DRAGON BALL LEGENDS
After the embarrasing Dragon Ball U.B.22, I had lost my faith on Bandai. Even the Dragon Ball games on Super Nintendo was better then their effort on the PlayStation. However, with Dragon Ball Legends, Bandai has proved that they are capable of producing decent games based on their anime licenses on the 32-bit platforms. Unlike what has been reported here on PlayStation Gamer earlier, Dragon Ball Legends is a pure fighting game, not an RPG or strategy game. As a major Dragon Ball fan, I was very biased when I wrote this review. I advice people who are not familiar with Dragon Ball to ignore the ratings here, but read through the review anyway.
The game opens with a nice FMV intro. You see the resurrection of the god dragon with portraits of some characters fading by in the background. The story in the game is based on the whole Z series. All the major fights (8 in total) are included in the story mode. From Vegeta's first appearance to the final battle with kid Buu. Before each fight, some shots of the anime is shown, with a commentator telling the story in Japanese. I must say I was very impressed with the new fighting system. The characters are able to do exactly what they did in the anime series. They can fly miles up to the sky while their opponent is standing on the ground. They can unleash dozens of kicks and punches with a single button press, which gives you the same feeling of speed as in the anime. The fireball attacks have to be seen to be believed. You can also escape from attacks by vanishing, and then appear again behind your opponent with a powerful counter attack. Everything looks just like the anime.
In Legends the player can play with 3 characters at once and battle against the CPU which can also do the same. For example, in one of the fights, you have the choice of Son Gokou, Son Gohan, Trunks, Vegeta, and Piccolo. The player chooses three of them and then battle against Artificial Human 19 and 20. Once they are defeated, number 16, 17 and 18 show up. You can only play as one of your character at a time. The other two are controlled by the CPU and attacks automatically. You can choose to play as either of them whenever you want. You can also swap between the characters you left behind in the beginning. If you get tired, you can let the CPU fight for you while you watch. The other characters like Kaoshin and Tenshinhan (according to how far you have progressed in the game) and the characters you did not choose give comments while you are watching. Confused about all this? The following is even worse.
The point of the game is to wipe out all your opponents health, but this cannot be done directly by just attacking. At the bottom of the screen there is a meter showing the powerbalance. In the beginning, the meter is divided into blue and red. Blue represents the player's standings and red represents the CPU's. Each time the player hits any of the opponents, the blue area increase. The opposite happens when the opponents hit anyone in the player's team. When the meter is totally blue or red, either the player or the computer can perform a special attack like Kamehameha. Then the health is reduced. This makes the battles last very long, as you can only cause damage to one character with the special attack. You can save the game after each fight, so if you get tired, you can always come back later.
The game music fits the action quite well. The ending music is also very nice. All the speeches are taken from the actors in the anime. Everyone who has seen it should recognize the things they say before firing a major fireball.
The graphics in the game are not exceptional good, in fact the characters look a bit blocky. But you can recongize every character at once. Their moves are taken straight from the anime, which gives you a feeling of seeing and controlling the anime. The main attractions in the game are, in my opinion, the number of characters (35 in total) and the special attacks (just spectacular).
As for the non-Japanese PlayStation owners, here comes something annoying. This game will never make it to US or any other places (except France perhaps), so you have to use the swaptrick to play it. But the CD has 30 tracks, and it is impossible to find a boot CD that works perfect.
In the end, I just have to stress that non-Dragon Ball fans should stay away from this game. If you are not familiar with Dragon Ball, this is just another weird import game. But if you are a fan of Dragon Ball, you simply can't afford to miss this. It is definitely the best Dragon Ball game out there. The gameplay can get repetitive after a while since you do the same in each battle, but I enjoyed it very much while it lasted.