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Platform

DS

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Namco Bandai

 

Developer

Monolith Soft

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

November 10, 2009

 

 

- Large, colorful sprites
- Flashy combo attacks
- Random enemies that fit well with the DBZ universe

 

 

- Repetitive battles that drag too long
- Even longer, narrative-heavy cutscenes
- Filler moments that do little to expand the DBZ world

 

 

Review: Nostalgia (DS)

Review: Blue Dragon Plus (DS)

Review: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS)

 

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Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans

Score: 5.0 / 10

 

Despite being a franchise largely adapted into fighting games, turning Dragon Ball Z into an RPG isnít as crazy an idea as some may think. Many aspects of the series feature RPG-like elements, from gaining levels through grinding (or training, in Gokuís case), food items that restore health (and broken bones), and a multi-continental world filled with all sorts of bizarre animals and NPCs (including dinosaurs, dragons, and pigs in slacks).

 

dragonball z attack of the saiyans          dragonball z attack of the saiyans


There have been several attempts in the past to create a DBZ RPG (hey, that rhymes), but previous efforts have been poorly received and quickly forgotten, even by the seriesí native hometown. But even though the Dragon Ball series is well over two decades old, itís still a huge cash cow, and Bandai Namco seems poised to yank the swollen teat as often as they can with their newest game, Attack of the

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- DS Game Reviews

- Role-Playing Game Reviews

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Saiyans. With the RPG gurus at Monolith Soft behind the helm, does this latest expansion into the DBZ universe reach scouter-breaking levels of excitement, or does it barely register a blip on the gaming radar?

Just be thankful I didnít make an ďOver 9000Ē joke.

The story of Dragon Ball Z is one that has been

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told many, many, many times across every conceivable medium, but just in case you havenít heard it: many years ago, a race of super-powerful interstellar warriors called the Saiyans sent a young infant named Kakarot to the planet Earth, tasked with purging the planet of all life. Due to a amnesia-inducing head injury, the baby Saiyan is instead raised as Goku, a carefree and good-natured fighter with dreams of becoming the worldís strongest champion. After obtaining this title along with a loving wife and son, Gokuís older (and still quite evil) brother Raditz invades the Earth, kidnapping Gokuís son and setting off a chain of events where Goku and friends (and former enemies) must band together and defeat the Saiyan invasion that threatens to eradicate their world. Battles are waged in truly spectacular fashion, with characters flying through the air, unleashing planet-shattering energy blasts, and screaming for five minutes per episode.

Despite the Z in the title, a good portion of this game revolves around the final events of Dragon Ball, featuring a younger Goku as he faces off against Piccolo during the World Martial Arts Tournament. Before the fateful battle, players assume the role of Krillin, Tien, and Yamcha, as they engage in some last minute training preparations by doing some minor quests for Master Roshi. In the anime world, this is known as filler, and since most major DBZ battles consist of several heroes facing a single powerful enemy, the majority of AotS consists of long hikes through deep caves, sprawling forests, overflowing volcanoes and other ďbeen there, done thatĒ areas before facing off against the infamous series baddies. Thankfully, as mentioned above, the DBZ series is filled with interesting creatures, and itís through these background characters that Monolith has drawn inspiration from; from Red Ribbon soldiers to hulking forest animals, each of the hundreds of random encounters fit with the Dragon Ball world, although their placement in each area is rather odd and often out of context.

 

dragonball z attack of the saiyans          dragonball z attack of the saiyans


But the random enemies arenít the real issue here, rather itís the numerous times youíll be encountering them. Often a complaint in classic RPGs, the rate of random encounters in DBZ can grow quite frustrating, with but a few steps resulting in a sudden encounter. When engaged against enemies, battles play out in typical turn-based fashion, where the party members and enemies each take a turn at pummeling each other into submission. There are the standard commands for attacking, defending, using items and performing special moves, although a couple of additions try to modernize the classic interface; pressing a button at the right time before an enemy attacks will result in your character guarding against the attack, greatly reducing the amount of damage taken. Attacking and receiving damage will also fill up a Rage meter that, when combined with another character whose bar has filled will result in an S Combo, a deadly combo that can be unleashed by two or more party members. Another unique mechanic are Capsules which can be equipped while navigating the field, offering specific bonuses during battle, whether it be a status effect on an enemy (such as darkness or dizziness), a status boost for your characters (poison resistance, etc) or an extra reward upon victory (extra exp or money).

Yet even with these extra features, battles tend to be too long and repetitive, especially with the limited amount of special moves learned by each party member. Boss battles are particularly annoying as they feature a very basic back-and-forth sequence where one side attacks the other ad nauseam. Character and enemy sprites are large and animate well, but the flashy attacks grow thin after witnessing them several times. Curiously, the voiceovers heard during battle have been left in Japanese, perhaps a sign that the veteran English voice actors have grown truly tired with re-enacting the same story arcs over and over again.

And unfortunately, the story is where Attack of the Saiyans truly suffers. While the events themselves are presented exactly as they occurred in the anime series (and even features a few extra moments that were exclusive to the manga), itís the pacing of the cutscenes that border on excruciating. This is mainly due to the small emoticons that each character displays before speaking, as if the on-screen portraits werenít sufficient enough to indicate a characterís anger or frustration. These emoting pauses between text makes cutscenes run far longer than is humanly tolerable, and even though the graphics bring back memories of Chrono Trigger (as it well should, since series author Akira Toriyama is credited as character designer for the classic RPG), the small field sprites cause the original story to lose something in the translation. Whatís especially curious is how major moments such as Dragon Ballís final tournament are quickly glazed over, which will only cause confusion among series newbies, and would have served to seamlessly increase the gameís running time instead of the tacked-on filler thatís included (in one instance, Goku and Piccolo land on a nearby island on foot while tracking Gohan, only to resume their aerial pursuit once he has been located elsewhere. Why they even stopped in that island in the first place is never revealed, and one can only continue to wonder why they donít just fly the majority of the time instead of using nearby rocks as makeshift bridges to proceed further on).

Despite the complaints, Attack of the Saiyans is still a decent RPG adventure, particularly for those who are new to the genre and could use a good entry point. But for fans of both Dragon Ball Z and RPGs in general, there are many other titles on both fronts that are more worthy of their time.

 

- Jorge Fernandez

(January 19, 2010)

 

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