Dragon Ball: Origins for Nintendo DS is the best Dragon Ball game I've seen in a long time.
Goku's adventures as a child show much more ingenuity and charm on the Nintendo DS than most rehashed DBZ games have in the past five years.
There's no Super Saiyans, no exploding planets, and no mention of those infamous power levels - just good, fun martial arts wackiness. With unabashed adult humour, engaging controls, and a funny, memorable story, Dragon Ball: Origins is the best Dragon Ball game I've seen in a long time.
Things were much different during the original Dragon Ball series: Goku was still a pint-sized kid, there were no invading villains from space, and old turtle hermit Muten Roshi was still the strongest fighter in the world.
Dragon Ball: Origins thankfully retains a great deal of humor and content from the original anime series, making the game that much more enjoyable. It also works in the game's favour that Dragon Ball: Origins' story starts from Goku's very first adventure, making it an excellent introduction for gamers who have never heard of (or played) Dragon Ball before.
Still, even if you've played a dozen games from this series before, Dragon Ball: Origins is definitely worth picking up.
Goku's crazy journey
Of course, the graphics in Dragon Ball: Origins are nothing short of impressive. The bright, colourful characters look great in 3D, and while there's not much voice acting to be heard, their body language and facial expressions (especially Bulma and Muten Roshi) got quite a few chuckles out of me.
Many of the levels provide a decent challenge, and there's enough variety to keep things from getting boring. Aside from some dungeon crawling and modest puzzle solving, you'll have plenty of cool boss fights to look forward to, not to mention a few chase scenes on the Flying Nimbus. You can also revisit past levels to find hidden treasure chests and best your completion time, which has its good and bad sides. Once you get through a third of the game, it's really simple to go back with your powered-up abilities, racking up money and experience orbs from now-weaker enemies and bosses. Although it can potentially break the game, playing straight through on the first round isn't that hard in the first place.
Dragon Ball: Origins: power pole, extend!
Dragon Ball: Origins also makes excellent use of the DS stylus. Moving between the touchscreen and the buttons felt natural for me, and with a little bit of practice, I didn't have many problems maneuvering Goku around enemies and obstacles.
Even though there are some occasional control malfunctions, particularly when you're jumping bottomless pits and fighting groups of enemies, they aren't frequent enough to disrupt the gameplay. If anything, it simply made me concentrate on my timing, especially when I wanted to make use of my various special attacks.
Speaking of which, the combat system in Dragon Ball: Origins works quite well, no matter how you adjust to the controls. Being able to level up certain skills (like Goku's Kamehameha Wave) gives you the freedom to augment the techniques that work best for you, and Bulma's armoury does a decent job of keeping her from taking unnecessary hits.
Simply put, Dragon Ball: Origins is the most interesting Dragon Ball adventure that Atari's put on the table since the first Budokai title. Once you get used to the DS controls, everything falls into place and the game just gets better and better. Dragon Ball fan or not, DS owners in general should own DB: Origins.
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