There have been many Dragon Ball Z games in recent memory (both good and bad), but the same cannot be said for the original Dragon Ball series. You know, back when main protagonist Goku was three feet tall and had a tail? Back then the series had an engaging story that wasn’t about power levels. Thankfully, we have the Dragon Ball Origins series from Namco Bandai to fill that void. Like the first game in the series, Origins 2 is a DS action adventure title that closely follows the original anime’s plot…sometimes a little too closely.
Dragon Ball has always been a more loveable and accessible show than its big brother Dragon Ball Z, and Origins 2 does a very good job of conveying the humor and style of the older show on the DS. As Goku you will journey through forests, caves, deserts and more while you progressively build your move repertoire and raise your stats. Much like its predecessor, Origins 2 does not bring much of anything new to the action adventure genre, but what it does it does well. It’s a very polished title with great pacing and satisfying mechanics. Players can choose between button-based or touch controls—both schemes work well but have their advantages and disadvantages. I chose to use buttons most of the time because I found it easier to remember Goku’s ever expanding moveset that way.
Dragon Ball Origins 2 picks up where the first game left off, so if you didn’t play that game or haven’t seen the anime (or read the manga), it is probably a good idea to do so. That said, the game can be perfectly enjoyable on its own as well, if you don’t mind wondering where the colorful cast of characters actually came from. In this outing, Goku must battle the domineering Red Ribbon Army and its hordes of soldiers and robots. For the most part the enemies are easy to dispatch, but some of the bosses can prove to be quite tricky. Most of the game takes place from an isometric overhead perspective, but a few boss battles switch to a 2D “fighting game” perspective, which is a nice change of pace. By the end of the game Goku should be so powered up that players are able to handle anything that comes their way.
Origins 2 has very nice graphics for a DS game; it does an admirable job of emulating the look of the TV series. The game also does a great job of presenting the storyline from the show/manga, but I found this to actually hinder the game a bit. Every new level of the game starts off with a lengthy cutscene featuring limited voice work. The cutscenes themselves can be fairly entertaining because they are pulled straight from the show, but after a while it gets a bit tiresome to watch instead of play. If you do not know the story you may not feel the same way, but I found myself wishing to skip everything after a while just to get into the action.
The main story campaign of Origins 2 is quite lengthy, even taking the over abundance of cutscenes into account. With all of its extra levels and modes, the game also proves to be quite replayable as well. If you are a Dragon Ball fan, or an action-adventure fan, this game is definitely up your alley. A game as polished as Origins 2 doesn’t come around all that often—I fully recommend a purchase.
Pros: highly polished, good controls, nice graphics, decent replayability
Cons: cutscenes are too numerous and a bit too lengthy