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“Revenge of King Piccolo”


Advance Adventure came out for the GameBoy Advance in Japan on 18 November 2004. Developed by Dimps (who also created the Budokai series on Playstation 2 and ported the first two games to Gamecube), it was one of the only non-Z games released since the transition took place in Japan back in 1989. Other than a Wonderswan port of an old Famicom game in 2003, any non-Z material was simply tacked-on to a more all-inclusive game. Advance Adventure is highly regarded by fans and non-fans alike, with its brilliant animation and smooth, action-packed game play.

Even further back in July 2004, however, a listing and description for a game called Dragon Ball: Red Ribbon Army Saga appearedon Atari’s website (who had the North American distribution license at the time). The listing was taken down soon after, and other than Advance Adventure (which was a Japanese-produced game, unlike the GBA-fare of the time commissioned and produced by Atari), any non-Z material seemed to be a figment of fandom’s imagination.

Flash forward to February 2009. Internal sources gave us some sneak-peak info that a new, non-Z game was in development, and was set to focus (at least partially) on the Red Ribbon Army story arc of the series. Not only that, but it would be for the Nintendo Wii… an interesting choice, given that fans naturally assumed that with the release of Burst Limit on the PS3 and 360, any non-handheld games would go to the high-def machines. Sure, handhelds would be pumping out games like Dragon Ball Evolution and Dragon Ball DS / Origins (both of which are technically pre-Z), but a new game on the Wii? It would have to be a very specific type of game to take advantage of the hardware and separate itself from the rest of the crowd.

In May 2009, a fiscal report from the Japanese side of Namco-Bandai indicated that a new DBZ video game was in development for the PS3 and 360 (which would later be revealed as Raging Blast). Only a week later, a Jump magazine featured a large spread on the new game, entitled 天下一大冒険 (Tenka’ichi Dai-Bōken), or The World’s Greatest Adventure. Once the news hit, the various worldwide branches of Namco-Bandai began formally announcing the game (internationally called Revenge of King Piccolo), along with a bit of breaking news for North America — Atari seemingly no longer held the license to release DB games in this territory, and they would all be handled beginning in 2010 by Namco-Bandai themselves, starting a little bit early with the release of three new games in late 2009 (Revenge of King Piccolo, Raging Blast, and Saiyan Invasion).

Though it came out on 23 July 2009 in Japan, we would not see Revenge of King Piccolo in North America until 20 October 2009. Does a new North American publisher, a trip back into early DB nostalgia, and a waggle-licious platform deliver on its promises?

Quick Details:

ASIN: B002DY9KCU
Developer: Media.Vision
Publisher: Namco-Bandai
Release Date: 20 October 2009
MSRP: $39.99
Platforms: Nintendo Wii

Review of this game was made possible through a copy provided by Namco-Bandai. If you are interested in contributing to the site, please visit our “Donate” page or contact us directly.

Review By: Mike LaBrie (VegettoEX)

So how about that there video game…?

How We Gamed:

Since the “Greatest Hits” release of Budokai 3 on the Playstation 2, some (but not all) of the new Dragon Ball video games with a new vocal opening theme carried its song over to the North American release (with the exceptions being Super Dragon Ball Z and the Budokai Tenkaichi series, which replaced all of the openings, though only the third game had an all-new song composed for it). There was some concern over the inclusion of the game’s new vocal opening theme, “POWER OF DREAMER” (performed by Hiroki Takahashi, who also performed the TV series’ opening theme), and the Japanese language track now that a new publisher would be releasing the game. All fears were abandoned when the blaring horns introduced Takahashi’s familiar voice in the game’s opening video, with the only change being the title of the game. The full-length vocal version is also present in the ending credits to the game, and can be unlocked for repeated viewings in the game’s shop.

(For a full review of the “POWER OF DREAMER” CD single, please read its respective review page.)

As with any North American release of a Dragon Ball game, the first thing I do is hop over into the options to switch the language track to Japanese. All preview versions of the game shown off at conventions and trade shows seemed to contain this language track, so our hopes were high that it would carry over to the final product. We are happy to say that Masako Nozawa lovers will find exactly what they are looking for… if you know where to look. In a strange move, there is no clearly-labeled language or audio option. Instead, if you wish to switch the language track to Japanese, you must visit the “Subtitles” area of the “Options” menu; it is in here you will find the English/Japanese toggle for the voices. You will hear dubbed versions of Goku and Kame-Sen’nin announcing the game until your save loads up, though (at which point the Japanese voice for Kame-Sen’nin immediately kicks in). Related to the language selection is, of course, the translation. Have no fears, for the translation (at least in the subtitles; I cannot speak for the English dub) is very faithful to the spoken Japanese dialogue. It also appears that, as with Super Dragon Ball Z, the Japanese sound effects text as Goku smacks enemies around has been translated to English.

