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DragonBall Z: The Legacy of Goku Package Art
††Webfoot Studios

DragonBall Z: The Legacy of Goku

Back when the company now known as Atari was Infogrames, it acquired the license to one of the most popular, well known, and loved anime franchises of all time: DragonBall.

DragonBall is the story of a young boy with a tail, who grows up never knowing that he was sent from a distant planet to conquer earth. However, a nasty accident made him lose his memory and he grew up a carefree boy with amazing uncomprehendable strength and ability. In DragonBall Z the boy named Goku has grown up and the truth has been revealed. He must now face some of the greatest adversaries from through out the universe in order to protect the great treasures known as the DragonBalls. These are seven magical crystal balls, that when brought together can be used to summon an eternal dragon that will grant the summoner a single wish.

The first assignment promised by Infogrames was to be an all out Action-RPG for the GBA based around the first three sagas of DragonBall Z; the Saiyan, Namek and Frieza sagas. The development team, Webfoot Studios, roughly 25 staff members strong, all apparently huge DBZ fans, were assigned to undertake this honorary task. Unfortunately, much in the same way that DBZ purists like myself were disgruntled with the way Funimation handled the anime, so too were we when we finally got our hands on what was supposed to be the first of many definitive DBZ games.


Well, alright, the games visuals arenít that bad considering that at the time of release the GBA was barely a year-old. Firstly, Iíll start by saying how impressive it was to see the developers fit reasonable quality clips from the show, including most of the Season 1 opening, into the tiny GBA cart. This was a great idea, though they only total to about three, which was a very disappointing and anti-climatic realization. Another impressive addition is the addition of actual scenes from the anime during crucial and informative events. This is good as well, but it leaves a bit to be desired.

While the game is not in full 3-D, it sits at an isometric perspective. However, it works reasonably well. The detailing on things such as buildings, rocks, trees and other surrounding objects is very well done and even quite reminiscent of the anime. The general art style, while not handled by the original artists, is faithfully done and fittingly realized. Character models arenít in as much detail as enthusiasts would probably like them to be, but are recognizable.


There is not much to say about the sound in this game -- there are a bunch of bland, random tunes that are merely shady imitations of those from the show. There arenít any voices, apart from the one sloppy ďKame-Hame-HaĒ phrase. Even though the GBA has its limitations, development teams have shown that putting a decent amount of sound on a cartridge is more than possible.


Oh man, this is where everything absolutely falls apart. Where as the anime series was all about ultra fast-paced action and extravagance, the game ends up being a boring, linear, aimless wander.

While the anime series isnít strong on plot, the focus on being accurate with the story is a minimal compensation for the poor action. The basic premise is that youíll start in an area and work your way towards the current boss, whether it be Raditz, Vegeta or Frieza. Along the way youíll encounter a bunch of nobody NPCís and even some familiar faces like Yamcha, Tien, and Krillin. The problem is that they are just blatantly placed there so that youíll see them. They are of no great use to the game's overall objective. Being an RPG, some people will give you side-quests, some of which are necessary to continue though they are merely tedious fetch quests and have nothing to do with DBZ.

Being an Action-RPG, most of the time you'll be going around gathering experience points. On Earth, the mighty Goku will be gathering experience points from ferocious battles with snakes, wolves and turtles... umm, yeah. Youíll advance to dinosaurs and eventually Friezaís henchmen once you reach Namek, however. After fighting all of these menial foes youíre thrown into a boss battle, where the boss is generally far superior to you and trying to beat them is usually a real pain, mainly because of the terrible control setup.

Even though the GBA is obviously limited, there should have been a bit more creativity in place here. The A-button is to punch, B is a KI attack, R flips between three different KI attacks, and L is to fly. This not only severely limits gameplay but combat as well. The stiff 4-way movement or the poor balance on the KI meter doesnít help either.

Most of the time your best battle strategy will be to charge in, throw a punch, run away, repeat. This usally isn't possible against bosses, however, as they tend to be much quicker.

The KI attacks, a huge part of the DBZ world, border on being useless in this game -- the enemies find them easy to dodge and you are very limited in using them. During the Saiyan Saga youíll learn a Ki-blast, Solar Flare and the Kame-Hame-Ha wave. Both the blast and wave travel in a limited straight line and when they hit do adequate damage. The Solar Flare freezes the enemy in its place. The biggest problem is that it is way to easy to waste your Ki meter very quickly and there is no way to replenish in time to make any more use of it.

A similar problem occurs with flying. Goku on foot moves slowly and tediously so flying is handy to get to point-B a bit quicker. Unfortunately, your flying prowess is governed by collectible feathers. That is, if you have one feather, you can fly say ten units. If you have two feathers, you can fly twenty units. However, the units in this game arenít quite that long and the feathers are extremely scarce, so this renders flying pretty much useless as well.

The final insult towards gamers is that Legacy of Goku lasts roughly three hours. This is includs copious amounts of leveling up, which says something.




This game is an insult to both DBZ fans and gamers. The gameplay design is so sloppy and poor that it doesnít deserve the DBZ name. You are better off sticking to the anime. Non-DBZ fans have absolutely nothing here to get them to change their songs. It seems that Infogrames are in with Funimation to turn what was once one of the most majestic multi-generational animes into a show for 7-year-old kids. This game is suitable for no one but 7-year-old kids.

final score 2.9/10

Staff Avatar Jeremy Jastrzab
Staff Profile | Email
"I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer."

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