Friday, October 5, 2012

Dragon Ball Video Games: A Retrospective Part 9

So, unfortunately, I don't have any screenshots to compliment the remainder of the games I'll be talking about.  On the bright side, we're almost finished with this retrospective.  I'd guess 1 or 2 more posts after this one will wrap it up.  I actually had quite a bit of fun doing this so I might choose another franchise to do the same with in the near future (top choice would be Zelda but retrospectives on that franchise have been done to death).
Well, on with Part 9: DS Games Part 1!

Incidentally, I still think the original DS looks way cooler than the Lite.

DS games are, refreshingly, less of a mixed bag when it comes to Dragon Ball games. None of the ones I've played are outright terrible games and some of them are even stand-outs in their respective genres.

Erm, Puar?  What are you looking at?
This is one of those stand-outs. Dragon Ball Origins is similar to the DS Legend of Zelda titles in that it is controlled (or can be controlled) entirely with the touch screen. I've always liked this idea and never understood those who don't (seriously, why would you want games developed in such a way that totally subverts the entire point of being on their respective system?). Anyway, Origins is a pretty good game, and one of the best-looking games the DS has to offer. It is one of very few games on the DS that uses 3D graphics and doesn't look awful.
The game is hard to categorize into a specific genre since it blends the action adventure elements of the aforementioned Zeldas with straight-up platforming style progression. You do traverse somewhat open environments in all directions, obtain skills and upgrades and battle enemies in real-time combat. The game is also separated into stages and boss battles.
All there really is to say about it is it controls well, it looks good, it has a well-put-together difficulty curve and it's fun to play. Check it out if you get the chance.
My only slight disappointment with the game is that it only covers up to the first World Tournament saga, meanwhile a Dragon Ball title on the previous generation handheld (Advanced Adventure) covered far more.

Now with 50% less upskirt-looking cats and 50% more blackface!
Origins 2
I've only played a demo of Dragon Ball Origins 2 but all in all, it seems like more of the same. That's not a bad thing and there were some minor tweaks that made the controls a little better and added variety to the attacks. If you care about having the whole story and are a fan of the first Origins, I'd say go ahead and pick up Origins 2. Keep in mind that you are almost buying the same game again, just with a story mode that covers the Red Ribbon Army saga to the King Piccolo saga, along with some minor control tweaks. That doesn't make it a bad game, but it does make it an underwhelming sequel.

The American boxart is very lame in comparison so I'm using the Japanese here
Supersonic Warriors 2
The sequel to one of my favourites of the Dragon Ball fighting games. I have mixed feelings about this title as it adds a lot but also drops some of the things that were strong points in the first game.
The character roster is more diverse and the character select is more streamlined. However, as mentioned in Part 8, even the game's Free Play mode lacks the feature of being able to build teams that have multiples of the same character. In fact, it even locks you out from having multiples of a character even if they show as separate characters on the character select. For instance, if you have one of Kid Gohan or “Teen” Gohan (quotation marks used as he is not a teenager) or Adult Gohan on a team, you can't have either of the other two. Come on, game, I want a team of all 3 Gohans!
One of my favourite things to do in the first game was to face 3 of the strongest Vegetas with a team of 1 base-form Goku. It was a great way to create some challenges for yourself and it's gone from the sequel.
The graphics are 'theoretically' improved. The sprites of returning characters are the same and the new introductions keep in consistent style. The backgrounds are actually 3D rendered environments this time, but I actually find myself preferring the backgrounds of the previous title. It might be because the 3D backgrounds occasionally showcase the DS's limitations with jagged geometry and low-resolution textures, but I also find the backgrounds of the first game just a lot more appealing to look at; they seemed more colourful and lively.  Honestly, I find several of the graphics, especially character portraits, to be...'over-streamlined' if there can be such a thing; much of the charm they had in the first game isn't really there anymore.
The story mode feels very uninspired. Once again, every character has their own, unique, 'What-If' story, however this time around very few of the villains get a story where they win. The stories just barely stray from the actual canon and often times will tell you that your character lost a battle regardless of whether or not you actually lost the preceding fight. Compared to the predecessor, this story mode severely lacks originality.
The controls, thanks to the additional buttons on the DS, are a bit more efficient. It isn't a huge improvement but certain things like special moves take less awkward button inputs now. In the first game, special moves were performed by holding R and pressing A+B; holding R was sort of a toggle into energy attack mode. Now, special attacks are a simple press of A+X.
Additionally, there are Team Attacks now. If you have your energy maxed out and you have a pair characters on your team that have a team attack, you can do so by a button on the touch screen. Some of these attacks are really cool, Cell's and Frieza's being my personal favourite.
Supersonic Warriors 2 improves upon the first game but also downgrades and does so in such a way that it ends up being just as good of a game. On the whole it's not an improvement nor is it worse. It's just somewhat different.
Still, both are good games. Go for either one of the two.

Next Time:  The Finale!  The remaining DS title and Wii games.

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