November 08, 2011

Dragon Ball - Ranking

Story & World

The alternate Earth in the Dragon Ball universe is certainly an unique setting to say the least.  The energy and feeling of the show carries over well into the game.  Why, I'd sometimes just stay at the beginning of a fight, just trash talking and gaping in bewilderment for minutes at a time.  The sheer amount of cameos in it will keep any fan happy though don't expect anyone to hang around too long.  The game moves at an extremely fast pace and if knowledge of the characters and setting isn't known beforehand, I could see it being quite forgettable.

NPCs are numerous throughout the adventure areas though most only offer one liners of no import.  Some have to be visited and revisited in order to progress through the area while others will lead to fights (the fight ones are pretty obvious though).  There's no flexibility in the dialogues; you either have or haven't talked with an NPC.

Completing quests is the only way to advance the linear plot but there are a lot of them along the way.  A good mixture of quests harking from the show and new ones keeps Goku on his toes.  Quest areas are usually a combination of finding key objects, searching in the right spot, and fighting certain foes.  Two of the areas are maze-like but fairly small and doable without making a map.  10/20

Character Development

The leveling for Goku is a basic experience-based system.  Levels come fairly quickly and tops out at level 14.  Goku occasionally gains a new ki attack or an upgrade to an existing one (e.g. Zanzoken technique progressed from x1 to x3).  The quick pace of the game made it feel not so much the development of a character but just guiding one along to new encounters.  Perhaps it also suffers in that Goku is already an established character and there was no room for input from Nung.

Items gained during play are used only to further the plot and do not affect combat mechanics in any way.  Goku does gain the ability to use his Nyoi-bo in the form of an additional card type but that's it.  3/20

Combat & Monsters

A critical component for any Dragon Ball game, combat never reaches a stale point.  The replenishing card system is quite unique and a refreshing change from the standard formula.  Having each card's chance for success based on the Dragon Ball numbers 1-7 is a stroke of genius.  Sure, you could use that 7 star ball to ensure your victory on this puny minion but perhaps it should be saved for a tougher foe?  Will a 3 star ball get the job done or should a 5 star be deployed?  Even better, the card types are broken down into different attacks.  A 7 star kick card will certainly hit but this 4 star ki attack will do more damage if it hits.  All of this means card management must be strategized and this is prevalent throughout the entire game.

Movement on the world map is accomplished via the same cards used in combat and strategy must also be applied here.  Using all the lower numbered cards will mean more random encounters which could cause the loss of the higher power cards.  The very cards you were trying to save.  Hopefully this system will also be adopted by later Dragon Ball games as well.

 
The limited number of foes is forgivable considering each has multiple sprites representing it.  There are sprites for when the showdown begins, when they attack (and what they attack with), and when they get hit.  All foes had multiple types of attack with boss types having upwards of five variations (on par with Goku).  Enemies from the show are faithfully represented with a handful of new monsters to keep things fresh.  Matches tended to be very one-sided.  If one of the combatants had even a single level over the other, it would almost certainly end in his favour.  14/20

Graphics & Sound

Graphics are pretty decent for the fights and mediocre for the quest areas.  All the character's attacks are graphically represented differently from each other.  A kick that connects shows the foe's head snapping to the side and energy attacks are shown blazing across the screen before detonating.  The quests areas mainly suffered from a small active display window when it really had room to be at least twice as large.  The intro song was a nifty little rendition of the Dragon Ball theme.  Although the music became a little more bland later into the game, it mostly seemed appropriate for the area it was in.  10/20

Gameplay

Pretty much has all elements working against it here.  Completely linear.  No replay value.  Way, WAY too short.  Beginning had some difficult parts but after level 4 was pretty easy.  Controls were fine for the combat segments but a little slow in moving around the quest areas.  Not too terrible for regular quest areas but a nightmare for wandering around in the maze-like segments.  1/20

Final Ranking:  38/100