Dragon Ball’s Hidden RPG Classics.
(AfroGamers.com) Dragon Ball has numerous video games. Numerous. The franchise was even producing games when there was no series on the air. Imagine that! Your series ended on U.S. television several years ago and in Japan it was done by 1996. That’s 20 years of the last canonical series in your franchise being completed and there were still games being made! There’s nothing new to add!
That didn’t stop Namco Bandai. Like the necromancers they are, they trotted Dragon Ball Z back out on every console–except for the Wii U, obviously–and you had your Goku and company fix. Now, most of these were fighting games because the Dragon Ball franchise better suited itself to that genre. However, three of the best Dragon Ball games were RPGs that were released in Japan for the Super Famicon (Super Nintendo).
Super Legend of Goku Series
The Super Gokuden or Super Legend of Goku games were two that looked great graphically but could be hell to play. This is all down to the fight mechanic in the game. It relied on rock, paper, scissors–basically chance.
I liked that mechanics were that simple but it can be frustrating because it takes no skill to level up. You just advance through the story across two games into the Namek Saga. As you move through the game, it levels you according to the series progression for Goku so on one hand, it’s not challenging skill-wise but it still has a bit of a challenge in that you can lose by picking the wrong attack compared to what your opponent picks. You also advance the story by answer questions about the series. So if you know your Dragon Ball, you’re fine in this regard.
For a modern day example, it’s the endgame of a fight in Dragon Ball Legends, the mobile game. If you manage to get your finishing attack ready you still have to pick the opposite attack type that your opponent selects.
I will say that compared to my favorite DBZ RPG, the animations and graphics are all tremendous for the 90s. The only way to really play Super Gokuden is on to find a patched ROM and an emulator. While it’s a fun game, that’s more trouble than it’s worth. The main thing I give Super Gokuden credit for is that the first game basically filled in some storyline blanks I had since Dragon Ball wasn’t shown in its entirety until the early 2000s.
COLLECTIVE RATING: 5.5 out of 10 (Passable)
Legend of the Saiyans
So you want a Dragon Ball game with a little more strategy to it? Something of the old school JRPG persuasion? DBZ: Legend of the Saiyans is that game. Also released on the Super Famicon in the early 1990s, it featured a card battle element and is actually a remake of earlier Dragon Ball games for the Nintendo.
If you’ve played the older Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, or Dragon Quest games then you know what you’re in for. You walk around a map, heading to the major fight of the story arc and along the way you have random encounters. Just like most RPGs, these are good for leveling up your Z Fighters. In Legend of the Saiyans, there are levels for characters but there are also the signature power levels.
The game starts at Raditz’s arrival on Earth and you control a party of Goku and Piccolo. Before getting to the fight, you have the chance to train, level up in battle, and get healing cards as needed. As the game goes on, you get more Z Fighters with the invasion of Vegeta and Nappa and the arrival on Namek.
Now, one of the reasons I dig this game–besides the sweet, sweet turn-based combat–is that if you’re really about your ish when it comes to strategy, it rewards you. By that I mean you can save all or most of your team during the Saiyan invasion. Tien and maybe–maybe–those scrubs Chiaotzu and Yamcha can make it to Namek and make your fights there much easier.
The game ends with the battle between Super Saiyan Goku and Frieza. Or does it? No, there’s a special fight afterwards where you face Super Saiyan Vegeta.
Legend of the Saiyans is definitely worth a play. It’s everything I wish Bandai would’ve ran with for a Dragon Ball RPG. At the minimum, the game could’ve started from the beginning of the series but this still works just fine.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Highly Recommended)
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.