After a prolonged drip feed of new trailers and character announcements, Dragon Ball FighterZ comes out in less than a week. Unfortunately, while the playable roster is 24 characters strong, one of the series most beloved little dudes isn’t among them.
Technically, Chiaotzu is in the game. Once again reprising his role as a side-kick, the telekinetic kid comes out for assists whenever players are fighting as Tien. The Z fighter deserves more though. Through out Dragon Ball and for the first part of Dragon Ball Z, Chiaotzu stands out as one of the more unusual heroes. In white makeup with rosy cheeks, the character is inspired by Jiang Shi, a sort of vampire creature who hops around absorbing the life force of others. In the show, these origins manifest themselves in early episodes when Chiaotzu’s telekinetic powers are actually able to kill people. In one particular tournament when he faces off against Krillin, the latter almost has his insides torn apart while the former just stands there. Chiaotzu can stop bullets in their tracks launch himself like a spinning top at unsuspecting opponents. So what if the only fight he ever won was against Guldo, the worst Ginyu fighter of all? Losing is just an occupational hazard of being a Z fighter whose name doesn’t start with the letter “G”.
And while Chiaotzu was made less ominous and more of a joke by the time Dragon Ball Z rolled around, his powers remained unique. Any fan of the series remembers when Chiaotzu tried to turn himself into an energy bomb so he could self-destruct and take the psychopathic Saiyan Nappa with him. Like most trick plays, it didn’t work, but the few suspenseful moments in which it played out were worth the it. Of course, that was also the last time Chiaotzu got his due. Every time after that he usually ended up being the first one to get taken out when a fight broke out, like in Tree of Might, or sidelined to a few establishing shots sporting cool costumes, like in the Buu Saga. In History of Trunks, a narrator even recalls how each Z fighter was killed by the movie’s villains, except for Chiaotzu who’s momentarily shown but never actually mentioned.
The series’ video game adaptations haven’t been much kinder. But they do have one advantage which is that, ultimately, players can do what they want. In the games that do include Chiaotzu, like the Budokai Tenkaichi and Raging Blast series, you can play as the little telekinetic ghost child until your heart’s content. This means trading in all of the Kamehamehas for some Dodon Rays and having some fun throwing rocks at opponents or, better yet, copying their moves thanks to a mysterious aptitude for mimicry. Chiaotzu might never have been an A or B tier character in any of the Dragon Ball or Dragon Ball Z fighting games, but the plethora of support and dodge abilities at his disposal always made him more fun and interesting to play than most.
While you could certainly argue that Tien shares a number of these abilities, and so making them a combined character for Dragon Ball FighterZ is efficient, there’s still the size factor. Dragon Ball Z games are always notorious for reusing the same mid-sized and XL character models. Adding another pint-sized fighter to the cast helps even things out a bit. Not to mention the fact that Chiaotzu was already snubbed in both Xenoverse and Xenoverse 2. Since we won’t be seeing him make a proper appearance in Dragon Ball FighterZ, who knows if we’ll ever see him again, honestly.
Unlike the anime, which continued to lean into ever growing power levels to the point where Goku’s hair transformations could double as their own mini-Skittles commercials, the series’ video game adaptations have always presented opportunities to bring things back down to earth. In a game things need to be balanced, canon be damned. You want to play as a Saibaman? Well then the game will give you a fighting chance to beat anyone else, including Goku himself, as a little, green hobgoblin. Even if Chiaotzu was never going to get to see all of his hard work and training pay off in the anime, at least fans could take him for a stroll in the games and watch him kick some serious ass.
That’s just me though. For whatever reason I’ve always had a soft spot Chiaotzu, even though he’s barely gotten to do anything in the last two decades. There are a number of other absences from Dragon Ball FighterZ’s starting lineup, most notably the series’ women. For all of its androids it doesn’t have one of the best of all: Arale. Bulma in a mech feels like another easy choice that could have helped change things up a bit from the gajillion different versions of Super Saiyan that currently anchor the list.
What about you? There’s no doubt Dragon Ball FighterZ will have plenty of DLC additions planned for the coming months. Who are you hoping Arc System Works adds to the game later down the line?