Friday, April 18, 2014

Dragonball Z: Ressen Jinzouningen (Famicom, 1992)

 The next game covers the Android Saga. The title is, literally, "Violent Battle Against the Androids". It isn't as good as the previous game, as much as I wanted it to be. The thing is, the Freeza Saga is pretty much MADE to be an RPG. It has an overworld, townspeople, item-collecting, lots of fodder minions, and a real party. The Android Saga, on the other hand, is a lot like the Saiyan Saga. It's all either building-up/training or one-on-one fights. Not a whole lot else happens in-between. This doesn't make for a very good RPG.

The title screen is oddly Gohan-less, which is the first sign that this game won't cover Cell. While this game is often incorrectly referred to as the Cell Saga RPG, it's the Android Saga and nothing further. It's also the end of the line for this series, unfortunately. At least in terms of chronologically following the show. There's a Gaiden after this based on one of the TV specials, but that's it.

The game begins with Freeza Vs. Gokou on Namek. RIGHT where the previous game left off.

Gokou goes Super Saiyan, and the battle is on. Would have been better off at the end of the previous game, but I already covered that, and this ship has long since sailed.

Namek falls apart in the background as these bitter foes jaw at each other. Namek is the unsung victim in this whole deal, but the show doesn't really care about it so it's hard for us viewers to care about it.

The battle system from the previous two games returns... for the most part. There are no more power levels, just regular RPG levels. Everyone starts somewhere in the 30's and you'll want to be 47+ by the final boss.

The battles are VERY sped-up compared to the previous games. On one hand, it's difficult to catch most of what happens. At least the battles are over quick.

After a very fast, un-losable battle, an obliterated Freeza is left floating around in space. "Hello?" he says.

The first overworld consists of a couple towns and plenty of landscape to fly back and forth over. You see three characters onscreen at a time, but you move all of them at once. Thank God.

Here's the full party, led by Gohan. The three in the top row are the ones who actually engage in battle, while the three on the bottom row stay out until someone in the frontline gets knocked out. The cool thing is that the back row characters sometimes launch energy attacks at the beginning of a turn. Kuririn and Tien have the most devastating attacks (that hit all foes, which is a big deal) while Chaozu can cause foes to miss a turn. Kuririn starts out in the third main spot, but I switched him out for Yamcha since Yamcha lacks a good back row energy attack. As a result, Yamcha gets to be the third man for now. IT'S YAMCHA'S TIME!

Oh... uh... hello, Mr. Popo. Can I help you?


Random overworld battles are with Freeza goons, much like the previous game. At least, here in the first chapter. These jobber fights are a bit more difficult than the previous game. The party being three characters instead of five actually makes a huge difference, as damage stacks up on your three characters much more quickly. Also, enemies frequently outnumber you in this game, which never happened in the previous game. No free heals every round from Bulma either.

The first objective of the game is to get explosives from this... bear fox mole rat guy.

Here's an example of being outnumbered. Happens a lot. The cards are slightly different in this game; cards with a heart on them give you a heal. This heal can be anywhere from 10% to full, depending on the luck of the draw. Once you see how strong it'll be you choose which character to use it on. Having a stock of heart cards on hand for boss fights is a good idea.

There's a training minigame where you have to match cards with Chi Chi... who looks like a screaming banshee.

One of the cards you can randomly get is Namek Shenlong, who gives you three wishes. Cool. Choices for wishes include reviving a character, fully restorying a character, or bestowing some exp on a character. Usually I'd opt for exp three times, but in this case there are a couple of characters in dire need of healing.

This weird cave formation is where you use the explosives to get a Dragonball. It appears that the first chapter of the game is a fairly long Dragonball hunt. The pacing of this game is very odd; it spends a long time dragging out minor parts of the show, then when you get to the good stuff everything happens super-quickly.

The next Dragonball is located on this guy's farm. There's a DINOSAUR hanging out and he wants our heroes to get rid of it. Commence Fetch Quest!

Rather than fighting the dinosaur, our heroes trek all the way back to the first city to buy Laxative from a kindly pharmacist. No, I'm not making this up.

Creeping back across the overworld and clashing with numerous random enemies in the process (yawn) I notice something weird. About half the time when you get into a battle in this game, it doesn't even go to the battle screen. You get this animated auto-battle sequence on the overworld that consists of the good guys and bad guys flying around and slamming into each other. Repeatedly. For a while. It gets very tedious to watch this over and over again.

