Review by grasu
"No matter how much of a fan you are, this game is not worth your money."
Ahh, the Dragon Ball franchise. How many things has it withstood? Angry fanboy rhetoric? Check. Tons of filler episodes with constipated-looking-characters? Check. Bad games? CHECK!!
I've played many bad games in my life, and I'm probably gonna play a lot more (if for no other reason than that I like DBZ) but few have been as bad as Dragon Power, a horrible Dragon Ball clone with no sense of self or of the story it tries to imitate.
These graphics might pass as decent but that would only happen if they'd actually function properly. I haven't seen such broken graphics in a NES game in my entire life! Bugs as well as bad animation are abundant in Dragon Power.
Your punches regularly go right THROUGH enemies; animation is so bad that the producers could've just wanted as easily cut it out all together. Enemy design is ludicrous and looks like it came from an Atari 2800 game, with small enemies and monochrome colors throughout.
Oh, and lets not forget the "diverse" monsters and environments. There's a dog, a blue dog, a dog with a sword and a bigger dog with a bigger sword and some dancing plates: They all look like they were drawn by a bunch of amateur artists in the last 20 minutes before the game shipped.
Saying that the sound in Dargon Power is eually as bad as the rest of the game is a huge understatement. The sound in Dragon Power is so poor that you might just want to turn it off before starting to play the game. The sound effects are virtually inexistent and are replaced by a bom on the screen 3 or 4 seconds before the actual sound kicks in and the music is composed of a handful of keys looped together endlessly. To say the least, this doesn't even come close to the greatness of Dragon Ball's actual sound.
What you get with Dragon Power in terms of gameplay is poor and that's a very generous statement. When I say that Dragon Power doesn't have "game" I really mean that this game is devoid of the fundamental requirements for it to become a game. It's just so broken, so incomplete, so unspecific and so confusing that it becomes an exercise in frustration before it becomes a game.
First off, let's take the story. Apparently you, Goku go out with some-chick-with-blue-hair (whose name is, oddly never specified but we assume it's Bulma) in search for some mysterious spheres, the Dragon Spheres. No reason as to why this is happening is given, but we all just assume Goku's craving an adventure just like he does in the anime. On the way to your final destination you meet a whole lot of funky characters, save a bunch of turtles and fight a shape-shifting pig among other things which are not appropriate for a public document.
What makes Dragon Power so boggling though is that this game doesn't even TRY to be a Dragon Ball game. Master Roshi, i.e. The Hermit, wants Bulma's "sandwich", Oolong is called something so bizarre that it took me a few minutes to figure it out, and more! Dragon Power doesn't explain your purposes in the story, it doesn't have an intro movie, it just leaves you hanging there and guessing if this really was inspired by Dragon Ball or if it was just the story of Monkey Boy from the old Chinese legends. To top it all off, the translation is so bad that it makes one wonder how much they paid the translator for his work
Whether or not you like the story doesn't really matter in Dragon Power since it's not very likely that you'll ever finish the game. Second big problem, this game has more bugs than one can possibly fit on a NES cartridge: clipping issues, random freezing, controller recognition problems, tasks that can't be completed, etc. However, assuming you do manage to get past the first level without getting stuck in a wall you'll find that there isn't much here for you. None of the mystery or grace of the Dragon Ball series come through in Dragon Power.
What Dragon Power is in terms of graphics and sound is vastly superior to its gameplay. Not only does this game feature about 4 levels but they're populated by just about the same monochrome monsters throughout. From bowl-like-things to dog-like-things the developers of Dragon Power must've ran out of ideas before they even began programming the game! Oh but don't you worry since it doesn't really matter how much variety there is in a game it just matters that you die while just standing there and that powerups are utterly broken and seem to grant random bonuses whenever you incidentally bump into them. Powerups come in the form of scrolls that are randomly dropped by monsters and when bumped into they spawn an object, be it the Power Pole or a senzu bean, somewhere in the screen that you're in. Why this is so, instead of just simple monster drops I do not know but, while broken, the approach is fairly original. Another small saving grace of Dragon Power is its level design. While the game might not benefit from lots of tile sets or high quality textures the fact that this game lets you wonder through levels a-la-Zelda is pretty nice.
The real problems with Dragon Power only start when you begin fighting. You want to be able to avoid enemy attacks? Keep dreaming, Dragon Power makes it impossible to for one to avoid most of the attacks that enemies throw their way! Despite the fact that you can jump and run wherever you want, due to the fact that you cannot jump over most enemies Dragon Power's boss fights become a chore as they don't let you avoid or block enemy attacks and force you to tank your way through them. This issue is somewhat more passable in the outside world as most monsters can be avoided but boss fights have you locked in rooms with your enemy and no way to avoid it by running, jumping, blocking, or whatever other technique you might think of.
Of course, assuming you have to actually get to the end of the levels first since Dragon Power doesn't really like to give you any powerups (other than random ones which spawn from randomly dropped scrolls, like previously discussed) or any instructions on how to complete your task. This makes the game stall for minutes at a time as you try to find your way around the level and as you try to figure out what to do. The problem only becomes serious because this game kills you off while just standing
Dragon Power is not a good game that should be readily obvious by now, but is it of any value to DBZ fans? The answer to that question is a resounding NO! Dragon Power isn't even worth it to the collector because it simply is so broken and so broken and non-coherent that it firmly establishes the bottom of the barrel for DBZ and NES games alike.
Reviewer's Rating: 0.5 - Unplayable
Originally Posted: 10/11/05
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