Dragon Ball Z Harukanaru Densetsu Review

Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball Z, and to a lesser degree its prequel and sequel, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT, has become one of the world's biggest and most recognizable franchises. In case you are one of the five guys in the world who doesn't know anything about DBZ, I'll give you a quick overview. The story revolves around Goku, an extraordinarily powerful alien, and his attempts to protect Earth and his family from some of the nastiest bad guys in the universe. The series gets its name from a series of seven Dragon Balls (har har har) that Goku and his friends are constantly collecting. When all seven are assembled, a giant green dragon appears and grants the Dragon Ball's collector one wish. It sounds ridiculous on the surface, but I, like hundreds or thousands of others, just can't get enough.

Though the Japanese manga and the television program were long concluded by the time Americans got their first taste, Dragon Ball Z has achieved unprecedented levels of domestic popularity for a cartoon largely meant for Japanese audiences. Like most other American crazes, Dragon Ball Z has spawned literally thousands of licensed products, ranging from video games to bed sheets. Sadly, most (if not all) of the DBZ games have been disappointing at best, but for some reason, people like me keep buying them. The latest effort to shake the "all DBZ games must be awful" stigma is Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Dentsetsu for the Nintendo DS.

So, how is the game? Can it live up to the series often imitated but never outdone grandeur? Not quite, but before we get to that, I feel that it is only fair and honest to let everyone reading this know that I am indeed the world's biggest Dragon Ball Z fan. I can already hear people contesting this point, but the Dragon Ball Z tattoos covering my back and entire left arm reassert my claim. Anyway, I might be the world's most devoted fan, but I still can't give Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu a glowing review, even though nothing would make me happier.

Being that Dragon Ball Z is primarily based on faster-than-light-speed fights and world shattering explosions, the last genre a DBZ game should fall into is a card based RPG, much like a Yu-Gi-Oh title. You'll have see all the trappings of nearly any other card based RPG - deck building and management, a bevy of cards to unlock and an almost infuriatingly slow and often confusing battle system. Before we get into what is wrong with the game, let's talk about what was done right.

The high point of the game for me was the graphics. The character portraits and battle animations are extremely well done and truly capture the feel of the source material. Keep in mind that the game was never meant to be a graphical powerhouse (it could have probably been made for the Super Nintendo), but seeing all the characters I've known and loved for so many years made slogging through the story a little bit more bearable, but not by much.