Monday, April 14, 2014

Dragon Ball Z: Kyoushuu Saiya-Jin (Famicom, 1990)

The first Dragonball Z RPG is INSANELY BAD. I can't even begin to express just how bad this game is. I think it got a DS remake that was highly-acclaimed, but this game is just.... ehhhhhhh. I mean, yikes. Roughly translated, it's called Assault of the Saiyans.

The game begins with Oddly Flesh-Colored Piccolo and Raditz exchanging pleasantries.

Meanwhile, Gokou and Gohan are cruising around on Kintoun. I kinda wish the show had given us a couple episodes of these guys just hanging out. Instead it launched right into massive crisis mode in like episode one and never really let up.

 The overworld in this game vaguely resembles a board game. You move the characters around on the tiles, and the amount of spaces you move is determined by which card you select in any given turn. However, right away we encounter problem #1 with this game. The characters aren't partied up like they'd be in... any other RPG. Nope, you move them around individually, and if they get into a random battle while more than a square away from each other, they're going it alone. Since going it alone is BAD (not only difficulty-wise, but you're missing out on EXP), you're forced to move your characters one or two squares at a time so that they're always adjacent. Takes ages to get anywhere on the overworld.

 This also means more chances to get randomly attacked, something that happens constantly. Various shades of Saibamen make up the primary foes in this game, at least in this first chapter.

 Strewn about the map are Princess Snake Bathhouses. Characters can get fully restored for free at these places, making them crucial to the grind-fest that is this game. No word on what exactly goes on in these baths or how Princess Snake restores our heroes.

 Whoa! A silver Saibaman. So far we've seen brown and silver. They're like tequila.

The special moves in this game do look a bit cool for the NES. Here's Piccolo charging up for a....

 ...large unnamed energy wave! KABOOM!

 Sometimes your characters level up and get HP/BE bonuses. BE is MP. Every single battle increases their third stat, Battle Power, which determines how much damage they do against foes. If your enemy has higher BP than you, you'll do significantly less damage, and vice versa. Generally you want your BP close to or above any boss, though this goes out the window a bit for the final battle.

 Bulma gives up the Dragon Radar. This helps you find the various Dragonball-grubbing bosses in the game.

There's a memory card game that pops up from time to time. This minigame is CRUCIAL, as it's the source of most of your items. It's also ripe for savestate cheating. In a game this cheap, you might as well take liberties.

If even one of your characters dies, it's game over. This seems to only apply to main characters (Gokou, Gohan, Piccolo). The rest of the cast can die off and as long as you still have other people standing you're good.

In this game Raditz has two accomplices, so there are three Saiyan pods laying around the first area.

 The first is this guy. He's about as difficult as a random battle. I think these two are the illusionary training Saiyans that the Z Fighters had to do battle with in the show.

Speaking of training, there's a hub of training minigames in this part of the overworld. None of them are particularly quicker than just fighting random battles upon random battles, though. And you need to fight 100-200 random battles to be strong enough for Raditz. No, seriously. You need to grind THAT MUCH for the first boss, while inching two different characters around one step each. It's quite rough.

The other Saiyan accomplice is this guy. No idea what their names are, but he's pretty simple to beat as well.

 It's a good little fight, for what it is. These guys are at roughly 500 power level, which makes them quite beatable for Gokou and Piccolo ganging up on them with 450ish.

 The most effective training minigame seems to be this card-flipping game. It's insanely tedious, but ten minutes or so of it yields a +200 power level bonus for one character. That's fairly huge.

Another, similar but more difficult and less rewarding version has your characters carrying boulders. Well, one character. If you aren't fighting battles, characters do these training minigames by themselves. I wonder what the rationale was for making players move and build up characters separately. Luckily, later games in this series correct this massive error in playability.

Here's Raditz, and he's got young Gohan captive in his pod. Let's get the bastard!