These are all just minor housekeeping issues, though. Most important is the game itself — how it plays, how it controls, how it looks, how it sounds — the overall experience. Leading up to the game’s release, I purposefully kept myself in the dark in terms of the finer details. Being a non-Z game for the first time in so long, I was very much looking forward to digging back into Goku’s early adventures and did not want much “spoiled” for me (realizing that, of course, I already know the entire story inside and out). Beyond a couple screen shots and information on its various control options, it was almost a blind jump.

There were the Famitsu scores, though: 6/6/5/6 = 23/40. That is average by its very definition. Knowing that quantified scores (which is something we will never do) are nothing more than a matter of taste put through an unquantifiable filter of quantification (if that makes any sense!), I tried to keep them out of my mind as much as possible.

We tried an interesting experiment for our first game play experience with the game: live streaming. We set up a webcam focused on our gaming setup (a Wii hooked up via component cables to a Sony STRDG920 7.1 A/V Receiver, itself hooked up via HDMI to a Pioneer PDP-5020FD Kuro 50″ Plasma TV). Of the available control options, we went with a Gamecube controller (and specifically a wireless Wavebird). A microphone was set up off-camera in front of myself and our regular podcast guest Jeff, who provided additional commentary and answered questions from the chat. We had approximately 20-25 people at any given time after a very short-notice plug of the event on Twitter.

One snag that we ran into right off the bat was actually confirming the creation of a save file. After starting the game up, no control input would allow me to move up or down or confirm the “Yes”. The directional pad on the Wii Remote did not work, plugging in a Nunchuck did not work, and plugging in a Classic Controller did not work. The problem was that since a Gamecube controller was plugged into the first slot in that area, the game auto-defaulted to that device as the primary controller. Even with the Wavebird not yet switched on, the game refused to acknowledge the input of any other controller. It was a minor issue, but a head-scratching one none-the-less.

We immediately jumped into the main “Adventure” mode of the game (having already changed over the language track the night before). A little under four hours was spent with the game in a nearly non-stop gaming session. I played complete through the first four “Stages” of the game (comprised of three, four, four, and five individual levels within, respectively). This concluded with the battle against T’ao Paipai, which itself took an uncounted number of retries and nearly an hour’s worth of frustrating attempts. We will cover the extras and unlockables later on, but when you are first playing the game, be sure to back out to the main menu and go shopping for health meter extensions as they become available… they will be invaluable for keeping your frustration level down. After this live gaming session, the rest of the single-player game was completed on individual time in shorter spurts (roughly an hour at a time).

The main “Adventure” mode was completed in roughly 7.5 hours of game play time (which included many retries on the T’ao Paipai battle, and several on the final Piccolo-Daimaō battle). 25 of 40 secrets were obtained on the first playthrough.

Other than the single-player “Adventure” mode, the only other game play mode is the “Tournament” in which a single player can take on a series of computer-controlled opponents, or against a second human player.

Presentation:

Revenge of King Piccolo is presented in a nearly-16:9 aspect ratio (with the slightest of extra pillar bars on the sides) if available for display, and otherwise has a standard 4:3 aspect ratio. With our Wii already set to display in widescreen, the game auto-defaulted to this setting.

The menu system reminds us of Super Dragon Ball Z in its colorful presentation and semi-desaturated background panels done in manga panel style. Everything is big, simple, and easy to navigate. There are a few confusing options buried away (such as the aforementioned language selection), but they ultimately let you slip around with ease.

