Reviewed: June 27, 2003
Released: June 17, 2003
Iím not one of those frothing-at-the-mouth fans of Dragon Ball Z like most of the kids who will be considering this game, but I do enjoy the series when I stumble upon it, enough so that I actually played last yearís version of The Legacy of Goku. I wasnít very impressed with that release, actually, disappointed would sum up my thoughts, but Iím always willing to forgive and forget and give everyone a second chance.
Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II is what last yearís game should have been. Just about everything I didnít like has been fixed and improved upon. The quest is much larger offering a longer and more satisfying game experience. The control and combat is excellent as are the enhanced graphics and sounds. Itís amazing what a developer can do when they arenít having their product rushed out the door to meet some arbitrary deadline. The game industry would be a much better place if it were run by game designers and not accountants, but I digress.
Legacy of Goku II doesnít provide a lot of background information to setup the franchise so if you are new to the Dragon Ball Z world you may want to catch a few shows to acclimate yourself with the premise. Thatís not to say you canít still have a good time coming in cold. Even standalone, this is a very good game.
In Legacy of Goku II you get to play as five characters, Trunks, Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan, and Goku. The main story follows three saga's, Trunks, Androids, and Cells, and borrows heavily from many of the episodes from the animated series. Again, if you watch the show this will all be familiar stuff and if not, itís still quality adventure gaming and about 20-25 hours of it.
There is just enough of an RPG atmosphere to give this game an RPG/Action classification. Each character can be leveled up to improve abilities and hit points, but at its core Goku II is an action game with a hint of adventuring. You explore ten massive levels completing ďquestsĒ to advance the story and getting into plenty of fights along the way.
You begin the game as Gohan but you will eventually get to swap out with the other playable characters. This is a great way to open up the game and give the player some additional freedom. While each character plays pretty much like the others, they do have some special character-specific attacks and you must level them up individually. Power-up items can be given to anyone in your party. This lets you build up your team any way you want and it also provides the designers with some opportunities to include some character-specific areas.
The fighting has been greatly improved over the original. You can engage in hand-to-hand combat and range attacks, and each character has various abilities that can be improved as you increase in levels. You will also need to reach certain levels to destroy barriers and advance through the game. This is a clever device the designers have implemented to keep you from getting too far into the game before your characters are ready.
The graphics in Goku II are quite impressive, especially when compared to last yearís effort. The colors leap off the GBA screen and the levels are excellent in design complete with multiple layers of scrolling backgrounds to give the game a perceived depth. They even throw in some Mode 7 graphics for level transitions.
Perhaps most improved is the animation and collision detection Ė a huge problem on the original, this has been nearly perfected and makes the game a joy to play. Itís not the prettiest game on the GBA but itís the prettiest Dragon Ball Z game on the GBA.
The music is very nice and provides some soothing background tunes that donít really stand out, but rather compliment the gameplay. Itís quite relaxing and allows you to hear the above-average sound effects. Considering how integrated this game is with the series I was surprised that there werenít any digitized samples taken from the show.
You can expect 20-25 hours of gameplay from Legacy of Goku II. Itís all standard adventure gaming stuff with a dash of RPG thrown in to spice things up. Itís not particularly challenging, but itís fun nonetheless and will keep you busy and entertained long enough to warrant a purchase. You might be able to finish during a rental period but you'd probably have to rush.
Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II while fun for anyone who plays is definitely targeted towards fans of the series. I picked up on several ďinsiderĒ references and Iím sure I missed just as many. Hardcore fans of the show will no doubt be buying this game without question and you wonít be disappointed. Everyone else, you may want to rent first, but chances are you are going to enjoy this game just as much and probably become a new fan of the animated series.