The fact that Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku sold more than 700,000 copies is a testament to the devotion felt by the fans of the popular animated series. Compared with other role-playing games on the Game Boy Advance, The Legacy of Goku was painfully straightforward, brief, and disappointing. In a perfect world, the game would have sat on store shelves collecting dust rather than chalking up record-setting sales. Thankfully, the sequel is a different matter altogether. Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II may pick up where the first game left off, but it's a far superior product in every conceivable way.
This time around, the story centers on a series of events from the television series, beginning with the Trunks Saga and running through the completion of the Cell Games--condensing 76 episodes into roughly 20 hours of gameplay. You initially assume the role of Trunks, who has traveled 16 years into the past to prepare the Z fighters for the arrival of two androids that will ultimately destroy Earth unless the group significantly improves their skills. As the game goes on, you'll eventually take control of four other characters--Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo, and Goku--that you can swap between anytime you like.
Aside from the ability to control multiple characters, another nice aspect of The Legacy of Goku II is that it doesn't force you to follow the events in the story as rigidly as the first game did. With a few exceptions, you can travel to any of the 15 or so locations in the game whenever you want. There are also a number of optional quests to complete, such as rounding up stray nameks and collecting golden capsules, which add further depth to the game by giving you the opportunity to wander away from the main story. If you're a fan of the show, you'll appreciate the look of the world map, which lets you fly between destinations in real time above a 3D representation of the terrain below.
For the most part, The Legacy of Goku II plays like a conventional action-oriented role-playing game. While walking around in the environment, you can easily interact with characters and objects with a single push of a button. Rocks can be destroyed to reveal items, and there are restricted areas that you can access depending on which character you're playing as. Each of the playable characters has his or her own set of regular and special attacks, and these attacks become stronger and more developed over the course of the game. Enemy characters don't really show much variety or skill when it comes to combat, so it's relatively simple to take care of most monsters in one-on-one fashion. Many of the smaller creatures in the game tend to attack in groups, however, so there's still a fair amount of challenge involved in making your way deep into an area on your first visit. The dozen or so bosses in The Legacy of Goku II are much larger than those found in the first game, and they're generally more difficult to defeat. As a result, sometimes you'll need to level up your character before facing the next major opponent. A journal on the status menu keeps track of your objectives, so you're never really at a loss as to what to do next if you put the game down for a few days.
The Legacy of Goku II isn't the kind of game that will knock your socks off if you consider yourself a fan of the action RPG genre. Fans of the cartoon series will totally dig it, however, because the game lets you experience events from the show in a hands-on fashion. A good example of this is a side quest that involves the collection of five different statues. Scattered throughout the land are five doorways that can be opened only by specific characters. To open one of the doors, you first need to train the appropriate character to a level-50 rating. Although time-consuming, the path to each individual statue is worth the effort, because along the way you'll be able to participate in a story tangent that's unique to the character you're playing as--in effect, giving you more background on events that only received a few minutes of attention in the TV series. An added bonus for finding all five statues is that Hercule will be unlocked as a playable character, which will allow you to see what happens when he takes credit for defeating Cell at the Cell Games. If you're a fan of Dragon Ball Z, these side quests will provide ample incentive to continue playing the game far and above the 20 hours required to finish the main story.
The graphics and audio also do a good job of capturing the look and feel of the animated series. Every location in the game features details that will be familiar to you if you've at least watched an episode or two. The markings on Goku's house, the beach furniture on Master Roushi's island, and the mug shot posters of Hercule are just a few touches to look out for. Many of the environments in the game also take advantage of the GBA's ability to display transparent or animated background layers, resulting in a number of realistic weather effects like mist, snow, rain, and blowing leaves. The animation for the characters isn't particularly fluid, but that isn't a significant problem since the characters themselves look so much like their TV counterparts and have a wide variety of different attacks. Even though the music and sound effects aren't taken straight from the TV series, the audio in The Legacy of Goku II is rather impressive. The sound effects used for attacks are clear and explosive, and the music has a cinematic quality to it, thanks to the abundant use of drawn-out melodies and dramatic drumbeats.
Even if you have just a passing interest in the Dragon Ball Z phenomenon, you'll probably enjoy what Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II has to offer. The game's primary goal is to distill roughly 38 hours of TV episodes into 15 or 20 hours of hands-on gameplay, and it succeeds at doing so.