The story progresses from Goku’s first encounters with the Red Ribbon Army up through his defeat of Piccolo-Daimaō. Most story-telling is done via short cut-scenes in between stage battles, which toss character cutouts on-screen to speak dialogue. The character models are not animated, though they will occasionally swap out for an emotionally-appropriate variation of the character’s pose. They do not hop around and slam into each other a la Dragon Ball Evolution on the PSP, which helps keep the hokeyness to a minimal level. There are also fully animated (with the in-game engine) cut-scenes, with the character models being well-animated when necessary. Unless you are already a fan of the series, however, you will probably get fairly lost fairly fast. Beyond an opening narration for each “Stage” that may or may not mention them, characters will randomly pop up to speak that have not shown up at all until that very point in time. Who is Yamcha? Who is Krillin? Who is Bulma? Furthermore, why does Kuririn (Krillin) look identical to his Saiyan arc incarnation from years later, rather than what he is supposed to look like during this story arc? It gets even more confusing during scenes like Goku’s encounter with Tambourine, who refers to a previous fight between the two… which only makes sense if you have read or seen the series ahead of time.

The in-game engine runs at a steady frame rate (although there are occasional, minor issues; keep reading) with a bold and colorful richness. The thick outlines on character models work great in bringing the anime to life, and it is incredibly refreshing to have a modern game with so many vibrant colors splashing around on the levels. It works very well to bring about that feeling of a grand adventure (as the original Japanese title of the game implies).

The levels have more depth to them than they appear at first glance, which helps expand the world quite a bit. While you will typically travel in a left-to-right door hunt most of the time, you will encounter several areas that will fling you into the foreground or background of a stage. At times, you will also have rockets or bombs thrown at you from the background, which you can lock onto and kick or fling back at your opponents. The levels also curve to the front and back of the screen (eventually repositioning into a 2D field of view), also helping add a little depth to the world. The stages are unfortunately, while mostly pretty and fitting for the Dragon World, pretty barren and forgettable. Other than the occasional barrel, minor floods of enemies, and maybe a fire pit every so often, they all begin to look and feel the same. If you want to break it down to the heart of the matter, the only difference between the Red Ribbon Army base and Uranai Baba’s dungeon is the color of the stage and the types of enemies thrown at you.

Speaking of enemies, be prepared to fight the cliché hoards of palette-swap foes. This bear has a sword, this tiger does not. This robot shoots fire, this robot flings ice. This ghost attacks with swords, this ghost tosses bombs. While they all feel perfectly at place in the Dragon World for their respective story sequences, there is simply not enough variety to truly sell it. Only the bosses and their fights serve to mix up the viewing area (such as General Blue with the octopus in the background), but even that is not entirely accurate — the only difference between the Mira-kun and Akkuman fights are the ghosts annoying you overhead.

The audio is standard stereo fare, though the game does get extra points for that inclusion of the original Japanese audio track. Masako Nozawa’s portrayal of Goku (and particularly the young version of the character) is globally iconic, and would be a huge detriment to the game if unavailable. Unfortunately, several of the voice actors for other characters have since passed away. With Hirotaka Suzuoki gone, the role of Tenshinhan was reprised by Mitsuaki Madona, who also played the character in Infinite World. Sadly, his portrayal is simply not up to snuff with Suzuoki’s powerful performance from anime history, and with Hikaru Midorikawa already claiming the role in the currently-running Dragon Ball Kai, it was an odd choice. Similarly, with Kōhei Miyauchi passed on, the role of Kame-Sen’nin for this game was reprised by Hiroshi Masuoka. The voice of Kame-Sen’nin through all of Dragon Ball GT, Masuoka is not our favorite choice for the character. Having gone through so many voice actors since the death of Miyauchi, our preferred choice would have been Masaharu Satō, also the current voice for the character in Dragon Ball Kai. Beyond this, all character performances are wonderful, with even Hiromi Tsuru’s Bulma being incredibly close to her original performance, and much more so than in Dragon Ball Kai. The star of the show, as expected, is Shigeru Chiba as Pilaf (even with as little as he appears in the game). His maniacal screams, fits of laughter, and increasingly panicked tirades show just how versatile he is as an actor, and how lovable Pilaf is as a character.

The English dub was not spot-checked for performance evaluation.

The music to the game is a truly interesting situation. To me, it sounded like an entirely new score. Much to my surprise, while playing the first half of the game for our live stream, several people noted that the game was using the exact same songs from Budokai Tenkaichi 2 and Budokai Tenkaichi 3.