Somewhat baffling that they made this addition to the game after they had sped up and refined the battle system to make it so fast and furious. Half the time we get this super-slow animated version instead. Just bizarre.

Our heroes give Laxative to the dinosaur, and it poops out the Dragonball. Turns out that the 'Ball was the source of the dinosaur's indigestion. Kuririn has to get the Dragonball out of the poop, since he doesn't have a nose.

...not joking, all of this happens.

After that, the chapter mercifully ends and we cut to Vegeta. The Prince of All Saiyans is looking for the last Dragonball in some snowy landscape, and runs into someone else who is looking for it.

FIRST BOSS! Vegeta takes on Saiza, one of Kooler's goons. This fight is extremely easy, and over quickly. Saiza won't be so easy later on.

Wait, what? Kooler? Yes, Kooler is in this game. Despite the name of the game, I'd go so far as to say Kooler is the primary antagonist.

Meanwhile, our heroes have scavenged all of the Dragonballs from various dung-piles, and use them to summon the Namek Shenlong.

At this point you have two choices: He can either give any character one level, or you can play a Senzu Bean growing minigame. Since levels are easy to get and Senzu Beans are the ultra-rare Elixir of this game, it's a no-brainer. Unfortunately, I didn't realize until it was too late that I was supposed to be mashing a button to grow the Senzu plant, and I ended up getting nothing out of this minigame. It pops up a second time later on, at least... got a few from that one.

King Kai takes time out of his busy schedule of doing nothing to warn our heroes that more evil powers are approaching. In this case, he's talking about...

...Mecha-Freeza and his dad, the nefarious King Cold. Due to his massive injuries, Freeza is PISSED, and ready to exact vengeance on Earth. Since Gokou isn't back yet, do our heroes have a chance?

Nope. No matter what, all of their attacks miss Freeza, and he wipes the floor with them quickly.

Yamcha has an attack in this game called Spirit Bomb, and it appears to be the actual Genki Dama. Maybe he got that during his King Kai training? The shock here is that Yamcha actually has a powerful move. Alas, this too poses no threat to Freeza.

But wait! Trunks has arrived. Now I'll whoop both of these guys!

....or a cutscene will! Well, that was a bit disappointing. I guess it was vital that I control the action while our heroes rummage in dinosaur poop, but Trunks vs. Freeza and King Cold wasn't important enough to be a controllable part of the story.

Trunks is, of course, the second Super Saiyan, and from the future. If you haven't seen this show, go watch the first 200 episodes. I'll wait. The Android/Cell Saga (episodes 100 to 200 or so) is my favorite, so I'm excited for this game. Being able to control Super Saiyans might well be the selling point here, but they already blew one potential major battle.

Gokou returns, and you control him as he beats down Trunks in a friendly spar. Much like the show, Hulk Gokou needs to show his superiority over Trunks immediately, lest we start thinking another good guy is as important as he is or anything. BROTHERRR.

The threat from the Freeza family isn't over yet, as Kooler is on the way. Freeza's big brother is the most powerful of the group... if you take the DBZ movies as canon, at least. If you don't, then Kooler's existence makes little sense after the show made it pretty clear that Freeza was the strongest being in the galaxy.

Vegeta is controllable again at this point as he gets another solo chapter. In a haunting flashback to Kyoushuu Saiyans, the only real objective in this chapter is to grind out a few levels for him and fight one of Kooler's goons.

Said goon is absolutely the hardest fight in the game. This one takes a lot of luck to win, even after some grinding. Going in with a full supply of heart cards is advised to keep Vegeta healed, since the boss can beat him in two or three hits. If he launches an energy attack and it lands, the fight is likely over. However, if Vegeta manages to repel it (a new addition to this game), it'll take off about 40% of the boss's health. When I finally won, it was after a repel. Again, tons of luck involved. I guess you're supposed to grind like crazy before this fight.

The Game Over screen is a somewhat gruesome image of a battered Gokou expiring. Saw this a few times on this fight until the random number generator showed me favor.

Vegeta reunites with the other characters, and it's time for TRAINING! HOORAY! If I weren't playing all of these games in succession, this would be more fun. As it is, I'm starting to reach burnout right about now. Not quite, but close. One more game after this...

Training. There's basically no way to lose here and you can do it until you run out of cards. It grants a few levels to whoever you spend time doing this with. I focused mainly on Gokou, thinking he'd be around the most, but this was a bit of a mistake. Gohan and Piccolo would have been better choices.

Vegeta has his own training minigame, and as is tradition, he's by himself for this one. It's another easy one that more or less just kills time. The game needs it; it's barely a 4 hour game, if that.

