Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans takes the popular anime series of the same name and plops it into an old fashioned turn-based RPG. Unfortunately, if you're not a hardcore fan of both the series and the genre, you might not find much to enjoy.
The Dragon Ball Z series has been put into video game format countless times - dating back to the 80s. They are usually classified as fighting or side-scrolling games, with the exception of a few stale entries into the RPG genre (eg. The Legacy of Goku). This is however, the first real attempt at a true turn-based RPG.
Fans of the series will be very familiar with the story as it takes place in the Vegeta Saga story arc, which invoives an alien race known as the 'Saiyans' coming to earth in search of the Dragon Balls. This story has been told many times in video game form so there should be no surprises here.
Over the course of the game you take part in many fights against the Saiyans and also do lots of training to prepare for these fights. It's a good story, although you're treated to a lot of text in this game, which you will probably be skipping over if you're a long-time fan of the series. If you're not familiar with the series, you might have a bit of trouble following along for the first few hours, as the story takes a while to develop.
The game play involves standard turn-based RPG fare. You pick an attack, then wait for the enemy to attack. There are a couple of tweaks to this formula however. During the enemies attack you can press a button associated with each character to lessen the blow. There are also special group attacks that can be used by building up your group rage meters and combining various attacks together. Although it never gets too boring, it's very simple and you can definitely tell this game is aimed at children.
The games overall length is fairly decent. It took me just under 15 hours to complete the game, which is pretty good nowadays. However, a lot of this time will be spent grinding up your level so that you're able to take on the bosses in each 'dungeon'. This definitely started to wear a little thin and made it difficult for me to pick up my DS and play, knowing that I would have to spend a lot of time grinding up before I could progress.
The audio/visual aspect of the game is what you'd expect from a game that's based on an anime series. The game is very colourful and bright, and was a pleasure to look at while I helped Goku, Piccolo, and Krillin kick some Saiyan butt. The sound effects and music was good - I just wish there was some audio dialogue, but with the small size of a DS cart, it's something I have come to accept won't happen in most games.
The bottom line is that it's a pretty fun little game - especially if you're a fan of the series. However, if you're over 12, don't expect much challenge of out this one. You could most likely go through a lot of the fights with your eyes closed and still come out on top. I’m glad that they moved the series into this format though - because it's a format that needs to be revived. I hope that future iterations will be a little bit more fleshed out and aimed at a slightly older audience. If you like Dragon Ball Z and you've never really played an RPG before - definitely grab this one. For everyone else - a rental might be in order.
Gameplay:6.5, Graphics:7.0, Sound:7.0, Innovation:6.5, Mojo:7.0 Final: 6.8 / 10
Reviewed by Mike Baggley | 01.20.10