A little bit of back-history is necessary to fully understand this. The series of fighting games developed by Spike for the PS2 (with the second and third games also being released on the Wii) is released in Japan under the title of Sparking!. The in-game background music for these games in Japan is none other than updated versions of the original score to the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z TV series as composed by Shunsuke Kikuchi (with one track from Dragon Ball GT). Unfortunately, the musical scores to these three games were changed when brought over to North America. The first Sparking! game (released as Budokai Tenkaichi) recycled music from the original Budokai series (as composed by Kenji Yamamoto, sometimes in collaboration with Tower of Power). The second game, Sparking! NEO (released as Budokai Tenkaichi 2), had an entirely new musical score composed for it, completely separate from the Japanese release of the game… yet one composed by Japanese producers. The third game, Sparking! METEOR (released as Budokai Tenkaichi 3), continued onward with this score from the previous game, adding several new tunes to the mix; again, this was an entirely new musical score completely separate from the original Japanese releases.

Having played through the Japanese releases of all three Sparking! games, I had absolutely zero familiarity with this “alternate” music beyond knowing it existed. From the sounds of it, much of this “alternate” score was now being recycled for Revenge of King Piccolo… and not just the American version of the game. Multiple confirmations have come in noting that the music in the American release of the game is identical to that in the Japanese release from several months prior.

This means that (at least some of) the music in the game is recycled from a replacement soundtrack to games released two-to-three years earlier.

Despite all this, the music simply fits. The tunes have appropriate moods when used, and all help hone in on that feeling of adventure. The songs associated with the Red Ribbon Army (and have the organization’s name in their title according to the in-game shop) seem to be the most memorable. My only real complaint while playing the game was their repetitive nature; now realizing that they were first intended for fighting games with significantly shorter battle/stage-length times, that makes complete sense.

Gameplay:

The majority of the stages in the game are a mostly-competent mix of 2D platforming (think a mix between Super Mario Bros. with a slight floatiness from LittleBigPlanet) combined with old-school beat-’em-up brawling (think Final Fight and Streets of Rage). Goku has a single jump button, a single melee attack button, a single “action” button, and a super attack (Kamehameha) button. Attacks can be strung together for combo attacks, and if another enemy is hit within a short amount of time, Goku can rack up the hits in a large combo. Certain enemies and items in the game will, for a short period of time, highlight themselves with a bright blue circle. If Goku is within range, pressing the action button will catch the item (for example, a bomb), kick the item back (for example, a missile), or temporarily stun the enemy with a counter or parry attack (most often on bosses). This action button is versatile in that it can also be used to grab onto certain items (a hanging rope or spinning mini-platforms in mid-air), or deliver the final blow to an already-stunned opponent. Combined with standard jumping, this is the entirety of the game play.

Goku’s ki (indicated by a super meter with three segments) builds slowly over time as you attack enemies. You can use the Kamehameha at any time in which you have at least one available meter, though you will find yourself saving it for boss battles to put an end to them quickly.

To be honest, you will use very little of the expanded move set for much of the game. You will not be forced to pick anything up on a regular basis until the second stage’s boss fight with Buyon, and the counter/parry will not be truly necessary until the battle against T’ao Paipai. The first level of the game acts as a tutorial for nearly your entire move set, but focuses on little other than simply stringing together a standard melee combo. The opening stage is also misleading in that it has simple puzzle elements (like draining or flooding a waterway to get to the next area) that simply do not exist anywhere else in the game. You will certainly be doing some platforming for the rest of the game, but the exploration is kept to a minimum and stages consist primarily of battles.

The jumping mechanic is acceptable at best. While Goku’s jumps and landings are more-or-less precise, the actual process of taking off can be frustrating. Some of the jumps in Baba’s dungeons over top fire and falling platforms require exact timing and placement. Unfortunately, Goku does not appear to be able to jump if too close to the edge of a platform, leading to far too many barely-missed landings. Be prepared to watch your health drop a few points as you redo key jumps half a dozen times.

Control mechanics are varied and comfortable. Want to use the Wii Remote and Nunchuck? Go for it. Plug in the Classic Controller for… well, classic control. As noted, you can even use the Gamecube controller if you so choose. There will be short, quasi-Quick-Time-Events during boss battles (or even while stunned from regular enemies) in which you need to either waggle the Wii Remote or twirl the analog stick as fast as possible within a certain time limit. Twirling the analog stick felt halfway unresponsive, with the meter not moving as fast as it felt like the stick was spinning. Rather than spinning it in circles, the fastest response seemed to come from slamming it back and forth.

