By Amanda L. Kondolojy
June 2, 2008 - Chances are, if you are a video game and anime aficionado, you have some strong relationship with Dragon Ball Z. The series has been around since 1989 and has enjoyed worldwide success throughout the nineties and early into the new millennium. Even though the anime and manga series have long since ended, they live on through spin-off video releases, and most importantly, blockbuster video games. Dragon Ball Z is still a great success as a media powerhouse worldwide.
Dragon Ball: The Precursor (1985-1989)
Notable Games: Dragon Ball: Shenlong no Nazo, Dragon Ball: Daimaou Fukkatsu, Dragon Ball 3: Gokuden
The Dragon Ball Z empire could not have begun without the original Dragon Ball series. The series was first ran in Japan's renowned Shonen Jump magazine, which has also produced modern manga classics like Naruto, One Piece, and Rurouni Kenshin.
The Dragon Ball story followed the growth and development of Goku. This series saw Goku's transformation from child into warrior under the supervision of Master Roshi. The series also introduced characters like Piccolo, Krillin, and Bulma.
There were only a handful of mainstream games that were released during the original run of Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball: Shenlong no Nazo, which was localized as Dragon Power, was one of the first mainstream games to hit the market. It was made for the NES and featured card-based, board game play. Certainly a far cry from the DBZ brawlers we know today
Because the original Dragon Ball series only enjoyed modest success in Japan (and was only brought to the US after the success of Dragon Ball Z) this title was ruthlessly edited. Characters' names and likenesses were severely changed to better represent the American idea of what Asian games should look like. The game made no mention of the Dragon Ball franchise, but despite the changes, the title was very clearly part of Dragon Ball.
Outside of Dragon Ball: Shenlong no Nazo, there were a number of other Japan-only games that were released including the sequel to Shenlong no Nazo, Dragon Ball: Daima? Fukkatsu, and the RPG-style Dragon Ball 3: Gokuden.
Dragon Ball Z: The Beginning (1989-1996)
Notable Games: The Dragon Ball Z: Super Butoden series
After the modest success of the original Dragon Ball franchise in Japan, it was decided a sequel to the series would be created for TV. This sequel would follow the adventures of Goku in adulthood and the progression of his son, Gohan. Dragon Ball Z soon became wildly popular in Japan and was aired for seven years.
Dragon Ball Z was never localized during the course of its original run in Japan, but that didn't stop some quality games from being produced during this time.