From a Gamer’s Basement 09.29.04

I promised you the worst game I ever played, and here it is in all its glory. Ok well maybe not glory. This is actually the review I submitted to get hired back in May, and it does hold a soft spot in my heart. Not the game, but the review. The game just fills me with a rage that I can not describe. Even as I type this I find myself having flashbacksâ┚¬Â¦very disturbing. So kids, enjoy this little revelation as Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu goes under the Inside Pulse microscope, and marvel as I let the venom flow. I even left my intro intact. Next week I promise something a bit newer, and it will involve more Nintendo and more marketing plans. I’ll be back next week with another edition of From a Gamer’s Basement.

Ok, I have a confession to make: Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m a Dragon Ball Z addict. There I said it. Despite everything I try to tell myself there is simply something about mindless fights with huge explosions that attracts me like few anime shows can despite my evolution in the anime I watch now. In my apartment one entire video rack is dedicated to DBZ, the entire series sitting there constantly reminding me of my weakness for those big haired characters and their flashy ways. Constantly reminding me of how much money I have spent on this show. Naturally, being as big of a DBZ fan as I am, video game versions of anything DBZ were something I would be naturally interested in. Now as any diehard DBZ fan can tell you, for some reason DBZ just does not translate well into video games. Crap worthy games that we here in the states have been treated to thus far have included the Legacy of Goku series and the Budokai series on other platforms to name the most well known. The weird part is that I know these games are crap. I can impartially play them and be disgusted at how bad they really are…But I never learn my lesson when it comes to DBZ. So in late 2003 when they released a little â┚¬Å”gemâ┚¬Â called Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu, what did I do? I went out and bought it right away, telling myself that THIS time things would be different! The DBZ franchise would be given to me in all its goodness, and this time on my favorite piece of hardware: the Gameboy Advance.

Needless to say this story does not end well…So letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s get to all the â┚¬Å”funâ┚¬Â that was had with this latest DBZ fighter.

1. Story

A great fighter, like a Soul Caliber or hell even a sub-par Mortal Kombat, still has a storyline with each character having his or her own unique past and rivalries. You would think with the massive series of DBZ available for the developers to draw upon they would have an infinite amount of back story to use to develop at least some interesting character plots and bios. But what you have here is just your basic fighter. Go through a certain number of rounds, beat the game, get some points you can spend on unlocking some music and other goodies…and then you can do it all over again. As a fan of the series itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s disappointing, and as a fan of fighters it just pisses me off. This to me is just laziness…laziness in the form of a cash cow called DBZ that sucks the money out of the faithful who hold out hope for a fighting game that lives up to the series. Now, whether youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re a DBZ fan or not, it can not be denied that a franchise like DBZ has the potential to produce some high caliber games that would cater to fans of the series. Yet here we donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t even get sub-par. We get the equivalent of the developers crapping in a box, handing it to us, and telling us to enjoy the latest DBZ game that they have produced. This is depressing as a fan first, and a gamer second.

To be fair, I asked for this. I bought the game. I was a willing sheep of anything DBZ…But still, it feels like a slap in the face from Funimation (the people who license and dub the anime) and from Atari who developed this game. However, letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s look at the broad picture. This game is a fighter…and a fighter can still be good without goodies like a story for each character embedded within the game. If the controls are good, and the gameplay above average you can still enjoy a fighter for hours on end. However, as we continue onward we will bear witness to a severe failure on all fronts from DBZ: Taiketsu.

Story Rating: 1/10

2. Graphics

The Gameboy Advance and SP models are really marvelous wonders as anyone who owns one can tell you. Some of the games on the GBA (ie: the Golden Sun series, Demi Kids, etc.) display such high quality artwork and graphics that you come to expect a certain quality from a piece of hardware that is obviously capable of a lot graphically. Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu; however, gives us graphics that are horrendous. The fighters themselves are poorly articulated, their features fuzzy at times, and do not accurately reflect the power of the GBA. When I see Vegeta or Goku go Super Saiyan for a brief moment it is no big deal because all they do is glow for a second or two, their hair changing color, and then poof, back to nothing. For a GBA game these graphics are average at best, which may be enough for some, but to me itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s unacceptable. The GBA is not an average system, it is a great system. To not use its power to its maximum makes no sense at all, and insults a gamer who expects quality work on a system that can handle it.

But not all is bad here. The backgrounds, at least, are decent to look at. Places from the show like Kamiâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s lookout, and Master Roshiâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s island, are well done and give you at least something well designed to fight upon. However, despite a decent selection of stages, I wonder why there are not more? They could have given a variety in stages to this game that would have fit the series. Still, that is a small flaw, as the backgrounds donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t drive me to insane urges to maim and kill like the rest of the game tends to do to me.

Over all, in terms of graphics, Taiketsu is a severe disappointment that makes you want to find the people at Atari and slap them around until they bleed.

Graphics Rating: 3/10

3. Sound

I really hope you guys have some good CDâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s at your disposal, because this game, should you actually play it for any length of time, will have you putting them in to stop the assault on your ears. The battle music is boring and repetitive, and it does nothing to get you into the game. It doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t psyche you up, and make you want to take your opponent, whether computer or human, and beat them senseless. All it does is annoy you and distract you from the actual experience of playing the game. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s not the WORST music in a game ever, not by a long shot. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s simply bland and in a game full of mediocrity it fits right in with the trend.