Goku’s attacks and recovery can be sluggish at times. You are unable to interrupt a combo you have already started in one direction, so if an opponent shows up behind you, there is no chance you will NOT be hit from behind while Goku is too busy slamming on ahead of himself. This also leads to situations where you combo yourself off a ledge. In many cases, the screen will “lock down” and throw a series of enemies at you, but prevent you from leaving the focus of that single screen. In other platforming areas, a single enemy may just be hanging out on a smaller platform. If you continue to combo the enemy toward that edge, Goku will keep plugging on forward with his attacks, walking right off the edge into the pits below. It’s realistic, sure, but a major difference from those “locked down” fighting areas that takes some adjusting to.

Stages consist of a mostly 2D plane in which Goku typically moves from the left-most side to the right-most side (with a little verticality at times). On this field you do have limited movements in 360 degrees, though it is nothing different from the beat-’em-up games of the past (again, think Final Fight, Streets of Rage, or any arcade Konami brawler). As noted before, you will occasionally find yourself flung into the foreground or background via the spinny hooks in the air, which helps mix things up. Littered throughout the first six stages are eight secret treasures to find. They may simply be in a door off to the side of a level, down a path that you otherwise would not take, or hidden away after a hair-raising series of acrobatics up above a firey pit. Most secrets are obvious in retrospect once you have already jumped past them, but some are pretty clever. There was one instance where Goku was running down a slippery hill from a obtaining a previous secret, when he suddenly slammed into a wall and crushed it down almost Looney Toons style. This wall otherwise would have just been in the way, but knocking it down revealed the access point to yet another secret. Sure, it was like getting a two-for-one, but it was a clever way to give it. Unfortunately, these items do nothing other than provide a little fetch-quest for you along the way, in addition to helping unlock characters for battle in the multiplayer game mode; you cannot wear them nor do they give any stat bonuses.

The ending of each level is entirely inconsistent from level to level and stage to stage. You will at times face a mini-boss to complete a level (such as a generic Red Ribbon Army mecha grunt), a named and iconic character as a boss on a level that’s not the final one for the world (such as Murasaki), or you may simply walk through a doorway and the level is over. Sometimes you will not even know the level is over; Goku will simply reach a point, the screen will sweep away as if you are entering a new area, and you will be shocked to see the end-level grading screen pop up.

Boss battles, which are not necessarily at the end of every individual stage, are a mixed bag. Some feel like “Zelda Lite” boss encounters, such as the battle with General Blue and his octopus flinging tentacles and water bubbles at you. Others feel like a stripped-down fighting game with all the handicaps of the simple beat-’em-up that it is, like the Mira-kun and Akkuman fights. As mentioned before, you are unfortunately not always explicitly taught the techniques you need to use in order to win these boss battles. Before the battle with Buyon you are occasionally led to butt-stomp the robots to utilize their special effects (like freezing the surrounding area), but nothing can prepare you for the long, repetitive battle against T’ao Paipai where one round has a “tell” to counter against, and the next is nothing but a long string of minor chipping-away at his health followed by a Hail Mary Kamehameha (or two or three) to defeat him. The final battles with Piccolo-Daimaō can be even worse, and you are mostly forced to coerce him into diving toward you, thus giving you the opportunity to counterattack, thus giving you the opportunity to deal some minor damage. Be prepared for an endless stream of controller twirling (or Wii Remote waggling), running giant circles around the ring, and starting the process all over again.

The boss battles and encounters are simply too inconsistent to be equally memorable. The third level of the third stage is the fun battle against Blue with his octopus, and yet the fourth stage to conclude the “world” does not actually have a final boss fight. Anything without an extra gimmick feels extraneous and repetitive, and yet the gimmicks make the fights far too easy.

Boss battles also become the game, itself, after the Uranai Baba story arc. Once Grandpa Gohan is defeated, there are no longer any stages to play through; you will instead fight a series of opponents, sometimes broken up into multi-part fights, other times divided into different levels. It truly feels like a different game at this point, once you no longer traverse the side-scrolling stages.

The game features an extremely generous save and “Game Over” system. The game is automatically saved upon finding any secret items, and appears to have unlimited continues. Not only can you continue at will, but you will be dropped off exactly where you died… including the remaining health on the enemies surrounding you. While individual levels are short (most never running longer than 10 minutes to breeze through), I will be honest in saying that I have little interest in replaying them. Were I to die and be unable to immediately continue, there is a good chance I would have put the controller down and rarely returned to the game. It’s not overly frustrating of a game (with minor exceptions), and it’s mostly a cheery breeze-through… but there are enough underlying issues that without this generous re-spawn placement, I may not have completed the game.

