|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
It's hard to believe, but before Dragon Ball Z's Goku was a Super Saiyan he was just a kid. Before the epic Dragon Ball Z series ever began there was just Dragon Ball, a quirky martial arts-inspired anime filled with cute characters and a whole lot of adult humor. Although this series was pretty big in Japan, it only enjoyed a brief run on American television. But if you missed it, fear not! Dragon Ball: Origins channels all the lighthearted humor from the original series into a cute cartoon adventure on the DS that has a whole lot of attitude and will give fans of any of the Dragon Ball series something to cheer about.
The story in Dragon Ball: Origins begins with Goku meeting Bulma for the very first time and revolves around their subsequent adventure looking for the seven legendary Dragon Balls. In addition to the two lead characters, fans will be excited to know that almost the entire supporting cast is in the story as well, including series mainstays like Krillin, Master Roshi, Chi-Chi, and Yamcha. Those who play the game should know that the humor in the game is as adult-oriented as the series that inspired it, and this game is one of those that really earns its "Teen" rating. But if you can handle the game's dirty jokes and nudity, then you'll find a surprisingly cute and heartwarming story in this title.
The gameplay itself is based on a two-player cooperative system. You are only able to play as Goku, and you will be accompanied by Bulma, who is an auxiliary character controlled by the game's A.I. As you progress through different levels, you will find that Goku and Bulma have different abilities, and you will have to work together to accomplish missions. For instance, Bulma is not able to cross wide divides or fight close range enemies, so you'll have to build bridges and fight enemies for her. However, Bulma is not completely useless as she carries a gun on her and is very useful for shooting long-range enemies. Both Bulma and Goku will have upgradeable stats and abilities, and you'll have to learn how to work together through well-designed environments with numerous obstacles to get both characters through each level alive.
One big complaint I have with this title is the lack of multi-cart co-op. Because you essentially play as two characters already, it would have been nice to have another person play as the secondary character, and this title is one of the few on the DS that would have been worth the price of two game carts for the co-op experience. But, unfortunately, the multi-cart play functionality in this title is limited to trading special action figures you have purchased or found in the game with friends. And, if you ask me, this is just a waste of wireless capability.
The controls in the game are completely stylus-based. You are able to move around by pointing your stylus in the direction you want to go, and the character will follow the stylus. Combat in the game is executed by either tapping the stylus over enemies or making certain patterns with the stylus. Goku's main weapon in the game is his extender pole, which you can use to execute moderate, powerful, or special attacks. These attacks can be executed by selecting the pole with the stylus and then doing a special move with it.
As you progress in the game, you will be able to unlock more abilities, and certain treasure boxes with secret techniques are hidden in several levels. Because the control is exclusively stylus-based, it becomes increasingly difficult to chain together special moves, especially if the different stylus moves are complex. The game also doesn't register the control as well as it should, which creates some considerable confusion while you are playing. The key to controlling this title seems to be repetition. I had a very difficult time controlling the character and battling enemies successfully until I was able to spend some time practicing my moves on a very easy level. Once I got them down, controlling the title was a breeze, but just be aware that the stylus-based control does feel quite awkward at first and there is a definite learning curve.