Dragon Ball Z: Kyoushuu! Saiyajin
Review by Aganar
"It's like the other games...but now its Dragonball Z!"
First of all, allow me to apologize to anyone who was misinformed by me. I gave the credit to the card game RPG formula that this game uses to its successor, DBZ 2. I was going to retract the statement and give it to this game, but I was also misinformed. The formula was actually created 3 games earlier from the original Dragonball RPG. Man, do I feel stupid. Oh well.
For those who don't know, Dragonball Z is a popular anime in Japan (and in the US now). Before it hit the US, there were several games made for earlier systems, like the SNES and NES. Dragonball Z focused around a team of superhuman fighters as they defended the Earth, and the entire universe from evil forces. As they progress they become more and more powerful, learning new moves along the way. Its popularity was mostly based around fans of the previous series, but new fans were mainly attracted to the large-scale fight scenes done extremely frequently in DBZ. When the RPGs came out, some wondered how the combat would be kept in a turn-based game. But, despite skepticism, Bandai managed to pull it off and make a pretty good game.
In battle, you select from your available array of characters. Once you decide, you select a card for him to attack with. The card, labeled with a small symbol in the bottom right corner, a symbol in the middle, and one in the top right corner, determines how your character will attack. The symbol in the middle doesn't really matter much, and is for the most part just for show, unless it is a KI symbol. The top-right symbol determines its attack strength, ranging from 1 star to 6 stars, and finally a Z for the most powerful. Defense symbols simply vary, some being more powerful than others, also containing a Z for the most powerful. If the card you select is a KI card, your character will be allowed to tap into his Chi energy (basically this game's form of MP) and perform a KI blast. Different KI blasts require different amounts of energy, ranging in power in effect. A blast only requiring 10 KI might just be a small fireball, whereas a blast requiring 50 KI might be a huge beam.
When a character and an enemy square off, it becomes just an exchanging of blows. The cards determine the damage done and the damage taken. If one of your characters has a 5 star attack and a Z defense versus an enemy with a 2 star attack and a low defense card, you will do a lot of damage and receive little, whereas he will do little and receive a lot. A character's Power Level (a measurement of power unique to each character, usually determined by their level) also factors greatly into damage. Most of the enjoyment of the game comes from just training your favorite characters and letting them pound down the enemies, or use their signature moves.
If it were a Dragon Quest type battle system, players would get bored very fast. We bought the thing to see our favorite guys fight. So, Bandai made each turn into a cinematic battle. Two fighters pair off and begin fighting. Whoever is attacking at the moment will usually make the last blow, and the other play will receive damage, whereupon the enemy will soon retaliate. The visuals for the time are very well done. While they are super-deformed on the overmap, they switch to detailed models once they go into the battle mode. When a character uses a KI blast, it switches to an almost anime cut scene of them firing it. Overall, it looks pretty good for its time. Now however it looks a little dated, especially when compared to some of the later titles.
Story follows that of the beginning Saga in Dragonball Z. The alien Raditz arrives on Earth, only to tell our main hero Goku, that he is not a human at all, but a Saiyajin. After a fierce battle between Raditz, Goku and his longtime rival Piccolo are able to join together and defeat him. Goku dies, and with Piccolo's quick speech before Raditz dies, his overseers are able to hear of the mystical Dragonballs, and decide to journey to Earth. The game leads up to their arrival, and ending with the final fight between Goku and the Saiyajin prince, Vegeta.
Besides the few clinks you hear when characters clash, there isn't that much sound. Basically all of them fall into the ''blow, button, or blast'' category. Physical moves usually fall into the blow, any item falls into the button, and KI attacks fall into the blast. While I like the title screen music quite a bit, the rest of the music is mediocre. Most of them sound way too happy considering the usually dark mood of the show.
The game has its fair share of flaws. For one thing, it's too short! All it covers is 1 saga of the show, and the saga itself was one of the shorter ones to begin with! Once the final battle between Goku and Vegeta occurs, the game is over. There's no reason to play through it again since there's really nothing to unlock (being that there is no equipment), and there aren't alternate endings to anything. Besides that, the game is REALLY hard. Without being able to make it over to a rest house, your characters will quickly die in the beginning.
Besides that, it's a solid game. DBZ fans will take delight in the relatively good adaptation of the series to cartridge. While some areas leave something to be desired, overall it's a pretty good game. However, since there are now many other games that cover the same portions and improve on everything, you are going to find very few who actually play it. If you really have to see it on the NES, then by all means. But, if you want an identical game with a longer story, better sound, better graphics, and more to unlock, just get Legend of the Super Saiyajin for the SNES, or the recently released Legacy of Goku for the GBA.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 09/30/03
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