Want to see the future of Dragon Ball Z? It’s in the cards!
June 12, 2007 – Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu is a game that takes some getting used to. Perhaps that’s because it’s so radically different then any other DBZ game that’s been developed so far. I can almost guarantee that you’ll start off hating this game.
Its tutorial mode just confirms any suspicion in the mind of the unwilling that this extreme deviation from the formula was a mistake. But I would challenge anyone who feels this way (and I’m not preaching here, I felt the same way) to stick with this game for a little while. You just may like it. Now notice, I said “may.”
The game starts out by asking you to choose one of three characters: Goku, Gohan, or Piccolo. Then, you’ll be subject to an excessively long and unnecessarily confusing tutorial. The tutorial makes the game sound like a long arduous math equation. But the gameplay is actually pretty simple once you get into the game. My recommendation: claim back your half hour and skip the tutorial. You’ll be glad you did.
From there, you’ll take charge on an RPG-esque map screen. You’ll have a hand of five cards below you, and these will dictate how many spaces on the map screen you can go and what status changes you’ll undergo. Once you make your move on the map, you’ll be “found by an enemy” and will engage in battle, using the same cards that were available to you when you were on the map screen. Now instead of affecting your status and how far you move on the map, the same cards will now determine what actions you take in battle, and how effective your actions will be.
Now admittedly, this system does not really work out at the beginning of the game. Because of the fact that only one of your eight “action” cards is a “fight” card, battles drag on way longer than they need to. Imagine fighting a level one Saibaman when you’re a level 11. Should it take more than one minute? No. But if you are dealt an unlucky hand, it could take much longer than it needs to. However, as the individual story progresses, the gameplay matures quite a bit. You’ll be able to combine cards to maximize that one-or-two card potential that can be the key to your rival’s undoing. It’ll also be easier for you to get rid of those couple worthless cards that drag your deck down. Though the gameplay starts off way too simplistic, this development comes as a welcome complexity and adds considerable depth to what is supposed to be a strategy-based game.
Mechanics and structure are really simple, and should be so considering that this is supposed to rely on your brains instead of your brawn. However, although one part of me feels that this is a good thing, another part of me feels like they could have pushed the envelope and made it a tiny bit more complex than just simply tapping cards with a stylus. Some type of microgame or quick puzzle to ensure the success of a particular move. But that wasn’t the idea, and perhaps if there’s ever a sequel, they’ll incorporate something similar to that.
Music and sound are not too bad in this game until you get to the twice and thrice recycled stock phrases from the American version of the anime. Some of these stock phrases have been so used and overused in DBZ games that they’ve become increasingly annoying. I swear, hearing Goku tell Raditz to give him back his son was powerful 10 years ago. Then, once you heard his same demand for Gohan in every single DBZ game ever, the same sound clip used over and over and over, it wore on your nerves. And in this game, it’s even worse because little 2-3 second sound clips from the anime are repeated over and over. I swear, Goku says “darn it” so many times it’s enough to drive a sane person bonkers.
Sound issues and simplistic gameplay aside, there is quite a bit of depth to this game. It is quite long, and takes you through a very large percentage of the DBZ story, through the eyes of the different characters (Goku, Gohan, and Piccolo). And once you beat the different character modes, you are able to unlock Vegeta’s story.
Overall, I would have to say that this game is pretty good. It’s not bad, but it’s not as innovative as I had originally hoped. Yes it is a DBZ game that takes a drastically different approach. But it uses the same old story that we’ve been hearing for the past ten years. And although the card system is new facet, and a very welcome one at that, it is my opinion that they could have really done more with it then they did. Oh, and roughly translated, for those who were curious, Harukanaru Densetsu means something like “the faraway journey.” Just thought I’d throw that in there.