Dragon Ball Z Legend of the Super Saiyan - Reader Retroview  

Kurae… Makankosappu!
by JuMeSyn

30-40 hours


Rating definitions 

   Dragon Ball/Z: love it, hate it, or ignore it, the series is known to everyone who might be reading this review. Naturally, in a series that ran for 10 years in Japan and is only now coming to the last content Funimation can squeeze money from in North America; there are video game adaptations aplenty. Unsurprisingly the majority are fighting games of decidedly variable quality. Along the way there have been some other genres explored, however, and Legend of the Super Saiyajin is most definitely an RPG. Of what quality can be debated quite a bit – I’ll just begin hitting its main points now. The caveat should be stated that anyone with no positive interest in Dragon Ball/Z is advised to never touch this game; ‘for fans only’ applies indisputably here.

   That caveat begins with the story, naturally. Anyone who has not invested time into the early episodes of Dragon Ball Z will be entirely unimpressed at the minimal story here, although this oddly makes the game easy to import. Perhaps the English text on the box will make clear what caliber of writing is to be found here:

Honestly, why are you even reading this if you DON'T know what that move is?  For the uninitiated, this shares its name with a Hawaiian king. Honestly, why are you even reading this if you DON'T know what that move is? For the uninitiated, this shares its name with a Hawaiian king.

   The strongest man in the space, SON GOKOU fights the series of the terrible baitles for our space. Burning blood!! That’s where the legend of Super Saiya-jin starts from.

   Every word of the above is taken from the box; no alterations have been made.

   For anyone desiring a more informative take upon the story of this game, an encapsulation follows: Son Goku and his archenemy Piccolo the Devil (actually the second Piccolo, as Goku killed his father and the father transferred his power to the son at the moment of death), are forced to team up in order to fight Raditz, Goku’s heretofore-unknown older brother. Raditz has kidnapped Goku’s son Gohan in order to prompt Goku to act more like his Saiyajin heritage would dictate. In the battle that develops, Goku and Raditz are killed, Raditz makes clear that the only other surviving Saiyajin are on the way to Earth for the instruments that can revive Goku (the Dragon Balls), and Gohan is taken away by Piccolo the Devil for training, given that his previously unseen power was instrumental in defeating Raditz. This leads into a great battle with the two other Saiyajin, which results in the death of Piccolo, who is intrinsically linked with God due to being a purged part of God’s soul, and thus the death of one means the death of the other. To revive God and Piccolo the remaining Earth warriors (Gohan, Kuririn, Yamucha, Tenshinhan, and Chaozu – although any but Gohan can die with Piccolo if the player is careless) travel to the planet of God and Piccolo’s origin, Namek, revealed as such by the Saiyajin. There the original Dragon Balls can be used to wish them back to life; but it seems the most powerful known figure in the universe, Freeza, desires the Dragon Balls for himself.

   This encapsulation is lengthy because it compresses an enormous amount of storyline into a paragraph, but most of it is barely hinted at in the game. The exposition in Legend of the Super Saiyajin is of the barest minimum, with fighting taking up the vast majority of the game. So the battle system must now be analyzed, and it is at the very least different. Turn-based card battles sound somewhat less interesting than they turn out to be. At the beginning of every battle 5 cards are present. Each of them has a symbol in the center indicating what type of attack that card will produce, and a symbol along the top and bottom. The top symbol is easy to decipher; a number of dots from one to seven (or a Z denoting the highest possible) is the attack power. The bottom symbol is actual Japanese and may take a bit of familiarization to remember, but again it goes from one to seven (or a Z) and signifies the defensive strength of the card. Up to 5 characters can attack each round, or only one. The different attack styles dependent upon the central card symbol are most important if the card type a character has an affinity with is chosen; that character will then attack every enemy instead of just one. ‘Ki’ cards allow the use of those energy blast-type attacks everyone with any knowledge of Dragon Ball knows about.

His name is TenShinHan, people.  And his Shishin no Ken is an awesome move because it is the ONLY one in the entire game that is 100% undodgeable. His name is TenShinHan, people. And his Shishin no Ken is an awesome move because it is the ONLY one in the entire game that is 100% undodgeable.