The sound effects are just as bland. Nothing to write home about at all. Kicks, punches, and the corresponding yells and assorted sounds of the like are what you get in this game. Overall, the sound in DBZ Taiketsu feels and sounds rushed. It could have been better with ease if some real time had been put into it, or even if some of the better battle music from the series has been used. But what we get is just an assorted array of music that makes you go â┚¬Ëœughâ┚¬â”žÂ¢.

Sound Rating: 3/10

4. Controls

The control scheme on a GBA is simple: A and B buttons, L and R buttons, start, select, and your d-pad. Simple, right? So in a fighter you would think this simplicity would lead to an enjoyable gaming experience that would allow you to pull off all the moves, etc. with little trouble. How naÃÆ’¯ve I was to think that. The thing with DBZ: Taiketsu is that somehow it managed to take that simple formula and bastardize it. You want to do a move, and you give it a try. You think to yourself, â┚¬Å”Self, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s okâ┚¬Â¦you probably just messed up.â┚¬Â 10 tries later you are ready to rip the cartridge out and sink it in the deepest marsh you could possibly find. The only way the special moves of characters work is if you slow it down to such a crawl that it takes all the fun (and I use the word so very loosely) out of playing and reduces this game to button mashingâ┚¬Â¦very slow button mashing. The game feels clunky and slow as if everything is just a shade behind the speed it should be running. How Atari screwed the control scheme up on a fighter on the GBA is beyond me. But they did and it is just one more reason as to why this game could be perhaps the worst handheld fighter in a long, long time.

Controls Rating: 2/10

5. Replayability

The only good point of this game is here if you are a person who is a glutton for punishment. With 15 playable characters and things like music and pictures to unlock to earning points by defeating the game you can play it again and again. Like a lot of GBA games you can also hook it up and face your friends. So, yeah, the replay â┚¬Å”valueâ┚¬Â of this game is there. The problem is the game is so bad that no one in their right mind would put themselves through that many plays of the game. This game could be used as a type of gamer torture. Gaming addicts could be weaned off of gaming by being forced to play this game. You may think I am being a bit harsh. Truly I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t think I could ever translate how bad this game really is. And consider thisâ┚¬Â¦I LIKE Dragon Ball Z and I abhor this game.

Replayability Rating: 6/10

6. Balance

No one character has any advantage over another character. So if youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re playing your friends you need not worry about â┚¬Å”brokenâ┚¬Â characters or any of that nonsense. In terms of the one player mode, you can get through the game fairly quickly with button mashing. Kick, punch, kick, punch and next thing you know you won. Forget about special moves, because as I already said you will get frustrated and very quickly. Even when you pull one off you scream, â┚¬Å”Thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s what Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve been doing the whole damn time!â┚¬Â and then the game will promptly laugh at you and continue to not let you pull them off. But if youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re worried about difficultly, then fret not. Youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll breeze through the game with the proper amount of patience and youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll mash your way to the end.

Balance Rating: 5/10

7. Originality

Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a fighter. There are other, and better, fighters out there for the GBA, and all this game does is add another name to the fighter list. The unlockable features are there of course, and the two player connective play is there as well. But at the end of the day itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s just a crappy fighter with the Dragon Ball Z name attached to it. It certainly isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t revolutionizing anything any time soon. If youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re looking for fresh gaming and originality then look somewhere else because weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re all out of that here at DBZ: Taiketsu land.

Originality Rating: 2/10

8. Appeal

Appeal? Appeal? The word does not exist when it comes to this game. This game is as appealing as a Coca-Cola enema would be. Seriously, I can not stress how unappealing this game is. Words have not been invented to accurately gauge the horribleness that this game delivers to us in one DBZ ridden package. This game only cost me twenty dollarsâ┚¬Â¦but that is twenty dollars to much. Save your money. I could have flushed my twenty dollars down a toilet and still gotten the same value that I did by playing this game. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a waste of time, money, and effort. Do yourself a favor and stay as far away as possible, especially if youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re a DBZ fan like me and feel that fanatical lure.

Appeal Rating: 1/10

9. Addictiveness

If you are addicted to this game you need to stop what youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re doing and contemplate where your life is at. This game makes you never want to pick it up again once you turn it off. My review has been scathing, and yet I still donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t think Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve properly conveyed how anti-fun this game is. There are other games out there that are more worth your time and will get you addicted to them. Go out and pick them up and leave this one sitting on the shelves, because that is where it is meant to be.

Addictiveness Rating: 1/10

10. Miscellaneous

Like Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve already said this game has little in terms of redemption. What gets me is that is could have been much, much better. Even with a half assed effort DBZ: Taiketsu could have been a decent fighter to add to your collection. Instead it delivers on nothing, and only adds to the disappointment the DBZ Franchise has produced in terms of video games. This game will make even the most diehard of DBZ fans shake their heads and wonder how crap like this made it out of the developerâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s hands and into stores.

Miscellaneous Rating: 3/10

This game should have a warning label on it. It is hazardous to any gamerâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s health, and should be avoided like the plague at all costs. Atari disappoints here in every sense of the word, providing the worst gaming experience I have ever had on my GBA to date. Overall the whole DBZ franchise has been mediocre at best in terms of itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s translation into video games. All DBZ fans can hope for is a competent game in the near future. There are more DBZ games in production, so hopefully the trend that Taiketsu continues will end. But if history teaches us anything, then we all know better. Its clichÃÆ’©, but those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s apparent to me that developers who have tackled the DBZ franchise in the past have learned nothing. In the end DBZ: Taiketsu is one of the worst games on the GBA, and it would not be a stretch to give it serious consideration for the worst fighter of all time, if not at least in the last 5-10 years.

Final Score: 2.0