Dragonball Advanced Adventure is a GBA title that combines elements of a beat-em-up with those of a platformer. The game is based on the anime/manga created by Akira Toriyama (whose work includes designing the characters that feature in the cult classic Chrono Trigger and the wildly popular RPG series Dragon Quest.) Prospective buyers should be aware that the game is based on the original Dragonball series and not the follow-up Dragonball Z that is more well known on these shores. I was attracted to the title as it looked different from the usual DBZ fare which focuses more on one versus one fighting. Let us see if the departure from street fighter style combat results in anything worthwhile.
The game stars a young Goku, a boy with a monkey tail, who possesses incredible strength and agility. Viewers of the show will know that Goku's superhuman abilities come from the fact that he is a member of an alien race of powerful warriors called Saiyans. He crashed down to Earth and was adopted by a wise old man named Gohan who taught him martial arts. Think Superman with less red underwear and more gravity defying spiky hair. When the game begins Goku leaves his adoptive parent's home to join Bulma, a genius girl, who is on a quest to locate the seven legendary dragonballs.
Whoever has all the dragonballs will have the power to summon a dragon (oddly enough) who can grant you any wish you desire... sort of like a blue skinned Robin Williams minus the annoying voice. The game chronicles most of the Dragonball series which has our heroes search the land for the mythical balls. Along the way Goku will have to contend with the evil Red Ribbon Army (whose leader wants the balls to grow taller), take part in a number of martial art contests and thwart an invasion by a powerful green skinned demon named King Piccolo. If you haven't seen the anime you may be a little lost in this world of Japanese zaniness, but don't worry as brief cut scenes at the start of each level will explain what is going on.
Graphically the game captures the visuals of the show. The colourful character designs match the look of the anime and the fluid animation brings to life the fighting styles of the cast. Detailed backgrounds setup the location of each level which include caves, military bases, fighting arenas and jungles. Sonics are alright if nothing outstanding. The music is decent and the sound effects are what you would expect comprising of smacking noises when you hit someone and whooshes when you perform a high jump. There isn't much in the way of voice acting, but from time to time you'll hear Goku's Japanese victory cry when he downs a boss.
The bulk of the game plays like a platformer. Goku moves from the starting location and heads towards the exit jumping across platforms, avoiding pitfalls and keeping away from traps such as rolling boulders. Most of the levels are fairly linear, with a few hidden areas which conceal power-ups that boost Goku's health and the range of his staff attack. To keep things interesting there are however a couple of maze like levels were you have to navigate through doorways to locate the correct path which leads to your destination. Patrolling the levels are a wide range of bad guys which include Red Ribbon's anamorphic soldiers, exploding robots, pterodactyls who drop bombs on you and demons.
In many platformers you are encouraged to avoid nasties, but not so in Dragonball Advanced. Goku can dispatch his foes with a combo of punches performed by bashing the attack button. By holding the d-pad in different directions you can unleash different moves such as flying kicks, staff tosses and a spinning baton shield that reflects projectiles back at the shooter. Holding down the right shoulder button also allows you to fire a Kamehameha (fireball style move) to hit opponents from range. The combat could potentially get repetitive as pounding one button normally gets the job done, but thanks to the fast paced action I never found the gameplay getting stale.
During the martial art tournament knockout rounds and certain boss fights the action switches from a platform/fighter hybrid to a more traditional 1v1 beat-em-up akin to something like Mortal Kombat. To triumph in these duels you have to reduce your opponent's health to zero before he does the same to you. Hitting your opponent enough times breaks his guard meter which will allow you to harm him and inflict some flashy aerial combos. To prevent spamming of Kamehamehas the projectile move is powered by a chi bar at the bottom of the screen. Firing a blast depletes the bar, but fear not as you can replenish it by landing hits on your adversary.
