Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku sucked. Let there be no doubt about that. Nonetheless, with the money they made from it, Webfoot has taken the (very small amount of) good things about the game and made an acceptable sequel.
The appeal of the DBZ games is the fact that they are DBZ games. Tying in with the television series is key in attracting the fans. Legacy of Goku II does this nicely. In its mere 20 or so hours of gameplay, it manages to capture approximately one-third of the hit show. The debut of Trunks, the Android saga, and the Cell games are all there. Fans of the show who find that difficult to believe would do well to remember that the program is pretty well all dialogue anyway. At any rate, in addition to Goku, players assume control of Gohan, Trunks, Vegeta, and Piccolo. That is a significant improvement right there. All the characters are handled one at a time – there is no party system to speak of.
The game also shows its size by the fact that it has over 200 rooms and areas to visit, including ten big maps. The world map can be accessed through the multiple map points scattered around the game. The character can then fly freely over the world, with the limitation of only being able to land in set locations. This implementation is reminiscent of Secret of Mana's (3D) world map, except that Goku's landing spots are conveniently labeled.
Leveling up is accomplished through defeating enemies, as in normal RPGs. In addition to powering up the characters, levels also allow players to transgress the level doors, rather ugly affairs with big blue level numbers on top of them as "clues" regarding the minimum level needed to pass by them. This artificial system is one example of the juvenile targeting of the game. Another is the nearly excessive tutorial at the beginning.
Battle is carried out in a typical action RPG style. There is no change of screen for any 2D fighter style battles, as one might have expected (or hoped?). The Dragon-ballers encounter their foes in the main screen, and they dispatch them either with their martial-arts melee attacks or with expendable energy projectiles. The player has to be frustratingly close to an opponent to successfully punch them, an annoyance compounded by the fact that the enemies seem to move randomly, and are therefore needlessly unpredictable. The energy blasts are more effective, but they take away from a green bar every time they are used. It's not really a problem though, as there are many rocks and other obstacles that can be broken to reveal power-ups. In the previous game, the player could acquire a whole variety of energy attacks. This sequel does boast some interesting additions to the battle system, namely the ability to move diagonally and the chance to turn Super Saiyan. Undoubtedly this form grants many special faculties.
The best thing going for the original Goku was the graphics. They were very respectable, and all of Akira Toriyama's characters were recognizable, if not done the same justice that some of his other creations have received in the past. The anime cutscenes are implemented well on the GBA's hardware, but it is noticeable how poorly the music fits the drama. Throughout the game, the music does capture the mood well, but it still screams "video game music!" Adding up all the tracks in the game only yields one hour total, although maybe that isn't so bad for a GBA game.
Coming from a nadir of handheld RPGs to a promising title for youngsters is quite an accomplishment for Webfoot. Amazing what a little extra development time can do. Perhaps Goku won't have such an abysmal legacy after all.