If you watch Dragon Ball Z long enough, with everyone constantly bursting into flame and growling about power levels and blasting one another though mountains, it’s easy to forget that things weren’t always quite so angst ridden and punchy. In fact, there was a time when the Dragon Ball series (notice there’s no Z) was all about fun and adventure. Oh, and T&A, thanks to a remarkably perverse old mentor. That’s the setting for Dragon Ball: Origins, an action adventure that chronicles the early days of the Dragon Ball world, but that seems to have played more than its fair share of a certain other wildly popular Japanese series: The Legend of Zelda.
We’re not saying this is a direct Zelda knock off. It totally isn’t. But it’s impossible to trek through these dungeons and other locations solving puzzles, bashing enemies, encountering quirky characters and enjoying the lighthearted tone, all the while controlling everything with the stylus, and not be reminded of The Legend of Zelda. Especially Phantom Hourglass, the DS entry. It hits similar notes, wields the same earnest exuberance, and brings the same silly smiles to our faces.
Of course, much here is exclusively Dragon Ball. We’ve never seen a Zelda game that included partial nudity, courtesy of Master Roshi’s dirty old man antics. The cloud surfing – as in, actually flying around on Goku’s yellow nimbus cloud – is a DB staple. And one of the two main combat methods, in which Goku swings an extendable “power pole” is totally unique.
Controls and combat are mostly smooth, though it can be tricky to tap the right person when the enemies get close. Graphically, this thing looks comic-book vibrant, with only brief bouts of slowdown. The story, which revolves around a globe-trotting search for the mystical Dragon Balls? Well, how bad can it be when you can shoot fireballs, hit dinosaurs with a big stick, punch skeletons, ride on a cloud and hang out with an old pervert? What do you mean that’s not an answer? Fine: We say it’s great fun. In fact, that applies both to the story and this game as a whole. Don’t let it slip by.
Nov 24, 2008