Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku Review
It doesn’t matter whether some people think of it as a testament to the power of manga and anime or a blasphemy to its existence: the Dragon Ball Z universe is an entity of its own. Little wonder that so many Dragon Ball-oriented games have come out since the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Few of these games have made it past Japan, and one is left to wonder why, especially considering the popularity of the television shows in North America. Look no further than Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku, and you will see a perfect example of why these games have run their paths to obscurity.
While the game has most of the traditional console-RPG elements, the battle system is best described as adventure-style, similar to the Zelda or Seiken Densetsu games. Throughout the entire game, RPGamers play as Goku, who battles his way through various locales. Goku also has a certain amount of flight power that he can use to escape enemies or climb ledges, and it is recharged by picking up items on the field. He uses three different attacks, most of which are gained during plot events. The Ki Blast, Solar Flare, and Kamehameha Attack can be charged as well by holding down the B button, but this also requires a large amount of ‘Ki Power’ which can be charged by waiting or using items. The whole thing just did not seem coherent or well written to me, and greatly took away from what little enjoyment I found in this game.
Item usage is fairly straightforward, as is much of the status menu. There isn’t much information to display, but the basics are given: Ki Power Level, Experience Level, and any healing or special items that Goku may have on him. It’s a little confusing to get used to at first, and there have been plenty Game Boy Classic games with more sophisticated menus — but given the scope of the game, it works fine.
Much like the status menus, the plot is barebones as well. Dragon Ball fans will of course appreciate the fact that the individual characters more or less stay true to their personalities when Goku talks to them — the old man is still a pervert, for those who really want to know. Your mission is fairly straightforward: Save an alien planet from destruction by archrival Frieza. It may not be the most original thinking, but at the same time, fans of the series will recognize all of the traditional elements while sticking to the same premise.
In all due respect to the artwork and the power of the Game Boy Advance console, graphics are pretty well done — especially in the cutscenes. Akira Toriyama’s creations are well-recognized, and fortunately these weren’t too warped even in battle. For an otherwise meek game, the graphics live up to the creator’s reputation. It is something else to see a smiling Goku with angel wings after he dies in battle.
Music and sounds are surprisingly tolerable as well, though are nowhere as great as the graphics. The overworld themes never get annoying, which is a bonus. In addition, the game’s sound effects are made obvious. In a nod to Goku’s ultimate attack, anytime RPGamers release the Kamehameha attack, they are treated to Goku yelling “KAMEHAMEHA!” Thanks to the console’s speakers, everyone can hear it quite clearly…similar to very early efforts with voice clips on the Super Famicom system.
In large part to the DBZ universe’s large fan base in North America, localization was not a problem. Any game with the series name on it will do a fair amount of sales, and Infogrames was smart enough not to err on the translation efforts.
Even so, it remains a particularly short, unexciting, and ridiculously easy game. Goku maxes out his experience levels at 25, which can be done in less than 5 hours. Doing this not only makes random encounters ridiculously easy, but it also makes the final boss fights a breeze. Even then, it’s not necessary to go that far. Once Goku masters the Kamehameha Attack, his competition doesn’t stand a chance.
Infogrames seems to have jumped on the chance to cash in on a Dragon Ball game, which is intelligent from a business standpoint. It’s entirely possible that there are some ten-year-olds who love this game, and Legacy of Goku could be used as a primer RPG, if you will. Even in that sense, there are other titles that would be more appropriate. Needless to say, when an exceptional Dragon Ball title comes out, it will be due time for RPGamers to yell “Kamehameha!”