'Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu'
(Nintendo DS / ASIN: B000M4YI1Q / Rated: E / $29.99)
Features: Cards are marked with 8 types of actions, 8 power levels and 8 guard levels for 512 possible combinations that will determine how players progress through the game. The game will progress even if the player is not thoughtful in picking cards but strategic players will get the most out of the game. Multiple cards can be used together to form combos.
Description: 'Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu' is a completely new way to play the classic fighting action in Dragon Ball Z. This DBZ game combines simple card-based play mechanics and RPG aspects - bringing an all-new shot of action into the DBZ universe. It's easy to learn, but hard to master - and it'll test your strategy skills and your knowledge of the DBZ series. Strategic players will unlock more surprises and be more successful in game Supports wireless battle for up to 4 players and includes a game sharing mode.
Verdict: Back in the day there were several Dragon Ball Z games being released - although primarily in Japan. While most of them were pure fighting titles, a few of those were card games, where the effects of cards were mostly used for combat. This newly-released title could be a symbol of revival for such older games, but what you're going to find here is just poor, perhaps even more disappointing than you would feel if such older titles were ported to this console.
It all begins as you start the game, where you'll face an uninteresting introduction sequence, where three different images from the series are seen. Then, you press the usual "start" button, select a save slot and register it under your name, before being given access to the main menu. Oddly, it only allows you to access the Story Mode or the Vs. Mode, where two or four players can fight each other, via wireless.
For obvious reasons, you'll probably start with the Story Mode, which initially allows you to play as Goku, Gohan or Piccolo. There's space for a secret character, one that most fans will easily recognise, but he's not initially available. While you can start with whoever you want, after reaching a certain point of the storyline, you'll be told to play the other stories, which you must complete up to a certain point.
This game's story covers the beginning of the series up to a certain point, and while it doesn't cover the entire series, or any of the movies, its length is more than enough. Well, if you can stand facing the exact same story yet again, that is... the game follows exactly the story of the series, with a very few tune-ups (mostly, they are composed with more enemies being faced at each part of the game), and nothing else.
This storyline is also split into several chapters, which you can easily access from the menu and with clear relationship to each phase of the storyline. There's a chapter with Goku and Piccolo facing Raditz, one Gohan training with Piccolo, another with Goku's way across the stone serpent, among many others. During those chapters, you basically get cards each time you spend them, which happens when you either attack enemies or move on the field. Later, you also gain the ability to put a certain group of cards together, which grants you higher defensive and attacking values.
Graphics turn out being another weak point of this game. Unlike depicted in certain western titles, everyone actually looks like the characters from the series, in a way that we could even think that Akira Toriyama, the original author, drew them. However, that's as far as it goes. There are absolutely no animations, and most attacks are depicted with small special effects included in a single static image. The same goes for the cutscenes, where text is shown and a single image of the character appears. 10 years ago, such features were usual, but nowadays, this is unexcusable.
The sound quality is slightly better, and while songs from the show don't seem to appear in the game, most tunes are fitting to the in-game action. Pure fans won't like them, but for regular players, they are just fine. The ability to hear the character's voices, available only when they are striking the enemy, is also an interesting addition to the game.
While knowledge of the Japanese language isn't required to play this game, I strongly suggest that only huge fans of the series buy it. It has quite a few play time, but a predictable storyline, lack of interesting features, a weak graphical design and boring gameplay scheme are surely unappealing for random players.
Reviewed by Tab Walker