   Only the character(s) attacking in any given round will be subject to enemy reprisals, also. This is very useful if someone is weaker than the enemies. And strength is very important in this game. Experience performs the usual function; upon gaining the necessary amount, characters go up a level and their HP, attack and defense increase. Also, however, their battle power goes up. Again, veterans of the Dragon Ball universe know what battle power signifies. Fortunately its omnipresence in the series has been scaled down, such that a Tenshinhan with battle power of 1,748 can actually do damage against Nappa with 4,000 battle power. Battle power goes beyond nominal defense and attack power, however; if someone tries hitting Freeza and does not have enough battle power, even a Z attack strength and a 1 defense for Freeza will result in no damage being done. The result of this is to make the player fight constantly. For the final battle the player has little choice but to pump every character up to their maximum level – which will require several hours of doing nothing but fighting. The battles are fun for awhile, as they depict each character fighting it out with the enemy via hand-to-hand combat, but they tend to drag on as the game progresses and get very boring later on.

   One reason this game is easy to import is the minimal interaction required. The battle system is easy to understand, items are easy to use also (although some of them require a FAQ or a good memory to know what their usage results in). It gets tiresome to move through the same process for every fight however; especially if the player wants to preserve a particularly strong card for a boss battle. Using the AI option will make battles play themselves out, except not only does the AI make questionable decisions (better than some newer games though), it will automatically use every card available. Sorting through the attack options manually takes much longer. The ability to fly, as everyone in the battle party can manage, must be mentioned, though the random battles seem to come at an increased pace when in flight. Flight is a single button press of ‘Y’ away.

   Graphics are pretty good for 1992, actually. Outside of battle they do not impress in any way, but manage to be functional; when there are barely 10 buildings on the entire chunk of Earth in any given part of the game, why must they all look the same? In battle the graphics look quite good, which is important when the vast majority of the player’s time will be spent in battle. Characters look pretty close to their manga/anime representations when engaging in fisticuffs with the opposition. Fighting in the air means enemies can be smashed into the ground below; fighting on the ground means they can be punted into a rock pile. Ki attacks look pretty good, although there are so few of them that the player will probably become rather tired of their animations.

   The music, on the other hand, suffers from repetition in the extreme. There aren’t many pieces of music: one for Earth, one for any indoor location, one for training, one for Namek, one for story sequences, one for Ki training, one for caves, and the battle music. Be prepared for the battle music, as it will insert itself into one’s mind forevermore. Even now that damned irritating tune is stuck in my mind… and there is no other battle music. Random battles, bosses, fighting a gauntlet for shopping points; the same battle music is used in all of it. The final battle with Freeza does feature a new battle theme, and by virtue of its novelty sounds pretty good; but then a semi-secret battle afterwards is the same damn battle music! With the sheer amount of time spent in battles the player will hear this thing more than all the other music combined, and it will get unpleasant long before the end of the game. Sound effects are decidedly unimpressive, though not to the same level of irritation as that damned battle music.

   Early battles in this game are quite challenging, because the random encounters will cease after a certain level is reached and there is no way to get any stronger. Later battles can be very unpleasant if the player runs from combat frequently. The final battle with Freeza is a brutal grind unless the player uses a certain tactic to make Goku become Super Saiyajin. Most random battles are just boring, however; no challenge to be found in them. The game will probably take around 35 hours to complete, with nothing beyond getting lost to stretch the playtime out. There is another ending to unearth, but it does not require replaying the game; simply save before the final battle and do something different (I will not say exactly what is required).

   Properly recommending this game is difficult. To anyone who is intrigued by a playable RPG-format exposition of the Dragon Ball mythos, this will be a relatively worthwhile title. To anyone who would rather not deal with Dragon Ball, stay away. The game is most memorable for using characters one should have a familiarity with, and without that familiarity the endless fighting will be intolerable. Any readers in the former camp might raise the rating as high as 3.5; in the latter camp the rating will probably sink to 1 or 1.5.

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