Anyway, to the point. Dragon Ball Z is quite easily the most recognisable cartoon to come out of Japan. I remember the days of my childhood where I would wish to have the strength of Goku, the healing powers of Piccolo, and the bad-ass attitude of Vegeta. So seeing another Dragon Ball Z game out on the DS put a smile straight on my face. This new game, Dragon Ball Z: Goku Densetsu, is card based- a striking contrast to your usual frantically fast paced beat-em-up’s that DBZ games are renowned for. Time to see whether or not this bold step was pulled off successfully...
I'm sure at some point all of us have played, or at least observed, a card based battle game; Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, or even Top Trumps. We all know how they work, and at the basic level Goku Densetsu is exactly the same: You are outfitted with a deck of cards that you use to move around the map and battle with your foes. These cards all have varying functions and stats which indicate how powerful they are- the stronger the card, the stronger you become in battle, simple.
In battle; an attack card will do damage to an opponent, an energy card will raise the strength of your cards at hand, training will raise the defence values of your cards, use item will let you use one of the items you have picked up in your adventure, event will summon another character to do an action on your behalf, reverse will swap the power value of you and your opponents cards, and hide will let you flee from the non-necessary battles.
Outside of battles, the functions of the cards become slightly different... See, in order to progress though the story, you need to move around a map of the level. These maps contain a series of connected linear paths that lead to the end goal. To move along these paths you need to use cards- the same ones that you use in battle. The paths you progress along are like those of a board game- a series of steps, each representing one move. The power value of the card used will determine how far the player can move. If on your turn an enemy decides to randomly attack you, you have the chance of avoiding this, so long as the card you used to move has a higher guard value than the opponents attack. This adds a tactical edge to moving around the map, especially when you are low on health. Just like in battles, each card type used will have a different effect; using the attack card lets you attack first, the energy card will increase your strength for a turn, training raises defence for a turn, reverse will swap out your entire hand of cards, use item will let you use an item (no surprises there), event will cause a friend to bring you an item, and hide lower the chances of a random encounter.
Occasionally on the map you will encounter events; which differ from visiting an item shop to healing points. You will also come across some enemies and obstacles that simply cannot be avoided. Really though, all the map does is provide a break from otherwise constant battles... and occasionally give a bit of information on what's going on in the story. In a nutshell, it feels shallow- lacking any significant depth.
Regardless of these comments, the younger gamers who watch Dragon Ball Z and collect cards will love this title. For those of us who are a bit older, there is nothing that will be able to challenge our minds or rekindle our childhood memories. Kids, give this a go if you are a Dragon Ball Z fan. Adults, I think its time we moved on from this franchise.
The bottom line? The game isn't good or bad; it sits squarely on the average mark.