|Dragon Ball: Origins|
|Genre||Panty-filled action adventure
|Buy from Amazon|
When most people think of Dragon Ball, they think of energy blasts, non-stop fights against aliens, and dozens of episodes where the only thing happening is veins bulging. But once upon a time, Dragon Ball was a simple kung fu adventure show starring a kid with a monkey tail that was loosely-kinda-sorta-maybe based off of the classic Chinese tale “Journey to the West.” Dragon Ball: Origins takes us back to this simpler time before Goku was a demigod and every other thing wanted to blow up Earth, and delivers a solid adventure for old and new fans.
Manga on your DS: One of the game’s highlights isn’t battling dozens of enemies and pulling off cool attacks, but actually just sitting back and re-experiencing the original story. The game covers the beginning of Goku’s legendary journey to the end of the first martial arts tournament. If what I said made no sense to you, let’s just say it covers the first few arcs of the story, meaning the first four manga volumes or the first thirty episodes (Dragon Ball: Origins 2, which was recently released, covers the next few arcs). The story is told through well-produced cutscenes, and feature many classic moments from the first few arcs. If you’ve never read or watched the original show before, the game gives you more than enough information to follow it. At times, it was like watching a remake of the anime. They don’t hold back on the most infamous and risqué moments either, so people who watched the edited TV show on American TV might be a little surprised.
Everything from a flurry of fists to pole poking: Goku can use either his fists or his power pole, and each have a variety of attacks. Do you want to take out your opponent with a running punch, or blow it away with a gust of wind created by your pole? Some enemies can only be taken with specific attacks, so you can’t always rely on just one. I found myself relying on my fists more than anything, but the pole is good for multiple enemies and puzzles. And yes, you do learn the kamehameha, but it’s a bit tough to do quickly so you can only use it practically in certain situations. But, it is immensely satisfying to pull off a fully charged one right into your opponent.
I finally unlocked that Villager E figure!: The game has quite a bit of content. The main story mode only takes about ten hours, but other missions unlock afterwards. You can always replay missions for higher rankings, and many treasure chests in the levels are rather well hidden so you may want to play multiple times to get them all. There are also 200 figurines to collect, which are basically just character models. You can zoom in on them and move them around. This may sound pretty lame, but the game has some surprisingly good character models, so they are fun to look at.
Goku vs. the World: While you can just pound most enemies into oblivion, boss battles require a bit more strategy and skill. Plus you can use attacks you never really get to use before. When you reach the World Martial Arts Tournament, your healing items and power pole is taken away from you, so you really have to strategize. The final boss may not look like much, but he will definitely make you refocus on how you fight.
Maze of Doom: The game is broken up into missions, meaning there is no overworld and no towns. You buy items and increase Goku’s skills from the mission select menu. Most missions throw you into some maze, and you keep navigating until you finally find your way out. There are some branching paths that may hide a secret chest, but most of the time it is fairly straight forward. It can get rather repetitive going in a straight line and fighting the same enemies. Some missions are more varied than others, but a lot of the time you will just make a bee-line to the exit.
Puzzles Never Forget: The game has some puzzles, but they are mostly of the block-pushing and switch-flipping variety. You won’t find any Ico inspired brain twisters here. However, there are some puzzles where if you mess up, you have to re-enter the room. Not too bad, but sometimes the exit is so far away and the puzzle took so much effort that it is a real time-waster.
Touch Troubles: You can move Goku around with the D-Pad, but all attacking is done via the stylus. You basically just tap the enemy you want to pummel, but some attacks require specific movements. It can be finicky at times, and it’s difficult to hit faster enemies. I could never really pull off some techniques like teleporting either. I often found myself accidentally doing the wrong moves. The touch controls are not totally unresponsive, but you will find yourself grinding your teeth every now and then.
Can I Fly My Nimbus Cloud to a Save Point?: Missions can take anywhere from five to thirty minutes. In the ones that take thirty minutes, there is normally just one save point at the end. No, the developers of Persona 3 didn’t work on this game, but you’d never know it.
It’s hard not to fall for the charm of the original series, especially the early episodes. Goku was a goofy kid, Bulma was a typical teenager, and Yamcha was actually useful. I laughed and smiled a lot during this game, and I can imagine people who are experiencing Dragon Ball for the first time will have a similar reaction. The game looks great and fighting is fun, but it can be a repetitive droll at times. There is some variety in missions now and then, but I would like to see it focus more on exploring in the sequels. It’s a solid title though, and it’s easy to find for about $10. If you want to experience Dragon Ball but don’t want to sit through dozens of episodes to do it, this game is what you’re looking for.