I take a moment to run Gokou through Chi Chi's training minigame. I wonder if this is a Chi Chi Pleasuring Minigame and Gokou is just really, really bad at it.

Back to the main squad. New overworld, and this is the one you spend the most time in. I totally neglected to take screenshots of it, but you spend a lot of time flying around fighting Kooler's jobber soldiers to rescue townspeople. And getting into random fights. And getting lost. And trying to save enough people to make this one townsperson happy so he'll let you through (.....righto). After all of that, you fight another Freeza goon. He's almost as tough as the previous one, but having multiple characters for this fight makes it far more winnable.

In any case, I just covered the first 90% of the runtime of this game. Now to cover the last 10%, where everything happens...

Saiza returns. He and Kooler are the next challenges, and you have to fight them in rapid succession. Need to build up quite a bit for this. I got Gokou to level 49 (out of a maximum of 50), which, again, was a mistake.

During the Saiza battle, I finally have a real chance to unleash SSJ. It uses quite a bit of MP, which is a bit of a limitation. Can't use it and immediately follow it with your strongest attack, for instance.

After Saiza is dispatched, Vegeta joins the fray. And now HE TOO is a Super Saiyan. Awesome!

Kooler is a formidable foe. At this point the characters are all close to max level, so it isn't too difficult.

But wait! Kooler has a trick up his sleeve. Like his brother, he can transform.

He only has one upgrade form, oddly. Wonder how many King Cold had. We never got to see him do much of anything. Maybe he was already in his second form. Was Freeza's first form actually a higher number, and he went through other forms in the past to defeat progressively stronger enemies? Does their race have more than three people in it? Are there women? What is their race called? Can they downgrade forms after they win a battle, or are they permanently stuck?

He's even stronger in this form, especially with no Senzu Beans. With Gokou and Vegeta both teeing off on him, it isn't too bad.

Next up, the game splits the party up. NO! NOOOOOOOO!

You have to move all the characters around, individually, searching a huge new overworld for Androids #19 and #20. This is probably the worst part of the whole game. The overworld is humongous, and once someone stumbles upon the Androids, they have to fight alone until the others catch up (moving once after every battle turn). I used a walkthrough and got the exact location of the enemy, saving myself what might have been hours of frustration. The good news is that random battles are nonexistent on this map.

Piccolo is one step away from where the Androids are lurking (they're west of him). Does this look at all unusual? Nope. There's nothing marking the spot. This overworld is something like 30 screens, so if I didn't have exact directions from the one landmark, this would be literally like finding a needle in a haystack. It's nearly as ridiculous as some of the requirements in the first RPG. Question is, what's worse? Fighting 200 battles to get strong enough for the first boss, or finding one specific square on a 30 screen overworld? On the bright side, you don't see ludicrous things like this in modern games. Or even most retro games. Closest thing I can think of is having to dodge 200 lightning bolts in a row in Final Fantasy X.

Here's Dr. Gero and his Japanese sex robot bodyguard. Gero/Android #20 never actually fights in the show, and this game sticks to that. Android #19 is the next boss.

You may notice a lack of Gokou at this point. If you're unlucky, he'll come down with heart issues and leave the party after the fight with Kooler. In other words, you're without your best character for the actual fights with the Androids. It seems to be a random occurrence, meaning it's possible to have Gokou here. Didn't happen in my game, though. He's gone, and the time I spent raising his levels turned out to be a waste of time. And where's Trunks, anyway? Haven't seen him since the beginning. They sure did downplay the use of Super Saiyans in this game.

A lack of Gokou doesn't slow the party down much, as Piccolo UNLEASHES HELL!

...Could Android #19's character portrait be any creepier?

This fight is surprisingly easy given how tough most of the earlier fights are. Then again, at this point the characters are close to max level...and have been since before Kooler. Can coast through this fight on Auto battle... and most of the fights from here on out, too.

After defeating Android #19, Dr. Gero flees to his laboratory and activates the other Androids. They then proceed to kill him as thanks, before turning their attention to our heroes. There's no break or pause between the previous fight and this one, so you better be as prepared as you're going to get before you stumble upon and fight Android #19.

Trunks rejoins to form the final party. Kuririn, Yamcha and Tien are oddly absent, not sure what happened to them. Maybe they flew away with Gokou. Chaozu is still here to occasionally freeze enemies from the back row (which is super-useful). Trunks is oddly low-powered at this point and should be kept in the back row to keep him from being one-shotted. Wow, they really sold Trunks short in this game.