The only exceptions to this system are the boss battles. Any death during a boss encounter will generally bring you back to the beginning of that specific battle, all health restored to the opponent. This is particularly annoying with multi-stage boss battles such as the one with T’ao Paipai; while you may get down his patterns for an easy defeat of the first stage, the problems plaguing the second stage will have you repeating the monotonous wash-rinse-repeat parrying of the first over and over.

Goku can be powered up by collecting Zeni throughout the game (obtained by defeating enemies or collecting pots hidden in barrels). Health bar extensions become available one-by-one for larger amounts of Zeni as you progress through the game. Absolutely do not forget about these; having played straight through four stages without exiting back to the main menu, I was shocked to learn that I could extend my health bar, which would have made the T’ao Paipai fight that much easier. Other items to purchase include characters models to view in a gallery mode (who are all characters you will battle through the single player mode), voice and movie samples, and other little gaming trinkets.

The game has its fair share of glitches. Goku will occasionally get stuck on the geometry of a level and stutter a bit before running forward. This happened on top of what appear to be air vents in the floor of the Red Ribbon Army headquarters, as well as up against a wall. At one point after dying Goku was re-spawned in mid-air next to a crumbled tower. Another re-spawn after being crushed by a rolling boulder (a la Indiana Jones) left Goku on a downward platform with no boulder chasing him.

While not technically a glitch, you will often find yourself losing focus of where Goku is on the stage. This is particularly troublesome in the mid- and later-stages where a plethora of enemies will be tossed at you in the “locked down” battle screens. When the robots are twice Goku’s size and there are four of them, it can be difficult to see where he is. Goku’s slow recovery time after being knocked down (and brief inability to move) only adds to the problem.

While the game almost always moves at a fast pace and locked-in frame rate, there is the occasional bout of slowdown. Too many lions robots and tigers and bears will bring the game to a halt, though this is admittedly not that often. Level 5-2 on the other hand was the major offender during the game. For some inexplicable reason, this one level ran at a noticeably lower frame-rate than anything else in the game, which actually affected the control to the point of being temporarily unresponsive at least three times in my playthrough. The level’s background was not significantly different than anything before or after it, the amount of enemies seemed consistent, and no special or extra graphical effects seemed to be at work. By that point in the game you will be familiar enough with the ins-and-outs to work around it, but it really put a damper on the otherwise well-presented stages.

The Extra Stuff:

Revenge of King Piccolo is a pretty bare-bones package. As noted much earlier, the only other game play mode beyond the single-player “Adventure” is the multiplayer “Tournament” mode. A single player can fight a series of computer-controlled opponents, or against a second human player. The fights are controlled exactly as they are in the “Adventure” mode’s Tenka’ichi Budōkai fights — there is a single life bar per character, an extra “block” meter (which can be crushed through if the defensive player does not retaliate enough), and a selectable number of rounds. Otherwise, you are simply playing the regular game within the confines of the Budōkai ring against a single opponent.

The problem with this multiplayer mode is the same problem as the later boss fights in the game: it is using a platformer’s controls to create a faux-fighting game. Think of it as the opposite of the Smash Bros. series where the main game is a (party-styled) fighting game, yet the single player modes use the exact same controls to create a faux-platformer. It introduces itself the same way a traditional fighting game would by sweeping around the character models and allowing them pre-battle banter. This is where the illusion ends, though. Characters, while having a minor amount of distinction between each other (for example, Chiaotzu is fast, Tambourine is slower but jumps further with his wings, etc.), still feel sluggish and ready to hop over a pit rather than battle to the death. I found that simply jumping over the opponent and walking up behind them as they punched into nothing left them wide open to attack, allowing me to complete many rounds without taking a single hit, myself. It was an easy 10,000 Zeni tournament win with countless perfect rounds.

There are enough characters to keep fans of the early adventures satisfied… if you choose to go through the effort of unlocking them. By default, only Goku, Kuririn, Yamcha, Jackie Chun, Tenshinhan, and Chiaotzu are available. Completing the “Adventure” mode unlocks only Tambourine. All other characters require you to obtain all of the secrets within a specific stage in “Adventure” mode, or completing a certain number of levels with an “S” rank (you will graded with either a C, B, A, or S depending on certain factors such as the time it took you to complete the stage, your remaining health, combos, etc.). The prospect of having to replay so many frustrating and monotonous boss battles to receive an “S” rank on every single stage to unlock Arale Norimaki is not a pleasant one. Unlockable characters consist of Murasaki, General Blue, T’ao Paipai, Akkuman, Mira-kun, Grandpa Gohan, Drum, Tambourine, Piccolo-Daimaō (old), Piccolo-Daimaō (young), and Arale.

