Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo Review
If you're a regular reader of this site, you know that I'm always the guy in charge of reviewing everything with the words "Transformers" or "Dragonball" in the title. The robots in disguise expertise has been more incidental; they had a big few years and there is a part of me that just can't help but be interested in all the new and exciting ways Optimus Prime and company are re-imagined for the public, but Dragonball continues to be my favorite franchise of all time. And now that there is a new side-scrolling action game for Nintendo's Wii system featuring Goku, Krillin and Bulma during their formative years, not only did I just have to review it, I also wrote the guide for it as well. Keep your eyes on gamerstemple.com for it soon.
If anything from that last paragraph stuck out, I hope it was the phrase "side-scrolling action game." That's right; Dragonball: Revenge of King Piccolo is NOT a fighting game, like so, so, so many other Dragonball games have been over the years. And just like with last year's Dragonball: Origins on the DS and the near-classic Dragonball: Advanced Adventure on the Game Boy Advance, this is a great break from the norm. Revenge of King Piccolo isn't perfect, but for fans and younger gamers alike, it is one of the better third party titles on the Wii and a worthy addition to the Dragonball universe of video games.
Dragonball: Revenge of King Piccolo follows Goku and friends through a part of the Dragonball saga not often represented in the games based on the series. It picks up following the very beginning of the story, following the Emperor Pilaf and Tenkaichi Budokai storylines (the basis for Dragonball: Origins on the DS), and starts off with Goku's fight against the Red Ribbon Army. The game follows the story through Goku's fight with the Demon King Piccolo, the end of the original Dragonball story and incidentally, the pick-up point for the upcoming DS RPG Dragonball Z: Attack of the Saiyans. Ok that was a lot. Basically, for those of you who couldn't have gotten their Masters degree in Dragonball, this game follows a rarely seen but fantastic part of the story of Goku's childhood.
The game itself is what's important, right? Right. This is a side-scrolling beat-em-up game, a design not seen too often anymore. Thankfully, it really works here. There is a decent mix of fighting, some interesting bosses, a bit of platform jumping and some secrets to find and it adds up to a surprisingly satisfying adventure. The main issues are the challenge level and the game's length. This is a very easy and a very short game. It only took about 5 hours to plow through all six of the games stages, and aside from jumping into some holes, I never died once. Even the game's final bosses don't put up much of a fight, and the only real challenge comes from uncovering secret pathways and finding the handful of collectibles that are just off the beaten path. Judging from this, I'd say that the game is one that will be marketed to younger gamers, but Dragonball fans will have a good time with this one as well.
The best and most striking part of this game is its visual presentation. If you take nothing else away from this review, take this: I've played nearly every Dragonball game ever released and this marks the first time the 2D manga has been transformed into a 3D game and managed retained a look faithful to the source material. In short, this is from a manga fan's standpoint the best-looking Dragonball game ever released. The fighting games released on the PS2, PS3 and 360 sport various levels of detail, but the characters have never looked "right" in 3D before, often taking a shiny, plastic-like appearance at best, and ending up unrecognizable at worst. Revenge of King Piccolo is Akira Toriyama's original manga brought to life, with each of the characters looking as though he personally designed them for the 2D to 3D transition. Even Toriyama's trademark "sketchy" style has been retained and used to show definition, rather than just rendering the characters in dynamic, cel-shaded 3D and letting the shadows and line breaks fall where they may. Super Dragon Ball Z on the PS2 came close, but this game perfects the style of the source material in a way that begs to be seen.
As much as I fell in love with this game, it isn't going to please everyone. It is short, easy and can be difficult to follow if you aren't familiar with the story already. It also sports a dated design, and I can't see anyone but the superfans forgoing all the other amazing games out right now to play this one.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: As a huge Dragonball fan, I'd give the game a score somewhere in the B+ range. But as a jaded reviewer who is having trouble finding time to play all this season's releases himself, I'd give this one a ... 85%.