Before we start, let's just get one thing out of the way-I'm indifferent about Dragon Ball Z. I'm not one of those mega fans who watches the show religiously, nor am I one who despises it outright. My knowledge of DBZ is pretty limited (my girlfriend's son watches it and likes it) and has no impact at all on how I felt about Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku.
Now that we've got the disclaimer taken care of, I'll just come out and say that Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku is hands down the worst Game Boy Advance game I've played. It's a monument to ineptitude, a complete waste of time, and a cheap way to cash in on the DBZ fans who're longing for a good game to be made from their favorite anime. Frankly, if someone had given me this game, I'd still feel ripped off. Just how bad is it? Read on and see for yourself.
Goku must save the world
About the only redeeming quality of Legacy of Goku is the story. From what I gather (again, not being a viewer of the show), it's fairly faithful to the series storyline.
Super Saiyan Goku must rescue his kidnapped son Gohan and save the Earth from some guys who are out to destroy it. Nothing ground-breaking, but it's all right as far as stories go.
Along the way, Goku will encounter lots of characters from the anime series, take on some sidequests, die and go to the game's version of Hell, and fight evil to save the planet. Again, it's not the most amazing story ever told, but if you're a fan of the series, you should be pleased with all of the references to the show's story arc.
The story itself is presented in text, which is fairly well written and relatively free from grammatical errors. There's no real voice acting to be found, and the video footage is fairly simplistic in its presentation. All in all, it's not bad-or at least not nearly as bad as most of the other stuff in the game.
Needless to say, the real problems with Legacy of Goku turn up in the gameplay department. Simply put, this is one of the most poorly designed games I've played.
The first flaw is in the combat system. Goku has several forms of attack-he can punch things with his fists, or he can use his ki attacks. Goku has access to three ki attacks by the end of the game, but starts with only one-a fireball. The fireball is somewhat weak as far as attacks go, but you'll find yourself using it time and time again since it offers one advantage-you can attack from a distance.
Why would you want to use a weak distance attack when you can charge in and beat down the bad guys with Goku's bare hands? Because the collision detection in this game sucks-that's why. Running up to even a wimpy little crab and trying to fight it hand to hand is a good way to wind up dead-repeatedly.
Why does this happen? Because the game consistently fails to recognize that Goku is close enough to the enemy to land his blows-despite the fact that he can be standing on top of his opponent. The funny thing is, the game always recognizes that the enemy is close enough to be damaging Goku, which leads to many instances of Goku hitting nothing but air while the nearby wolf picks him apart limb by limb…
The only way to actually get through the early stages is by using the ki attack-no easy feat in its own right since you can only shoot it in straight lines. That's right-you can't move or shoot diagonally in this game. I guess that was just too cutting edge for developers Webfoot Technologies, or something…
The only thing going for Goku is that the enemy AI is absolutely retarded. Monsters often just wander about aimlessly, and with a little luck they'll get trapped behind rocks or trees, allowing you to blast them repeatedly until they're dead.
As Goku fights enemies, he gains experience. Earn enough experience and he grows a level. Completing sidequests will also earn him experience points, as will simply talking to certain characters. How lame is that? I get experience points for talking to characters? I should get experience points for playing this game…Anyway, the max level is 25, which you can reach with minimal effort. I stopped to do a little leveling up once, for about 10 minutes, and I was at level 25 by the end of the game-not that it would have made a difference either way.
Luckily, Goku will eventually learn his second ki attack, which allows combat to go from difficult to insanely easy. Once you learn this attack, you can freeze enemies and get in a few punches (provided, of course, that the collision detection chooses to accept that you are indeed close enough to punch the enemy). You can use this strategy for the rest of the game-including all of the bosses-and not die again. Nice game design, guys.
About the only positive in the gameplay column is that Legacy of Goku is incredibly short. I beat the game in well under three hours, thereby ending my agony in a relatively quick fashion. I probably could have beaten it in less than two hours, had I not died so often in the early going…
While the gameplay is the biggest offender in terms of Legacy of Goku's failure as a game, the graphics aren't anything to write home about, either.
Sporting a visual look best described as 'early 8-bit', the game's graphics are only slightly more impressive than the gameplay. Character sprites are small and bland, they don't animate very fluidly, and the color scheme is bland. Enemies are no better, as witnessed by the uber-lame snakes found in the early stages of the game.
The game does feature a few anime-styled still scenes. These might have been impressive had they not been so grainy and pixilated. However, since they are both grainy and pixilated, they're just another place where the game falls well short of being anything good.
I've already mentioned the major flaws with the control in the gameplay section, but I'll reiterate here.
There is no diagonal movement in Legacy of Goku, meaning that you'll have to walk like an Egyptian to get anywhere. Couple this with the poor collision detection (which not only has Goku missing his enemies in battle, but also getting stuck on things in his environment) and maneuvering through the game becomes a constant source of aggravation. The control in this game is just as bad as the gameplay.
Not much to say here, which is probably a good thing since it means the music wasn't so bad that I felt compelled to remember it.
Play it with the volume down and the stereo on, that way you can at least avoid hearing Goku's death scream a few thousand times in the early going.
Well, it's finally happened-I've found a game that scores lower than Ephemeral Fantasia.
While I disliked both EF and Legacy of Goku almost equally, Fantasia was a little more polished overall (man, I never thought I'd see the day when I typed that sentence). Legacy of Goku is a bad game, made all the worse because its motivations are so transparent. This is a game designed to cash in on the DBZ brand name, and no doubt thousands of copies will be sold on the name alone.
However, this is not a good game-and it's not worth owning, even if you are a DBZ fan, unless you have some sort of masochistic streak that compels you to buy and play awful games. I wouldn't wish Legacy of Goku on my worst enemy, to be honest, and that's saying something because I can be vindictive. Pass this one up-trust me, you'll thank me for it later.