Review by Arkrex

"I got balls, lots of 'em, 7 to be exact, don't steal"

Dragon Ball is a light-hearted tale of a young boy who actually had a tail! It debuted in Japan a long, long time ago and its successor, Dragonball Z, went on to become one of the most popular anime series ever, gathering a massive fanbase from both the homeland and abroad. The more serious angle that DBZ took made it superior to its predecessor in nearly every way. That's the show I'm referring to of course. Videogame-wise, DBZ has been awash with plenty of failures, only recently having produced some quality titles by the way of the Budokai series.

Dragon Ball hasn't been milked in the same way, and Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure is only one of few titles that make use of the original's property. Surprisingly it also happens to be one of the most enjoyable side-scrolling beat 'em ups I've had the chance to play, and the fact that it's portable Dragon Ball on the go makes it that much more sweet.

Visuals - 9
Sound & Music - 8
Gameplay - 8
Controls - A
Longevity - B
(2-3 hours)
Replayability - B
(Bonus character modes and a long list of collectibles to seek out)
Difficulty - Easy

Fun Factor - 9

Advanced Adventure follows Goku's plight to collect all the Dragon Balls and summon the eternal dragon Shenron. Just like in the anime he meets a diverse cast of supporting characters along the way, and each are well represented whether you fight them, save them or just talk to them. If you are unfamiliar with the show, the dialogue and story-telling is simple enough to follow, yet it doesn't reveal all the surprises in case you may want to have the pleasure of watching it in the future without having been too spoilt. Hardcore fans may complain that the plot is butchered in this production, but having 153 half-hour episodes condensed into a single 2-3 hour gaming experience really couldn't have been done any better.

Each level looks like it came straight out of the anime, whether you're whacking the Red Ribbon Army soldiers with your trusty rod, or lugging Kamehamehas sky-high whilst riding the Flying Nimbus. It's a button-bashing game and thus fairly simple for anyone to pick up and play. I'm normally the type who prefers more skillful and precise controls, but the comic kung-fu that you can pull off here makes the beginner-friendly layout extremely fun. Just like how I enjoyed Kingdom Hearts despite its relatively braindead button-mashing, I enjoyed slapping all the weird and colourful enemies that came unto me from all directions relentlessly and non-stop.

Most levels have you going through from start to finish, laying waste to everything in your path. At any point when you start thinking, "hmm.. I think it's getting a bit stale.." the next level will do a turn-around and have you doing something else to break the tension before monotony sets in. You may be asked to catch Korin the cat a couple of times to prove that you're worthy of drinking the mystical water, or go one-on-one with a boss character that you have inadvertently flustered.

Then there's the World Martial Arts Tournament that has you going through a mini-tourney where the rules are different, and so too are the controls! Now it's more like a 2D fighting game, kind of like Street Fighter II lite. You can play this mode outside of the main game with practically all the Dragon Ball cast, even engaging with a fellow human if he/she fulfills the requirements to connect to you (own GBA, game, linker). It's not deep by any means, but it's great fun to stun your opponent before rocketing them into the stratosphere, only to follow them up and forcefully bring them back down to hard, rocky earth. There's nothing wrong with it seeing as it really is just a mini-game of sorts, but if had been more fleshed out it would definitely have taken the cake and made this adventure something not to be missed. Yes I know there's Supersonic Warriors, but Chibi Goku > Adult Goku :P

The adventure is over rather quickly, and the lack of levels does sting quite a bit for those looking for a true 'advanced' take on Dragon Ball. But if it was made too long, it probably would have gotten too repetitive. To make up for the short main game length, we've got the World Tournament mode mentioned just before, plus a bounty of unlockable characters to use both in and out of the main quest. This means you can play through again albeit with slightly different abilities each time. Sure it's artificial replayability in a way, but it at least it doesn't force the less willing gamer to blast through too much if all they want is to see it to the end just once or twice. Once you're tired of it, put it down, play some other games, and then come back to it when you get bored again; you'll find playing this has suddenly become a lot of fun again!

This is old-school gaming spruced up with some of the spiffiest sprites the GBA is capable of drawing. The design could have possibly been less linear, but it makes for a game that is loaded with thrills aplenty. Lots of stuff happens on-screen and when you're flipping bad guys over your head and smacking wolves with a multi-hit combo going from fists to extendable rod to speed flurries to that big famous fireball, it all happens with barely a hitch in the lighting-fast framerate. Very impressive. From the outset you can choose your difficulty level, but it's not a very hard game which ever way you go; this is what makes lil' Goku's GBA outing arguably the best single player DB/Z/GT videogame, easily accessible and guaranteed fun for all audiences. If you play it and don't like it, there's something seriously wrong with you.

8.5/10 - True to the spirit of the anime

My Score System – a score of 7 from me denotes a good, solid game. Excellence earns a higher grade, whilst 4-6 reflects a below average product; glitchy, unplayable games deserve less.


Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/17/07

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