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Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu

Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Atari
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Singlecard); 1 - 4 (Multicard)
Genre: Card Games/ RPG/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu is an interesting twist and unique way to play through the DBZ series. But those unique aspects come in the Gameplay section, first... Graphics and Sound.

All of the characters from the show that appear in this game come off nicely in their shrunken, almost chibi, sprite-based forms. Map locations also hark back to their TV-series counterpart. It was especially nice to see locations that are rarely found in the games like HFIL or Snake Way.

Like most DBZ games, Harukanaru Densetsu uses the show's theme music and authentic vocals for the sound-clips that occur throughout the game. I couldn't really tell if the vocals in this game are originals or just sound clips from the series (and movies), but it doesn't really matter anyway.


Okay, now for what makes Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu so different. When you play a DBZ game, you typically, if not always, find yourself dealing with a Fighter, or at least an Action/RPG. Instead, Harukanaru Densetsu is more of a CCG game that has you traveling across maps to run through the various story arcs of the series and movies.

So how does this map-based CCG game work exactly? The main goal of any map is to reach some key location and fight whoever the baddie is at the end of that level. You move around the board by selecting one of the cards in your hand. You move the number of spaces denoted in the Dragon Ball on the card (i.e. the Four-Star Ball moves you four spaces). Once you've finished your movement, you will be attacked (most of the time) by one of that location's enemies (dinosaurs, saibamen, etc.). If the defense number on the card you used to move is greater than the random enemy's attack number (Dragon Ball image), then you won't have to fight, but if not, then you enter into a match.

As far as CCG matches are concerned, they are pretty standard. You have cards that you play and compare their attack value to the attack value of your opponent's card. If you win, then the action on the card is carried out. These actions can be attack, counter-attack, power up, defense up, use an item, use a friend, and run away. These are pretty straightforward when you start playing the game. Attack actually deals damage to your enemy, and power up increases the attack value of all of the cards left in your hands. Defense up increases your hand's defense value. The counter card will swap your attack value with your opponents' and whoever has the highest battle (after the swap) attacks.

This game's CCG model is very simple: there isn't any summoning, tapping or complex math, just compare the values and perform the action. A match is over when one of the two characters has had all of their HP drained. This isn't a bad thing in my opinion. The simplified model makes the game more accessible to fans of the show who aren't necessarily familiar with this style, and the other half of the game, the map-traversing aspect, makes the overall feel of Harukanaru Densetsu easier to handle.

Like I said, not only do you get to face off against the baddies from the series like Cell, Buu and Frieza, but you also get to partake of events from the movies like Bardock, Cooler and Broly. For the most part, all of the events from the shows (again both TV series and films) play out pretty much the same way. There are only a few differences designed to help you level up and/or extend the gameplay some. But other than that, the plots and events are ported over well.


Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu lets you make steady progress without too much difficulty. If you can plan at least a couple of moves ahead while in the middle of a match, that should be more than enough to get you past whoever you are facing off against (if not the first time, then the second time definitely).

If you find that you aren't exactly doing that well against a particular boss, then you can always try and level up your character. Doing this increases the various skills you will use in the battles themselves. But for the most part, if you don't run from many fights and work your way through the levels in a organized manner, you will be ready for any fight that you are faced with.

Game Mechanics:

Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu's most interesting mechanics are the way you play through the card game and the strategies that you need to consider.

Consider the cards with the "counter" action. These are the cards that swap you and your opponent's attack values before comparing them. If you want to win the round with a counter card, you need to make sure the attack value on that card is low, because if the opponent has a lower value than yours, the two cards will switch and your opponent will be the one dealing out the damage. Another aspect is when you have an attack card (fairly rare in the grand scheme of things), you want to make sure you will win that round and land your hit, so you will want to play a couple of power ups before actually playing the attack card.

Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu takes the DBZ series in a new direction that is far from bad. The standard CCG (as in the non-computer based version) has grown in popularity since its release and while this game doesn't accurately portray the complexity of that game, it is still a fun play.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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