Before aliens, power levels over 9000, and “Z”, there was simply Dragon Ball. It was a simple tale about a naive boy who leaves his simple life for one of adventure. Luckily, someone at Game Republic recognised this when they created the Dragon Ball Origins games.
Journey to the West
(Note: Some may consider the following spoilers… but it’s a 25 year old anime.)
Dragon Ball is inspired by the classic Chinese story Journey to the West, which details the adventures of the Monkey King. This is why main character Son Goku originally had a tail. From there artist/writer Akira Toriyama diverges with the addition of the Dragon Balls, seven magical balls that when collected will summon a dragon who will grant you one wish. In the first game, which follows the first season of the anime, Goku and friends collect the seven dragon balls and made a wish. The balls were then scattered across the globe by the dragon, as not to make it too easy to grant a wish.
Origins 2 picks up where that game left off, which is also the beginning of season 2 of the anime. Here Goku has decided to look for the four star dragon ball, each ball has a number stars to depict which ball it is. This ball was left onto him by his late grandfather, so he would like to keep it around as a reminder. Of course things won’t be so easy. The Red Ribbon Army has learned of the power of the Dragon Balls, and is seeking them for their own purposes.
The game faithfully follows Toriyama’s story through both cut-scenes and game-play. The polygon graphics also do a great job of portraying his unique artwork. Some may not be a fan of his work, but those that are will enjoy Origins’ style.
Action, Adventure, and a little RPG
Dragon Ball Origins 2, like the original game, is a top down adventure game. In it you control Goku as he fights enemies, searches for treasure, and defeats bosses. Occasionally there is a puzzle thrown in there, but for the most part the game follows this same formula. The part I find odd is where most games have a boss at the end of the level, Origins has a boss at the end of every stage. It ups the difficulty a little as you can’t just breeze through a stage, but once you learn the bosses attack formula they become pretty routine.
The game offers two control options, stylus or classic button control. I played the original game with the stylus control, so I opted for the classic buttons this time around. Of the two I would recommend the buttons. It may be because that’s what I’m used to, but I felt much more in control of the game this time around.
The game also offers a lot of reasons to keep playing. There are RPG elements, so as you play you can level up Goku’s abilities making him more powerful. There are also alternate characters and bonus stages to play through. There‘s even a figure collecting mechanic which can be purchased randomly with the money you collect in game, or through beating certain challenges. These elements were a bit confusing at first, and the manuals dual languages won’t help much, but the ability to replay levels for more experience will let you catch up on any early mistakes.
The last bit of the game, which is new to Origins, is a multiplayer option. Unfortunately it requires two carts, so I was unable to try it out. It’s a shame because the execution is pretty simple, fight a boss on each level as you ascend a tower. A DS download option would have been a great way to show the game off to others, while having a great time with friends.
Adventure doesn’t wait!
Of the three Dragon Ball games I’ve reviewed for Nuketown, this is the only one without a Z and is without a doubt my favorite. Is there a correlation there? Maybe, but ultimately I think Game Republic has come up with a winning formula for the DS. They even learned a few things which make Origins 2 a bit better than the original. If your in the market for a lighthearted adventure game on your DS, definitely check this one out.
- Dragon Ball Origins 2
- Developer/Publisher: Game Republic / Namco Bandai Games
- Platforms: Nintendo DS
- MSRP: $29.99
- Buy it from Amazon
- Note: This review is based on a review copy of the game