GTM #217 - Dragonball Z: Perfect Cell Dice Game
by IDW

Dragonball Z: Perfect Cell Dice Game - Interview with Designer Chris Bryan

Based on one of the most popular animes of all time, Dragonball Z: Perfect Cell puts players in the role of their favorite characters as they fight Perfect Cell before he destroys the Earth. IDW Games is happy to bring this popular anime to the tabletop and takes a look behind the scenes with designer Chris Bryan. Dragonball Z: Perfect Cell is coming to stores this March and is a wonderful co-op game for fans of the anime and gamers who enjoy a challenge. Hear from Chris about what it takes to create a game on this iconic show.

When designing Dragonball Z: Perfect Cell what are you looking for in terms of gameplay? 

As soon as I signed on to the project I sat down and listed out about 20 traits I thought were inherent to Dragon Ball Z, simple things like team-work, impossible odds, and growing more powerful. I approached my design looking through those lenses. How can I build in mechanisms to encourage helping fellow players? How can I make the play experience feel like you gradually become more and more powerful? The end goal was always to make a simple to learn game where players felt like they were embodying the roles of their favorite DBZ characters. 

What are you hoping that players get out of the game? Should they be working together or out for themselves? 

Since teamwork and camaraderie are such an important part of the DBZ narrative, I wanted to include elements that made players feel like they were actually part of a team working to defeat Cell, as opposed to just separate people working to achieve a shared goal. Some of the player powers are focused on helping out your fellow Z Fighters and the game mechanics encourage sharing dice with other players. 

Co-op games are on the rise, when designing Dragonball Z: Perfect Cell what sort of co-op elements did you want to make sure the game included? 

I am personally prone to quarterbacking co-operative games, so I wanted to make sure that the game allowed for strategic discussion, but still gave individual players agency over their own decisions. One of the main ways we achieved that is through the use of dice. Since it is impossible to know for sure the resources a given player will have to work with beyond the current turn, dictating with certainty what a player should be doing on their turn is much more difficult. 

I also wanted to make sure the game would be accessible to new players who might not have had any experience with co-operative games while also remaining fun and challenging for more experienced players. We included several different challenge levels so that the game can scale in difficulty to accommodate a wide range of player skill levels.

What was one of your favorite moments when designing this game? 

The first time I had a play test where the balance was getting close, and we had one of those wonderful co-op game moments where it all came down to the last couple of turns. All of the Z-Fighters were down to our last life, and if we weren't able to apply a huge amount of damage to Cell he was going to knock all of us out. We decided to go for an all-out attack and try and defeat Cell before his threats activated. Everyone was super invested and cheered as each player rolled their dice. We wound up being able to deal the exact amount of damage needed to defeat Cell and win the game. 

It’s always a great feeling when that emotional investment starts to occur in play tests, and it stops feeling like you are trying to fix problems and are it starts feeling like you are just playing a game with friends.

Have you always been a fan of the Dragonball Series? A favorite character or saga? 

Ever since it first came on American TV. I first started collecting the sagas when they were still on VHS. I got a degree in Radio, Television, and Film Production, and my first industry job was actually working for FUNimation on remastering Dragon Ball Z for the blu-ray release. It was really surreal actually going back to the original film prints from the 80s and cleaning it up for the high definition release.

Trunks is probably my favorite character when I was growing up, and the Trunks Saga is probably my favorite saga because of that nostalgia. As an adult I’ve come to think Vegeta is probably the most interesting character and I’ve come to really like the Frieza and Vegeta Sagas.

Is there anything else you want to talk about? 

Thanks for the interview, it was a dream to work with IDW on this property. I hope everyone enjoys the game!


Chris Bryan is a filmmaker and board game designer living in Texas. You can find out more about his upcoming projects by following him on twitter @ChrisBryanGames.