Namco Bandai powers up Dragon Ball trifecta

E3 2009: Japanese publisher announces Raging Blast for Xbox 360 and PS3, Revenge of King Piccolo for Wii, Attack of the Saiyans for DS; DBZ license holder unclear.


LOS ANGELES--Namco Bandai today announced that it would be hitting the Dragon Ball franchise hard and heavy, revealing three new games based on Akira Toriyama's heralded anime. The first, Dragon Ball: Raging Blast, will see release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo will be available exclusively for the Wii, and Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans will head to the DS. All three games are due this fall.

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A fighter in the vein of Atari's Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi series, Dragon Ball: Raging Blast features more than 70 fighters, though Namco Bandai notes that the figure includes fighter "transformations." Fighters will be drawn from the Dragon Ball Z universe, with characters facing off to reenact various moments in the series. Namco Bandai also said that players will be able to "experience alternate universe moments that were left out of the original anime and manga series."

Namco Bandai promises interactive and fully destructible environments as well as high-definition visuals in Raging Blast. Special moves seen in the TV and print series will also be re-created for the game, with developer Spike also adding a new special attack system that lends an increased element of verticality to the battles. Players will be able to control Z-Warriors and their antagonists.

Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo for the Wii is an action adventure game that follows Goku during his formative years, what Namco Bandai calls a first on home consoles. The game will be set during Goku's Red Ribbon encounters, according to the publisher, as the aspiring martial-arts master builds his strength battling against a variety of enemies, meeting a number of iconic Dragon Ball characters such as Emperor Pilaf, King Piccolo, and the Red Ribbon Army.

Lastly, Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans for the DS takes on the turn-based strategy genre, another first for the franchise, Namco Bandai claims. Attack of the Saiyans lets players flesh out their three-fighter squad with a number of Z-Warriors, including Goku, Kid Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Yamcha, and Tien.

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Namco Bandai's announcements come as a surprise, given that Atari has long been the rights holder to the Dragon Ball game license. Indeed, according to an annual report Atari issued last year, the publisher said that 49 percent of its annual revenues during its 2008 fiscal year came from the Dragon Ball Z license. Last week, CEO David Gardner told GameSpot that Atari needs to strike a balance between working with its own intellectual properties and working with those of others.

Following a dispute with US anime firm FUNimation in October 2007, Atari signed a licensing agreement that would see it retain the rights to make games based on the Dragon Ball Z franchise through January 2010.

Atari had not responded to requests for comment as of press time. "At this time Namco Bandai Games America is officially publishing the 3 Dragon Ball games we announced today at [the Electronic Entertainment Expo]," a Namco Bandai representative told GameSpot.

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