, really terrible game."
- X-Play said it was "a waste of time and money."
- Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine gave it a 1/5, the second lowest score possible.
- Electronic Gaming Monthly said that "someone crapped in a jewel case and passed it off as a game."
- Overall, it has a 32% on GameRankings.
- IGN gave it a 4.0.
- Like Shin Butōden, this game marks the return of almost every character from the Super Butoden series. Missing characters are Frieza (100% Power), Dr. Gero, Imperfect Cell, Cell Jr., Zangya, Bojack, Broly, and adult Gohan (Super Saiyan 2).
- The method to unlock the five secret characters is mentioned in the instruction booklet that comes with the game. To unlock them, the following buttons must pressed in order while at the title screen: Up, Triangle, Down, X, Left, L1, Right & R1. After inputting the code, a sound is heard and an intro which features the five hidden characters is shown. After that, the title screen changed from "Ultimate Battle 22" to "Ultimate Battle 27" (due to the addition of the five hidden characters) appears.
- Mr. Satan is the only character in the game who does not have a strength meter, due to the fact that he does not use ki but instead uses weapons.
- Mr. Satan and Master Roshi are the only characters who cannot fly in the game. Kid Goku also cannot, but uses Flying Nimbus instead. Later video games, starting with Dragon Ball Z 2: Super Battle and the Budokai series, remedied the "Mr. Satan cannot fly" issue by giving him a jetpack.
- If two Kid Gokus fight each other, the one who loses the match transforms into Oolong after he falls, revealing him to have been an impostor.
- Even though Goku is a Super Saiyan in this game, his in-game sprite is a Super Saiyan 2.
- This is the last game to feature the original VA for Master Roshi, Kōhei Miyauchi, as he died during the game's production (the sad ending theme is mostly a tribute to his death, as his name is mentioned). Surprisingly, Miyauchi also voices him in Dragon Ball Z: Shin Butōden.
- Despite this game being released in the US during the US anime dub run, the voices are Japanese rather than English (no other DBZ game released in the US had that case, other than Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout and Dragon Ball Z: Super Butōden 2 (as a bonus of Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butōden).
- Gogeta is named Vegito in the US version of the game, as the movie Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn hadn't aired in the USA yet.
- When forming Gogeta, Vegeta appears in his Majin state during the VS character (Gogeta) intro (Japanese version only).
- In the secret opening of the five characters, Goku and Vegeta had the Potara but it's not Vegito who appears but Gogeta.
- When playing as Zarbon, he is able to perform the Crusher Ball despite not being it one of his moves. He poses and yells "Crusher Ball!" then proceeds to throw a medium-sized ki ball (In actuality it's Jeice's move, from the Ginyu Force) this is fixed in Shin Butoden.
- The USA cover features Mystic Gohan and Kid Buu, both of which are not in the game.