Hands-onDragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku

Get the latest on Infogrames' Dragon Ball Z RPG for the Game Boy Advance.

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We recently had the chance to play the latest game using the popular Dragon Ball Z anime license, Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku for the Game Boy Advance. This adventure RPG re-creates many of the scenes from the first season of the Z warriors saga, beginning with Goku's rescue of his son Gohan from his half brother Raditz and continuing through other memorable moments, such as his training with King Kai, his confrontation with Vegeta and Nappa, and his eventual evolution into a Super Saiyan. Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku challenges you to take on the role of the kindly Saiyan warrior to thwart impending doom while safeguarding your friends and family, learning powerful techniques, and progressing through the storyline.

One of the things that most impressed us as we got our hands on this game was the incredibly well-done introductory sequence. Just when we thought the Game Boy Advance had been taxed to its limits, we see what closely resembles FMV on the powerful handheld. Hopping into the game, we were drawn into the series' past as we explored Kame House, the home of Master Roshi, Goku's childhood instructor, and we were able to interact with some of the important characters from the series, such as Krillin, Bulma, Chi Chi, and Gohan. The sprites representing these characters were nicely detailed, making each character easily recognizable. The various backgrounds and locales we explored were very much in the style of 16-bit RPGs from the SNES era. In addition, Goku's attacks and movements were well animated, and the many different enemies we encountered looked nearly as good. Overall, the game is aesthetically pleasing at this point, and the designers have done a good job of translating the wonderful Akira Toriyama artwork and character designs to a miniaturized form.

Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku combines the real-time combat and puzzle-solving elements of adventure games with the RPG standbys of leveling through experience accumulation and inventory management. Those familiar with past Dragon Ball Z games will find that although this game takes place at the same time in the series as the Famicom Dragon Ball Z RPG: Legend of the Super-Saiya-Jin, the execution in this title is entirely new. From what we've played of the game so far, The Legacy of Goku follows the main plot of the series fairly closely, while diverging briefly to challenge you with item collection or side quests, which are generally in the form of rescue missions. There are many opportunities to help out, such as by saving kittens, dinosaur eggs, old men, and small children, but these subquests are fairly easy to solve and rarely derail you from the fairly linear progression of the storyline. Combat along the way is relatively simple to manage--Goku fights with his fists or with ki attacks, such as the kamehameha fireball. Goku can also fly for short periods of time, although longer voyages will be made astride his cloud companion, Nimbus. Goku's health rises in small increments when enemies are defeated, and the game seems to provide a large number of restorative herbs and magical senzu beans for emergency situations.

Goku's abilities start at a relatively immature level--he initially beats up on snakes and squirrels, while possibly having trouble with the more challenging wild dogs and crabs. Eventually, his ability level will rise, as will his hit points and ki, which will allow him to take on dinosaurs and other more challenging foes. However, knowing when to avoid enemy attacks is apparently a key part in the game, since the stronger foes, such as Raditz, can completely deplete Goku's health in a single blow. Luckily, the ranged ki attacks that Goku has available are effective, and his ki energy replenishes at a constant rate. It doesn't take much time at all for Goku to expand his repertoire of attacks with the solar flare technique, and we expect that there will be a great many different skills for Goku to learn throughout the game. We did experience a number of rather serious hit-detection issues, which made some battles far more frustrating than seemed appropriate, but this will hopefully be corrected as the game approaches completion.

What impressed us nearly as much as the eye-catching intro sequence was the way Legacy of Goku closely adheres to the Dragon Ball Z license. The characters from the series make abundant appearances throughout the game, and many of the more important scenes have been redone fairly accurately. The Dragon Ball Z storyline has been tied in nicely to adventure-game conventions, a prime example of which is your initial quest to collect Master Roshi's pinup-girl magazines. The artwork and dialogue seem to remain faithful to the source material throughout, which should definitely please die-hard fans of the series. Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku will be released later this year, alongside its companion game, which is based on the Dragon Ball Z Collectible Card Game. Check out our collection of screenshots and movies, and keep an eye out for more on these upcoming Dragon Ball Z titles.

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