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Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II

by Jonathan Metts - July 12, 2003, 3:01 pm PDT


Legacy of Goku II rises above the mediocrity for a sequel worthy of the license.

Legacy of Goku II, the follow-up to last year's highly successful GBA adventure, has a lot going for it. The license couldn't be stronger, and it lends a wealth of story and style to the underlying game structure. The graphics are bright and colorful, the gameplay is simple but addictive, and the quest is long and full of things to do.

The game's design is similar to the first LoG, which was based on Zelda and other archetypal adventure classics. Now with five playable characters (Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, Trunks, and Goku), you roam the world battling the forces of evil. The different characters play about the same, but you have to keep them all leveled up in order to progress. It's not bad though, since level-ups come frequently and combat is fairly engaging. That is to say, it's important to maintain good timing of your button presses, because winning every battle, including the final boss battle, is just a matter of punching and moving forward in a solid rhythm. The enemy AI is pitiful, and it hardly varies from rabid wolves to deranged self-destructing robots to Cell himself. They can all be defeated with the same dumb pattern, though if you do make a mistake, Cell will certainly put a good wallop to your head. Fighting can still be satisfying though, mainly when you approach a particularly fast enemy or a large group of crocodiles. (I'm picking on it a bit, but it has to be said that LoG II does cut down on how much time you spend fighting random wildlife. Usually it's robots or ninjas or something like that.) Though they're all but unnecessary, each character's energy attacks can also help spice up combat.

Developer Webfoot Technologies clearly heard the criticism last time, because they have polished up the sequel's gameplay very nicely. Characters can now move diagonally, the hit detection is more forgiving, and the confusing flying element has been ditched altogether. Now you only fly when moving around on the Mode-7 world map, which brings up another improvement -- the game is much more open and designed to encourage exploration. Yet for all this attention to polish, the gameplay still lacks real substance. Eighty percent of your time is spent fighting, which is pretty mindless as I've already explained. Otherwise you're reading story text or simply traveling from place to place. There are only a handful of puzzles in the game, and all of them are either insultingly simple or so vague that you're left to find the solution by trial and error. There’s not much to explore, as the maps tend to be straightforward (though quite large), and there are no secret places on the similarly huge-but-empty world map.

In fact, Legacy of Goku II's idea of game progression is blocking your passage with a door that has to be opened by a certain character at a certain experience level. Why not instead use a boulder that has to be pushed aside with a certain attack? Or perhaps a gap that requires some special equipment or move to cross? This game should have taken a cue from Zelda and built these doorways into the game world. As it is, they stick out like neon signs reading, "Warning! Poor design decision ahead!"

But of course, there is a saving grace amidst all this lost opportunity and mediocre gameplay. This game has a great story to carry it, and carry it the story does. Dozens of episodes from the anime series have been condensed into a few hundred lines of text with some visual aids, and it all works amazingly well. I personally lost track of the series after the Frieza saga, but LoG II did a great job of filling me in on the next few sagas. And unlike the first game, the plot progression is now slow and detailed enough to serve as a replacement for all those episodes, rather than just being a meager summary.

Atari's second Dragon Ball Z game for GBA is a great improvement upon its inept predecessor. The controls and interface have been streamlined and upgraded, while the scope and execution of the storytelling are also much better. Yet, the series still has a long way to go before competing with the best of the adventure genre. Without the appeal and charm of its license, this would be little more than an average quest with an oversimplified combat system. Luckily, the great license fits perfectly with the game's design, lifting Legacy of Goku II out of the muck of mediocrity. Any DBZ fan will love this chance to interact with the series.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 6 9 7.5 8 8

Toriyama's art is translated beautifully to the small screen. Small touches, like the menus and pseudo-3D map, are very nice. The art design suffers from too much palette-swapping on enemy sprites.


A few songs are decent, but others are no less than grating. Sound effects for the special attacks work well, but there is no voice, and the show's theme song is completely missing. Come on guys, you have the license...use it!


Vastly improved over the last game, controls are now smooth and responsive. The hit detection has been loosened, which was quite necessary for all the hand-to-hand fighting. Button layout could have easily been fitted to allow more attacks or some customization.


Combat is mindless, though still fun in short bursts. The character development is dictated by plot, so all you can do to "train" is level up for better stats. Maps are large and full of items and enemies, and since you can no longer fly at any time, there's no question of where you can and can't go. The plot execution is superb, and thanks to the addition of multiple playable characters, less time is spent on dumb fetch quests. You (almost) always feel like what you're doing is important.


The quest is plenty long, say 10 to 15 hours if you look for Golden Capsules and lost Nameks. There are several secret areas that open only when characters reach the maximum level, but the rewards for all that leveling up are not really worth the trouble. Still, for the great story and swift pace, this is a game you could play through twice.


Legacy of Goku II is really better than it should be. For all its shortcomings, the game has a great style and story that motivate you to experience and enjoy the gameplay. This series could reach greatness in its third iteration, but the second game is out now and is worth playing for any fan of DBZ or simple adventure games. Just don't expect Zelda-quality gameplay.


  • Excellent storytelling
  • Long, satisfying quest
  • Sharp graphics
  • Combat lacks strategy and variety
  • Gameplay still pretty dumb
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre RPG
Developer Webfoot Technologies

Worldwide Releases

na: Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II
Release Jun 17, 2003
aus: Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II
Release Jun 26, 2004
RatingParental Guidance
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