IGN Review of Dragonball: Revenge of King Piccolo
Dragon Ball games are sneaky little devils. It seems like every few months another creeps up, I do a quick little double-take, amazed that it's a new game yet again, and then am pleasantly surprised when it's actually good. Whatever Namco Bandai Games does to crank out so many of those titles in Japan (and ship them overseas en mass) is working. Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo won't go gracing our Game of the Year awards or change the way you think about anime action titles, but it's another fun addition in a long line of entertaining Dragon Ball titles.
Most of the Dragon Ball games we've seen on Wii have come in the form of the later more grown up series, Dragon Ball Z. This time around the game is based on the classic Dragon Ball titles featuring a younger version of Goku and the gang and the story revolves around the Dragon Balls themselves. Collect all seven and the legend says that a dragon will emerge and grant you whatever wish you desire; simple as that. With characters and style based on the original series, you'll get a more off-the-wall comedic take on the license, similar to what DS gamers have experienced with Dragon Ball: Origins. Goku is crazy, he kicks the crap out of everybody, end scene. Good work guys, on to the next level.
Revenge of King Piccolo is 100% a pure action beat-em-up. Comprised of stages within multiple overarching worlds, the single-player campaign consists of about six hours of running through levels, jumping over platforms, seeing the screen lock and then kicking the crud out of everything in your path. As a nice added hook, different combos can be executed by holding up or down on the control stick at the end of a string of attacks, sending certain enemies across the screen in a stun finish, or popping them up in the air. For each of these attacks (and other boss or projectile-heavy situations) Goku can execute a speed dash by tapping the Z button, essentially seeking to a specific spot on the screen automatically for a cinematic finish. When hitting enemies into a pop-up the screen actually zooms in, adds some anime "speed lines" for good measure, and Goku bashes the crap out of his foe with a few finishing blows.
During bosses or mini-boss encounters large attacks are usually followed up with a few "rest" frames by the enemies, at which time Goku can speed in and use a dash attack to retaliate. When it comes to projectiles and other in-level objects, seeking not only kicks back any launched weaponry, but also gives Goku an extra double-jump. It sounds chaotic, but with only one button to worry about for all, seeking battles and level traversal become as much about dashing around the world as they are regular button mashing combo play. It's a nice hook.
Dragon Ball is geared towards a younger audience, and as such it also has some issues with repetition. Each stage is pretty similar to the last, including eight hidden treasures per world, a few short branching paths, and a little story in between each mission. Unfortunately, while the game has a nice opening sequence and houses some well produced voiceover work at times -- both in English and Japanese; your choice -- it doesn't carry out through the entire game. Little mission briefs are voiced, and specific story chunks will also get the star treatment, but the game also breaks into little portrait-based moments where it's a bit text-heavy; especially when your target age group is E10+.
Outside of the main story mode, which is essentially a half dozen hours of sidescrolling beat-em-up (good fun while it lasts), there isn't a whole lot more to the package once you're finished. Cash can be earned while you play, which in turn allows for unlockables in the game's shop, but the purchases are extremely simple. You'll get a model viewer, music section, voice player, and a list of a dozen or so upgrades for Goku while playing through single player mode; mostly buffers such as increased health bars and the like. The Tournament mode is a two-player (or single player vs. computer) fighting game that's adapted off the core game's combo model, pitting two players against each other in a more arena-based design. The camera is zoomed in closer to models, each player has a guard break gauge outside of their main health and super meter, but the combos are simplified from the main game, removing the ability to seek with the Z button. Younger gamers will have a good time jumping in and mashing away, but with one combo button and a super meter it really just turns into a game of attack vs. block, and will be way too simple for any hardcore players out there. As a kid-friendly addition to the story mode it works. For those expecting Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, you'll be very disappointed.
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