When I was a kid watching DBZ, I missed this guy entirely. I started tuning in right when Nappa was defeated, and then after they reached the end of the Saiyan Saga they jumped back to the beginning of the Nappa fight. Next time they jumped back, it was a few episodes before that. So here I was seeing a bit further back in time each rerun round. Saw Raditz in a flashback/dream sequence, and didn't know he was a real character. Thought it was just Gohan having a nightmare, because Raditz looked to me like a fusion of Vegeta and Nappa. I dubbed him"Nappetta" because I didn't know what else to call him. I don't think I actually saw the Raditz battle until around the time I saw the Freeza battle, years later.

 It took me literally HOURS to build up to the BPs you see here. 1500 was recommended by guides, but I figured I could pull it off lower with judicious use of items. I was right. Still... HOURS to build up for the first boss? Yep, the difficulty curve jumped out a fifth-story window after those first two Saiyan fights.

In Legend of the Super Saiya-Jin for the Super Famicom, he was similarly uber-difficult. There was an item that you could get that would trigger Gokou's tail-grab attack, making Raditz vulnerable to a one-hit KO from Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon. This game has no such tail-grab item... that I know of. Nope, it's all just grinding.

Still, I give it a shot. SPECIAL BEAM CANNON!

 This is by far the most damaging attack at this point in the game, and Piccolo should be using it every chance he gets.

Muten Roshi cards and Bulma cards restore HP, while Puar and Popo cards restore BE. Keep Piccolo's BE up so he can fire off beams, and this fight isn't TOO bad.

Victory. Still, the build-up to be able to win this fight was absolutely insane. One of the most tedious things I've ever had to do in a game. I estimate it took about four hours, none of which were fun. The Dragon Warrior games were known for being grindfests, but none of them are this bad. They also have PLENTY of other things to do in terms of story and little quests and dungeons and whatnot. This game has nothing, just an overworld with a boss on it and some NPCs that wish you luck. From there, grind away. I suppose that can be a relaxing type of game, but not when you have to move characters individually one step at a time.

The other two Saiyans are en-route. Of course, they're much stronger than Raditz. Is more grinding on the way? Stay tuned.

 Also, the notorious Garlic Jr. and his three goons have appeared, spoiling for a fight. Yep, this game works Dead Zone into the Saiyan Saga. Well, this gives the Z Fighters something to do in the year that it takes for Nappa and Vegeta to arrive... and gives us more of an actual game. guy summons the surviving Z-Fighters to Kami's Lookout. Seems Gokou was indeed killed during the Raditz fight, as in the show, so the next phase of the game will have these six taking on Garlic Jr and his minions. Tune in tomorrow as I expose the rest of this horrific game.


  1. This looks terrible. Is the entire game really just level grinding for the Saiyan fights?

    1. Pretty much, yeah. This is by far the longest of the four DBZ RPGs on the Famicom, but it's 95% grinding.

  2. Wow, Raditz got a title screen. Some rare love for the guy. Funny you mention that you wish the intro was longer, because in the original series (and the newer dub), it is. Most of the Raditz stuff doesn't start going down until episode 2. You should check episode 1 out.

    1. I'm pretty sure that's Vegeta in the title screen. I'll watch DB Kai at some point, looking forward to seeing an episode one before any bad stuff happens.

  3. Can't believe you've made it this far in this game. I'm impressed by your patience.

  4. There is one Dragon Ball Z game on Nintendo DS called "Attack of the Saiyans" and one called "Harukanaru Densetsu"; the former is named after this one, but it's a traditional JRPG and no cards are involved (the developers were Monolith Soft); the latter has cards, but the plot is longer and ends at the Cell Games. I'm currently playing Harukanaru and I'm enjoying it very much, against my own expectations, but at launch it got "meh" reviews at best; I think Attack of the Saiyans was recieved much better.

    I wasn't a Dragon Ball fan before last December, but when you live in South America, where Dragon Ball has been THE biggest anime franchise of all time since 1995 (and also home to the worst anime fans in the universe, but that's another story), you can't help but feel curious and pick up on some plot details little by little.

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