Can the Dragon Ball franchise entertain gamers once again?
Dragon Ball: Origins 2 (DS)
Developer: Game Republic
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date: June 22nd, 2010
ESRB Rating: T
With the sequel to 2008’s hit game, Dragon Ball: Origins takes another shot on the DS platform. Going into this game I could say that I was completely new to the Dragon Ball franchise in general, other than knowing that the main character was Goku and that there was a reoccurring interest in orbs called “Dragon Balls” throughout the series. While I was in the realm of Pokemon in the 90’s, Dragon Ball seemed like a completely different world, and I was afraid to explore it until now, and I can happily say that I’m glad I took the chance.
The game starts out with Goku trying to find his Grandpa’s Dragon Ball with his Dragon Radar, but while stopping to get food a monkey steals his materials, which compels him to follow the monkey. This is where the game teaches the player how to control Goku, using an easy button layout which is useful throughout the game. After catching the monkey, he comes across a Dragon Ball, one of seven orbs that [if obtained] grants the individual a wish from the dragon Shenron. However, it isn’t the one he was looking for, as his grandpa’s has 4 stars instead of six. Before you know it, he gets caught in a mess with the Red Ribbon Army, a group of people who want to obtain the dragon balls as well, and won’t stop until they do. The story is separated into chapters, with a Super Mario Bros. aspect to it. There are 8 worlds, each containing about 5 levels minimum, each labeled by the world and which stage it is (for example, 1-1). Throughout the story, Goku meets new friends and faces different enemies, and the story flows beautifully and engagingly. The story will have you wanting to find out what happens next, and without it the game would be just playing catch-up with today’s standards.
The gameplay is engaging and requires you to be on-task almost all of the time. It incorporates RPG elements, allowing the player to upgrade Goku’s stats in 3 different categories (Heart, Skill, and Health). Each category (when upgraded) helps the player, and in order to upgrade it the player will have to retrieve Training Points throughout the levels. There is also a shop where you can gear up for upcoming battles, and this is helpful later on in the game. The controls for the game differ between if you want to use the stylus or the buttons (which makes it play off like a mix between Castle Crashers and Animal Crossing: Wild World), and thankfully the game doesn’t make you go back to a menu to change it. Both control schemes work out nicely, with the stylus layout having minor issues (due to it just being a stylus layout, and that can be hard in certain situations). Beyond that, Goku can use a regular fighting mode, and a Power Pole mode. The regular fighting mode is almost required for a huge portion of the game, due to the fact that Goku can teleport with it. Goku can also use his powers to unleash a long blast titled “There are also times in the game when you play as other characters, which sometimes can seem like a breath of fresh air from the light and fast attacks that Goku provides. During the boss battles this ability is almost needed, due to the bosses being able to corner you with attacks pretty easily. The difficulty is leveled, no matter what mode you are playing on, so it should be a challenge for easy, normal, or hard players. Despite not being a complete fighter, the battles require a lot of button mashing, and you almost feel that you are at an arcade to be pressing buttons that much. Also, sometimes the attacks are glitchy, and they wouldn’t respond to my button-pressings, which made the game all the more tedious. There is also a mode titled “Survival Tower”, which lets you battle through different levels of bosses, acquired from points in the game. Survival Tower also lets you play through with a friend, but I was unable to test that part of the game.
On the lighter side of things, the graphics are beautiful to look at, and do their job in boasting the quirky and illogical atmosphere of the Dragon Ball franchise. There are some amazing cutscenes thrown in there, and it shows. The only flaw that I saw was the lack of facial expressions for Goku (his main one being a huge smile), but I don’t know how that differs from the rest of the franchise due to not playing any other Dragon Ball games. There were also points in the game where I went into a section with many opponents, and the game lagged immensely, which made it hard to see and control what I was doing in time with the game. That being said, the rest of the game ran smoothly when that wasn’t happening, and there weren’t any other glitches besides that that I can recall. The voice acting for the game was good, appearing in random spots for some characters (not all of the characters were acted for, but the ones that were sounded nice). The music, just like the graphics, also reflects the quirky and dangerous atmosphere nicely, and flowed with the gameplay.
Dragon Ball: Origins 2 presents a fun RPG-esque/fighting experience which will keep players entertained for a good couple hours. However, beyond beating the storyline, the game doesn’t offer much to do after, but it is good while it lasts. With smooth and beautiful graphics, a well-done storyline, and average gameplay, I’d say this game is worth picking up this summer. Thanks for the review copy Namco Bandai!