Collecting Zeni throughout the game provides the funds to purchase a limited amount of game-enhancing items, as well as extras like character models, video sequences, and music. A progressive set of life bar extensions for Goku in “Adventure” mode will probably be your first spending area, and are necessary to complete the later boss battles. Simply progressing through the game as normal should provide you with the exact Zeni you need to purchase the latest-available extension at any given time (which appear to be rationed out to you as you complete each stage).

Every single cut scene is available for purchase and review in the game’s store (including the intro and closing movies), as well as what appears to be every song used in the game. The 3D character models for nearly every character in the game can also be purchased and viewed in a specific mode; here you can twirl the camera around them, and zoom up to a limited degree. They all range in price, with the closing movie being 20,000 Zeni and some character models being only 200-300 Zeni.

Final Thoughts:

What you are getting with Revenge of King Piccolo is a relatively short, very beatable, single player mash-up of a platformer and a brawler. It is absolutely a welcome breath of fresh air to revisit Goku’s earlier adventures after having so much from Z shoved down our throats year after year after year.

It is unfair at times, and it is frustrating at times. There are no difficulty settings, so the best you can do to overcome any problems is purchase some health extensions and keep practicing. The item collecting is irrelevant to anything other than unlocking characters, but provides an extra sense of purpose for going through the stages. The levels are appropriately sized so as to not wear out their welcome, but while they certainly do look different from each other, they all ultimately feel like each other. The platforming levels are forgotten entirely just over halfway through the game in favor of exclusively pitting you against a series of bosses.

Revenge of King Piccolo is not a great game; it has its share of problems. It is absolutely a fun ride while it lasts, though that fun will be repeatedly interrupted by the monotonous boss battles in which you dodge around waiting to counter attack. Completists will find themselves going back to find every secret in every stage in order to unlock the rest of the characters, but since the “Tournament” mode feels like a tacked-on afterthought, it really does not add anything new to the game play experience. It is difficult to see how anyone would have an extended bout of fun playing the “Tournament” mode, either by themselves or with another human player. In other words, once you beat the game, there is really nothing at all to bring you back. That may be OK with you, though — it was for me. Putting 10 hours into a game and reaping nearly every reward it has for me is way more in tune with my life these days; I simply don’t have the time to sink into a game that requires I beat every stage with four different characters for 80 hours of game play. In that respect, Revenge of King Piccolo was just about everything I was hoping it would be: a quick ride through the memories of Goku’s earlier adventures… not too early, though, since it picks up with the Red Ribbon Army. Speaking of which, what’s with the foreign title? Revenge of King Piccolo? You don’t even see Piccolo until the 9th stage… and that’s the last one there is in the game!

The game is absolutely not a $50 game, so it was great to see Namco-Bandai bring it out in North America at a lower price point. While their initial press release states it is coming for a $29.99 MSRP, it is listed at $39.99 nearly everywhere. The $39.99 price point (it retailed in Japan for the standard ¥7140, approximately $75, though it is already about half price on retailers like Amazon Japan) was expected. Is it worth the $40 investment? Depending on the game play experience you are looking for and expecting from the game, that is difficult to answer. At $20 you should not hesitate to pick it up; you will at least get a nice, long weekend out of it. Is it just a rental, then? Perhaps. Dragon Ball fans looking for something other than a fighting game will eat it up, so in that respect it is the right game coming out at the right time; the closest we have had in recent years has been Dragon Ball DS / Origins, which this certainly feels like a sequel to. Were this type of game to come out several years ago alongside Dimps’ incredible Advance Adventure and WebFoot’s respectable Legacy of Goku games (well, the second two, anyway), Revenge of King Piccolo would not have been so novel. Thankfully for them, they timed its release just right.

Revenge of King Piccolo was developed by Media.Vision and published by Namco-Bandai, released in North America on 20 October 2009. MSRP $39.99. Single-player “Adventure” mode was completed in approximately 7.5 hours, with around 10 hours put into the game in total. Dabbled in “Tournament” mode. Completed using a Gamecube controller. 34 of 48 secrets were obtained. 1 of 11 hidden characters were unlocked. Various cut scenes, movies, music tracks, and character models were purchased in the in-game store.

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