This card-based role-playing game captures the popular Dragon Ball Z television series plots well, while providing engaging game play on the double screened Nintendo DS.
The game’s variety lies in the cards (five in each deck) where players even get the rare chance to run and hide. Many cards provide positive assistance at specific instances and even a player’s entire card deck. Event cards recruit help in attacks while training cards increase defense capabilities.
The game play is simple and has a board game like format to compliment the card play. Smart cards can prevent enemies from ever taking a turn, as opposed to more conventional RPGs where the heroes usually sit and take damage in between dishing it out themselves.
Other cards allow switches and other moves making game play pretty unpredictable. The all-powerful Z cards can do everything. The higher offensive amount on the card the better. A high defense can help players avoid battles.
Players begin each level on a game board with an objective to reach and a maximum number of turns available to them. The multiple levels transition well (each level takes about half an hour to complete). Each level’s map resembles a board game as players move according to their card data.
Seasoned players will enjoy beginning at the start of the series, with Raditz’s arrival on Earth then proceeding through the Saiyan Saga to the Cell Saga, while beginners can catch up on their background knowledge (it does help).
The knowledge enhances play and certainly puts more purpose and/or meaning behind the constant battling. Experienced players reduce their learning curve by knowing the friends/alliances, though information is, of course, provided for unfamiliar players.
The story mode uses one of three protagonist characters familiar to most seasoned fans (a fourth is unlockable). In the collection mode, players view cards and interact in other features. Multiplayer modes include wireless play for up to four players (tag, racing and Dragon Ball collecting) and download play one-on-one card battles, but no co-op options are available.
The graphics don’t get very deep and stick to the 2-D format. The music is pretty average and there’s not much sound effects to pump up the excitement, which lies in the statistics and card play in this game.
High card wins – it’s that simple, but you have to (like they say in “The Gambler”) know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. Just like a real card game, you can’t hold onto your favorites for extended time periods like some other card based RPG games, so “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”
There are a few twists, some challenging bosses and an unlockable card gallery that shows off all played cards along with their stats. The tutorials run a bit long, but are filled with good humor. An extra gallery allows players to listen to the entertaining audio clips that occasionally surface when battling.
Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence and Mild Language.