|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco Bandai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
September 4, 2008 - It is amazing how the Dragon Ball Z games have transcended the original anime and manga that inspired them in terms of longevity and even popularity. However, it is often forgotten that Dragon Ball Z was not the first series about the adventures of Goku.
The story of the legendary Saiyan actually began in the Dragon Ball series, which was decidedly less angst-filled and more lighthearted and humorous. Everything mainly revolved around Goku and his friends Bulma and Krillin. There are big battles, of course, but they are much less epic, and those who have seen the Z battles beforehand might categorize them as a lot less intense.
Regardless of the intensity of the action or the epic nature of the battles, the original Dragon Ball told a great story and, as such, makes great material for a game. Dragon Ball: Origins tells the story of what happened before the original Dragon Ball and mainly features Goku and Bulma. The game has puzzle-platflorm style gameplay, and it gives you the opportunity to take control of both Goku and Bulma at the same time in your quest to find the seven legendary Dragon Balls. You will be able to use each character's special powers and attributes to move through the various levels.
Early gameplay videos are somewhat reminiscent of the LEGO series of games in the way that you have to use each character differently to solve environmentally-based puzzles. For instance, one of the obstacles in an early level involves a broken bridge. Bulma is unable to jump, so when confronted with this challenge, Goku must move a giant stone to fill in the bridge's gap for Bulma to cross safely. Each character has specific strengths and weaknesses you will have to use together in order to progress through the various stages. Since Bulma can't really jump or move heavy items, she is well-versed in building machines, which will definitely be a handy skill. Conversely, Goku has a hard time putting things together but is very strong physically. The developers have hinted that there will be a third character in Dragon Ball: Origins as well, but they are keeping mum about who this character may be. Of course, my natural guess as a Dragon Ball fan would be Krillin, but who knows what surprises may be in store?
One very interesting thing about Dragon Ball: Origins is that the game's action will take place across both screens. The top screen and bottom screen will work together and you'll be able to execute actions that can cross both screens. For instance, if you are walking across a path in the bottom screen and you see a monster up ahead on the top screen, you can fire a kamehameha attack that will span across both screens. This looks to be a natural but somewhat overdue function for the Nintendo DS, but some of the animations look a little weird when they use both screens. For example, one animation shows Goku with his head on the top screen and his legs and feet on the bottom screen. However, his entire chest and waist are cut out between the two screens. Then, the next animation shows Goku's opponent, his full body is also shown on both screens, but the waist and chest areas are not cut out. This inconsistency creates a little bit of a weird look and can mess with the perspective of the game. Hopefully, there won't be too many of these instances in the final version of the game!
Aside from the dual screen inconsistencies, the character models in this title are quite impressive and the animations seem very fast. They're definitely among the best I've ever seen from the DS hardware. The game also does an excellent job of capturing the look of the Dragon Ball anime, which fans will remember is quite different from Dragon Ball Z. Characters and colors are much softer, and the world around them is very colorful and bright.
Control in this game is going to be exclusively touch-based. You will be able to move characters by dragging them along with the stylus and execute different attacks by making various motions with the stylus. This could be a cool element of the game if implemented correctly. As we've seen in other games, stylus-only controls can lead to imprecise movements and poor overall control. But we've also seen titles that utilize exclusive stylus control very well, so here's hoping this title falls into that latter group.
Overall, Dragon Ball Origins looks like it is going to be a very fun game, and I personally can't wait to get back to the more lighthearted and fun world of Dragon Ball. While all the Dragon Ball Z brawlers are great, sometimes it's nice to kick back with an enjoyable and exciting puzzle-platform adventure. This title is slated for release in November of this year, so it looks like we won't have to wait too long to check this one out for ourselves!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor