Dragon Ball: Origins Hands-On

We go back to Goku's childhood to find out how it all began.

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Before Dragon Ball Z, there was Dragon Ball, which followed young Goku on his quest to hunt down the seven dragon balls with his friend Bulma. Unlike other Dragon Ball Z games, Dragon Ball: Origins on the Nintendo DS is an action adventure role-playing game where there is a mix of exploring and puzzle-solving, but there is plenty of action as well. The 3D character animations also stood out quite a bit when we got some hands-on time with this game at Atari's Gamer Day in San Francisco.

Goku clearly didn't see that one coming.

The game is split into episodes so that once you complete a small section of the game, you can save and return to that particular area whenever you wish. The amount of time it takes you to complete the area and the chests that you open will also be documented. When we opened the episode menu, we saw roughly 50 squares scattered across the touch screen, so there seems to be quite a bit of story and content in Origins. As mentioned previously, the storyline starts off with Goku as a young boy who meets Bulma, an inventor searching for the legendary dragon balls. She quickly finds out that Goku is in possession of one of them, but he is very attached to it, calling it grandpa. Together they agree to go off in search of the remaining dragon balls.

Origins can be played entirely with the stylus, or you can choose to use the D pad and map the buttons to corresponding attacks. The controls are very responsive with the stylus, so it's fairly easy to do everything you need with the touch screen. To attack, all you have to do is tap on the enemy. At the bottom of the touch screen, you'll find your health meter and energy meter, as well as the weapon you have selected. The energy meter will recharge on its own and prevents you from spamming powerful attacks, so you'll have to pace yourself. A fist icon will be at the bottom to represent Goku's hand-to-hand attack, and if you tap it once, it'll switch to his power pole. His pole has a wide range, and you can also click on Goku, then drag the stylus away from him to swing the pole in a 180-degree arc to damage a cluster of enemies--in our case, it was an assortment of pigs. Keeping the stylus on Goku himself will charge him up for a dash, and you just need to drag the stylus in the direction you want him to go. We were told by the producer that, eventually, you'll be able to unleash your powerful Kamehameha by tapping the letters that pop up on screen and then directing where you want your beam to go.

As smart as Bulma is supposed to be, she isn't very useful when traveling because she'll tag along mindlessly, and you'll have to clear the path or provide a bridge for her in order for her to stay with you. She can't jump, whereas Goku automatically jumps when he approaches a ledge. Part of the puzzle-solving elements have Goku move boulders and rocks so that Bulma can keep up with him. In a fight, she does do her part by pulling out her gun and taking a few shots, but Goku will do the bulk of the fighting. You can upgrade Bulma's weapon later on so that she can keep up. We fought several groups of pigs, which would drop a steaming pork bun when they died. If you've ever had a pork bun, you'll have an idea about what first came across our minds when we saw the plump mound.

Don't think these guys drop steamed pork buns.

As you're fighting and exploring, you'll have an isometric view, which expands across both screens. The visuals and music are done very well in Origins. The 3D character animations look great, with Goku and Bulma making hilarious facial expressions when they get excited or are surprised. The art is different from the bulked-up characters in the Dragon Ball Z universe because they're children, but the back and forth banter between Bulma and Goku is amusing. The overall tone also feels lighthearted and fun. The environments that we wandered around in were vibrant and clean, making it relatively easy to navigate.

Throughout the adventure, Goku may find or buy figurines, which can be traded with friends via Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection. If you enjoy exploring every nook and cranny, there are 200 to collect. Those who want to learn more about Dragon Ball lore can start from the beginning when Dragon Ball: Origins is released in November.

Discussion

38 comments
geotio
geotio

Looks Beautiful! I appreciate the work and time on it. It doesn't look like it's just thrown together.

Nignarv3
Nignarv3

Man I loved the DBZ games for the GBA. This will be a nice addition I think. Being a big fan of the series I think it's great something old school is coming out.

GatCloudX
GatCloudX

sweet i like the dragonball series alot

Megaman_ex
Megaman_ex

Being a Fan of the anime i am looking forward in buying the game.

viewtifullee
viewtifullee

sum thing like L of zelda.....in a good way

Internetotaku
Internetotaku

Awesome. Glad to see a game from the original Dragon Ball, and it looks good.

axelviiii
axelviiii

Dragonball was an amazing anime. And hilarious.

dxf-Kicker
dxf-Kicker

I'll probably buy it, if it comes to Denmark.

nejijr
nejijr

if you liked dbz legacy of goku then you'll love this only thing is that some times the controls miss up but that's like 2 out of ten

link631
link631

it just came out in japan

RPG_Hacker
RPG_Hacker

Well I've already completed half the game in Japanese. It IS a good game. Even if sometimes the controls make a few problems, but that's really not thaaaat bad. The only thing that makes me sad is that this game does only feature two sagas of Dragon Ball and doesn't even have the most exciting ones included.

darksega50
darksega50

Hey, not bad at all. All the dragonball Z games like legacy of goku 1&2 and Buu's fury did certainly not dissapoint. All I have to do is get A Ds

vivvav
vivvav

I've always thought there should be a game on the original Dragonball. They barely use anything from it in the current games. I'd like to say this looks amazing, but every Gamespot Preview I'm interested in says it's good, then gives the full game a bad review. But we'll see. Dragonball games are very good compared to most games based on TV or Movies.

1407
1407

how do you have it if its gonna be release nov 4?, you have the JP version?

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

Wow! A Dragon Ball that runs like a Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword or Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.

washi95
washi95

ive got it now and it rules it plays up to the end of the second season of the anime i think

zig_star
zig_star

yay!!! This game will be so kickbutt im soo excited :)

ang3larmy
ang3larmy

rhis game looks pretty cool. However I dont like how bulma is sort of useless in the games. she is one of the main characters in the book

TeenGamer92
TeenGamer92

So far, this game looks pretty decent. I'm not sure that I like the whole having to create paths and clear the way for Bulma. I'll have to wait for more info on this game.

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

I still wish they recreated the NES series RPG games for Dragon Ball Z ... i grew up on those games! :D

child_of_lileth
child_of_lileth

looks pretty decent. i might buy it when i see more of the development when it gets closer to bein finished

King_Chozo
King_Chozo

Considering the portable Dragonball games have been the only decent Dragonball games to come out of Atari, I think I'll have to get this one. :) It looks sharp and knowing that I'm not forced to used the stylus is always a plus.

OHJOY90
OHJOY90

This game looks quite good so far, it certainly has potential to be a good or even a great game, we'll just have to wait and see.

SUPER_FLY_
SUPER_FLY_

the visuals look great for ds but i dont think ill be getting this

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

I just cant play anything DB/DBZ related anymore. I know and have done everything I can possibly get out of this franchise.

yonaswii08
yonaswii08

this looks to be the overall best nintendo ds game.

Alphamale001
Alphamale001

Not a big fan of the Dragon Ball series, but this looks awesome. I am waiting for Funimation to do the Dragon Ball sets like they are doing with the DBZ sets. It is amazing what they have done to the picture quality. Having them on DVD is turning me into more of a DB/DBZ fan though. Can't wait to get my hands on this game though.