DS

North America

Dragon Ball: Origins 2

by Nathan Mustafa - August 23, 2010, 10:16 pm PDT
Total comments: 13

6

Get ready for the second origin.

The story of the Dragon Ball franchise exists as a blurry childhood memory in my mind. Images of children with giant hair, glowing people screaming in the sky, and an evil pink blob fighting a green man are about the only scenes I can clearly recall. My experiences with Dragon Ball and gaming are slightly more robust, as for quite some time I enjoyed the Budokai series of fighting games.

How fortuitous then, that I was able to play a game focused on the origins of the series. Dragon Ball: Origins 2 opens as a young Goku embarks on his journey to obtain the seven Dragon Balls. The plot and characters are standard anime fare, but the game presents itself so well that you cannot help but get sucked into the Dragon Ball world.

Origins 2 strives to create the feeling that one is playing through a television series, so much so that levels are called episodes.  Each level really does feel like an episode, and in the earlier "seasons," this structure pushes the player along at a brisk pace. Cut scenes are presented in-engine, so that they share the vibrant and cartoon-like graphical style of the game itself. This is said about many games, but Dragon Ball really is like playing a cartoon.

Dragon Ball is mechanically and visually similar to the DS Zelda games. The resemblance to Zelda is most apparent when Origins 2 throws puzzles at the player, but the puzzles rarely approach the complexity of a Zelda game. Instead, levels largely consist of extended segments of brawling that culminate in a battle with that episode's boss. Dragon Ball's combat system is built on simple button combinations to form attacks, dashes, blocks and a few other kinds of moves. While I found the fighting to be repetitive and far from challenging, there is satisfaction to be had in the nearly mindless brawling.

The combat only fails when it is stretched out across levels that are far too long. For the first hour or two of the game, Origins 2 strikes the perfect balance between each episode's length, combat, and story. It is only when levels start to stretch out that I found my patience wearing thin. The game's monotony does not hold up well during long sequences of pure combat.

Longer levels also expose the frustrating save system that often requires players to redo 10 minute chunks of game after an unexpected death. Most bosses lack a save point before them, so if you cannot pick up on a boss' patterns the first time around, you are simply out of luck.

It is a shame that the game quickly loses sight of its quirky and engaging presentation in favor of its less inspiring combat. Ultimately, it was this loss of focus that lowered my opinion on what was at first an exciting romp through the Dragon Ball fiction. Those with more patience than me, or those who cannot get enough Dragon Ball may be able to squeeze more fun out of Origins 2 with the unlockable bonus episodes and multiplayer compatible boss-rush mode.

After being so disappointed by the poorly paced episodes, it is easy to forget all of the good things about Dragon Ball: Origins 2. The presentation is top-notch, and the combat is entertaining in bursts. The game has a simplistic leveling system that does add to the sense of progression, and there are places in Origins 2 where the developers mix things up with a visiting character or separate mode. The good does outshine the bad in Origins 2, just not enough to make it worth most people's while.

Summary

Pros
  • Combat is flashy
  • The story pulls you in
Cons
  • Lack of depth
  • Poorly paced
  • Uncomfortable moments with the perverted old man

Talkback

MysticGohanAugust 24, 2010

Actually it's seven Dragon balls, not eight :p

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusAugust 24, 2010

LOL, thanks for catching that! I had just played. written something on Super Mario Bros. and had the whole "eight worlds" stuck in my head, I must have absentmindedly typed eight in here.

CalibanAugust 24, 2010

On your Cons you stated that there are "Uncomfortable moments with the perverted old man", would you care to elaborate on that since it wasn't in the review?

TJ SpykeAugust 24, 2010

Assuming it correlates with the TV show, I would assume it has something to do with Master Roshi's obsession with porn (and how he ogled 17-year old Bulma despite being an old man).

MysticGohanAugust 24, 2010

Wasn't there a part where Bulma lifts her shirt to show something to roshy, but her panties aren't there due to Goku pulling them off the night before, when she was sleeping?

CalibanAugust 24, 2010

Quote from: MysticGohan

Wasn't there a part where Bulma lifts her shirt to show something to roshy, but her panties aren't there due to Goku pulling them off the night before, when she was sleeping?

Yup.

I know the turtle hermit is a perv. If anyone has watched Dragon Ball they will know that's a part of the Turtle Hermit's character, so why is that a con? It's faithful to how the character acts.

TJ SpykeAugust 24, 2010

Just because Roshi is a perv doesn't mean grey has to be OK with that. I haven't played the game though, so I can't comment on what made grey uncomfortable.

CalibanAugust 25, 2010

And I'm not saying otherwise. If he's OK with that or not, it's his own business.

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusAugust 25, 2010

I didn't throw the Roshi complaint in the body of the review because I didn't want to focus all that much on it. I partially threw it in the cons to add a bit of levity to the review, and also because I really did find the moments where an old man is ogling what appears to be a young girl to be disturbing. That archetype in Japanese stories has always annoyed me, and I don't think its inclusion adds anything positive to the game or the Dragon Ball story in general. Quite the opposite, in fact. I don't like the way the camera pans around, and the conversations surrounding these scenes.

Now, I'm not a prude. I wasn't thinking of giving the game a higher score and knocked it down because of Roshi.

CalibanAugust 25, 2010

Ah, ok. Thanks for your reply greybrick. I wasn't trying to infer that the con was impacting the score by the way.

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusAugust 25, 2010

That's a relief!

I don't know for sure what you are named after, but if it is Caliban the band I tip my hat towards you- even if metalcore isn't really my style.

CalibanAugust 25, 2010

I use the name only because I like it, but it's from The Tempest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caliban.

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusAugust 26, 2010

So basically I will see this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shakespear%27s_Caliban.jpg

every time I see your name from now on.

I still tip my hat towards your semi-obscure reference.

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Genre
Developer Game Republic
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Dragon Ball: Origins 2
Release Jun 22, 2010
PublisherNamco Bandai
RatingTeen
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