I’m not a Fortnite player. I don’t like playing online multiplayer games with anyone, because they stress me out. Also, I’m terrible at them. I’m especially terrible at Fortnite, the Battle Royale-style game that’s been a sensation for years—even the non-competitive modes, like an in-game challenge created in 2020 by the Biden campaign. (Finding all 10 of Kamala’s sneakers around the city was so freaking annoying.)
But I am an anime fan, and I’m proud of it. As soon as my sister and I came home from school, we’d turn on Cartoon Network’s anime block, Toonami. We’d watch Dragon Ball, and Dragon Ball Z, and occasionally Dragon Ball GT, its non-canonical sequel, with glee. Tuning in every day to watch that franchise and countless other (arguably better) shows are indelible memories I’ll cherish forever.
Anime fans are nothing if not deeply loyal, after all. So are people who play video games—with an added dash of self-loathing and/or anger… but I digress. Epic Games, Fortnite’s incredibly rich, incredibly savvy developer, has seized on the nature of these and other fandoms several times before, to huge results. Previous characters you could dress up as have included Naruto’s Naruto; Rick and Morty’s Rick and Morty; Spider-Man’s Spider-Man; and Ariana Grande, who’s a real person but also basically a character, really. But nothing has been as eye-catching and money-grabbing as the latest pandering Fortnite event: Dragon Ball-themed content.
The heroes of Dragon Ball are now playable in Fortnite for a limited time, bringing one of the most successful, iconic anime in history to one of the biggest games ever. The crossover is to honor the latest Dragon Ball feature film, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, which premieres in theaters this weekend.
When the Fortnite Twitter account teased the event last week with a familiar image—a silhouette of the anime’s titular dragon—the response was one of intense excitement. The post got more than 300,000 likes, tens of times more than the average Fortnite tweet; the replies were full of memes, cheers, and exclamation points.
When I was a kid EVERY SINGLE Saturday morning I’d watch the new DragonBall Z episodes. This is a Collab I’ve genuinely wanted for so long!!
— Nick Eh 30 (@NickEh30) August 11, 2022
— Martyn Littlewood (@InTheLittleWood) August 11, 2022
I rarely say this, but: Count me among them. Dragon Ball video games are … not great. They rarely capture the gloriously over-the-top action of the series itself, which marries extraterrestrial lore with unbelievable martial arts stunts—and some silly comedy and superheroics, too. For as infamously slow as the anime tends to move, its build-up always feels worth it when the fight scenes are so iconic and absurd. The official video games usually carry over that glacial pacing without that satisfying payoff, thanks to ugly graphics or poor gameplay.
And Fortnite, while I suck at it, is an objectively fun game. The gameplay is clear-cut, varied, and well-designed. You can play the simple, classic survival mode (last one alive wins), or you can chill out and run around with your friends in freer, more low-key modes. You can make your character do famous dance moves set to songs you recognize. You can build a research center for a local historically Black college in the Joe Biden campaign, for chrissake. Fortnite is a game where a giant Travis Scott can put on a concert, and it’s not even weird (or life-threatening).
And now, Fortnite is a game where Venom can use the kamehameha, Dragon Ball’s most iconic fighting move, against Darth Vader.
Darth Vader is no match for Venom with the Kamehameha pic.twitter.com/bUDmrvFl35
— Shadow (@TheAgentShadow) August 16, 2022
Space Jam: A New Legacy star Lebron James can use it, too.
STOP THERE JOHN WICK.
IT IS I, LEBRON JAMES, HERE TO STOP YOU WITH THE KAMEHAMEHA pic.twitter.com/UCSFWZWGBw
— GamesCage - Hype Fortnite Guy (@OnTheDownLoTho) August 16, 2022
Goku, the star of the entire Dragon Ball franchise, can dance to Doja Cat.
From here on out when anybody asks what the metaverse is, I’m going to say it’s logging into Fortnite and making Goku dance to Doja Cat pic.twitter.com/gDi0jnLcpZ
— Nick Statt (@nickstatt) August 16, 2022
His sworn nemesis-turned-brother-in-law Vegeta is also an amazing dancer.
A DANCINHA DO VEGETA, EM FORTNITE x DRAGON BALL SUPER!
GOAT! KKKKKK pic.twitter.com/diRiNfVvON
— Kami Sama Explorer (@kamisamaexp) August 16, 2022
Goku can hang out with Ghost Rider, Rick, and Doctor Strange to watch a selection of Dragon Ball episodes in one of Fortnite’s non-competitive areas.
Rick, Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange and Goku watching Dragon Ball in Fortnite. pic.twitter.com/URs1CSdgK7
— Coolio (@CoolUncIe) August 16, 2022
This is an anime/cartoon/superhero/video game nerd’s dream, made all the better by the presence of something as fantastically nostalgic as Dragon Ball. The only problem is that Fortnite, while free to play, charges money for access to this licensed content…which means I will have to buck up, log in, and spend some cash, just to make Goku do the Carlton dance. Worth it.