Chaozu's time-stop ability actually works on Androids #17 and #18, shockingly enough. It almost trivializes the fight because he freezes them every couple of turns from the safety of the back row.

Vegeta, Piccolo, and Gohan do all the heavy lifting. The low difficulty of this fight is pretty anticlimactic; for a game based on the Android Saga, we don't even see them until the last 15 minutes of the game and they're simple to beat.

No Genki Dama spamming in this game. Just a matter of having high enough levels and wailing on them. The good news is that the massive amount of exp you get for defeating these two bumps everyone up... most importantly Trunks, who gains quite a few levels and becomes an actual usable character for the next fight.

The final real battle is with Android #16. I thought maybe this battle would pull out all the stops and give us a true struggle, but... nope, not really. Kuririn returns for this one, but I quickly switched him out for Trunks. This fight is yet another in the rapid succession of Android battles that bring this game to a fast end. No pause or break after the last fight. It's like the developers ran out of time or something.

Android #16 is the strongest of all the Androids, but not by a huge margin. Trunks finally gets his moment in the sun as he leads the charge here (Vegeta got knocked out during the previous battle).

After defeating Android #16, we go to cutscene. There's another threat out there...and Piccolo is going to find it.

There's Imperfect Cell in all his insectoid glory. And now we go right into yet another boss fight. What, no lengthy pointless overworld-comb to find him?

This is a one-on-one fight, and with Piccolo at max level it's pretty easy. I don't even consider it a real final battle; Android #16 covered that. This guy is more like that very last form of Sephiroth that you fight at the end of FFVII and just beat the tar out of.

One cool thing about this is that Piccolo gets to stand tall. It's pretty awesome to have one of these games end with a non-Gokou character saving the day.

This fight isn't impossible to lose like Gokou/Freeza at the outset, but you'd have to be pretty bad at the game for that to happen. After Piccolo's win, Cell says some stuff...

...and then we get this chilling shot of Cell's second form as Gokou, evidently, wakes up from his coma. Well, we ALMOST had a Gokou-free finale. And this is the last screen of the game. No credits, no nothing. To be continued? Alas, they never made a sequel.

Thoughts on this game? It's extremely shallow; level grind, fight boss, repeat. Levels alone with no real ability variety are boring, and it definitely lost something by omitting power levels. Aside from a few ill-advised overworld combing sequences, nothing in this game takes any real time or has any real weight to it. None of the fights (except that one) are difficult if you're leveled sufficiently, and it's hard not to be leveled sufficiently given the amount of exp that forced training cutscenes dole out. The one truly difficult fight is super-early in the game, against an unimportant goon. The pacing is really bizarre, with almost everything of importance happening in the last half hour of the game. The three and a half hours that I played before that were quite boring and uneventful.

In closing, this really does seem like the first half of a larger game, not a game of its own. Something weird happened during the development of this game, and the end product, like Imperfect Cell, is somewhat misshapen and incomplete. In a way, it's kinda fascinating to look at. Not worth playing, though.


  1. Thanks for doing this awesome write-up. I've never heard of this game much less seen it in its entirety. Thanks for suffering through it (hope you didn't suffer too much).

  2. "Go watch the first 200 episodes, I'll wait" - HA

    These games seem pretty hit or miss.

  3. I was going to mention time pressure so I'm glad you did. As players we have the finished product forever unchanged, but for the people who made this there must have been a lot of real-world problems to deal with, and time was clearly a big one here.

    Starting one game with the end of Freeza and the next with the end of Cell is an interesting way to plug for the next title even though it goes against the video game concept of a game feeling complete.

    Interesting also that they had the balance in the last game and then lost it here. Might the desire/need to change things hold us back sometimes?

    1. Those are some good points.

      Holding off on the final boss until the beginning of the next game = WTF. Only bad thing about Gekishin Freeza.

      #16 really shouldn't have been the final boss of the Android Saga RPG, Cell should have. A real fight, I mean, not a gimme. #16 was only slightly stronger than #17 and #18, who you have to fight combined before that. So basically you have a second-to-last boss that is much harder than the last boss, the fairly tame in comparison last boss, and then a total gimme fight that should have been the real grand finale.

      One thing I like about this site is that I can add things to old posts if I want to. It's something I make very little use of, generally only editing for fixes. So the finished product isn't locked into being forever unchanged. For instance, if I manage to actually beat the Special Cup in SMK, I can add those levels to the post. Though it's possible I'll do an entirely new post for that since it has turned out to be such an epic battle.