I have to say that Dragonball Advanced Adventure is one of the most fun if not the most fun Dragonball video game I have ever played. It's a shame that the story mode can be finished in around two hours, but thankfully there is some extra content to keep you occupied once the end credits roll. For a start you can replay the game as Goku's rival turned friend Krillin. The hairless Krillin doesn't come equipped with a staff, but he is far better at jumping which makes controlling him feel different to the title's Saiyan lead. By playing the extra mode, which allows you to revisit completed levels, you can also find other characters hidden in areas which are not accessible the first time you play through the story.
Completing the story mode also allows you to play mini games which include a side scroller were Goku flies atop a nimbus cloud and a training segment were you have to break rocks which fall down from the sky. Of the unlockables on offer I suspect that fighting game fans will flock to the tournament mode that allows you battle in the martial art contest as Goku or one of the other fighters you faced in the main game. The package on offer should encourage you to plop the cartridge into your handheld for multiple playthroughs which compensates for the story's length. Overall you get a varied selection of game types for your money which stands out from other Dragonball games that feel like shallow cash ins. Whether you are a fan of the show or not the game is a platform fans' wish (no summoned dragon required) come true.
For a 2D sidescroller, Dragon Ball Advanced Adventure is extremely fun, addictive and impressive. Most of the time, games about this series tend to follow the DBZ storyline so its refreshing to get to play in a different time period.
Keeping with the major events of the story from the anime series, you play as young Goku and embark on a quest to collect the Dragon Balls with Bulma but encounter various evil entities along the way such as Emperor Pilaf, The Red Ribbon Army, Mercenary Tao and King Piccolo and must stop them with your superhuman strength and abilities. Along the way you're also training with Master Roshi & entering World Martial Arts Tournaments.
Its a fighting game at heart, offering a 2 player versus mode even if you've got 2 cartridges, 2 GBAs and a link cable. For a handheld game, this definitely provides you with a diverse amount of combos and techniques despite the Gameboy Advanced system having so few controls. Its very easy to learn the controls and you've got tons of fighting techniques at your disposal - from the Power Pole, Kame Hame Ha, fading and so on just like in the anime series.
Although you originally can only play as Goku, you're able to unlock a slew of new characters and features. After your first playthrough of the game which takes a few hours, you unlock a mode where you play through the game as Krillin as well as a couple of mini-games. As you play through the game and battle certain characters, you unlock them for free play - characters like Tien, King Piccolo, Grandpa Gohan Tao, Jakie Chun, Nam and Chiaotzu. Doesn't end there. Further playthroughs and collecting the 54 hidden items in the game enables you to unlock a mode where you can choose to play as various bosses in the game!
Overall this is a very satisfying game and I implore any Dragon Ball fan with a GBA or DS to play it! Atari should really consider having Banpresto help them out a lot more often with these games because this one came out pretty good! With 3 game save files you can try your hand at a more difficult setting or allow siblings to also play off the same cartridge. Its the type of game that'll have you come back and replay it from time to time because its really fun.
"Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure" is a video game released for the Gameboy Advance console in 2005 by Bandai. It is based on the popular "Dragon Ball" animated series. In the United States, the game received a rating of "E" by the ESRB panel which deemed it suitable for all ages.
Players of this title control one of the main characters named "Goku" and play through the events in his early childhood which led to his maturity and development as a fighter. From his meetings with Master Roshi to the aftermath of his encounter with King Piccolo, the player will be on a quest to recover the seven "dragon balls" which unlock his physical prowess. Gameplay itself is a standard side scrolling platform title which features numerous monsters and hazards to be avoided. Goku initially has access to basic punches and kicks but becomes more dominant through special spirit attacks as he progresses further and recovers the hidden dragon balls. The levels are somewhat generic but do feature a wide array of hidden doors, monsters and traps which all provide a sense of depth to the play. It is an easy game to complete but can prove itself to be difficult in boss encounters which test Goku's development thoroughly.
The graphics are presented from a side perspective which focuses on the player's character. There is a clear element of animated appeal which is true to Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball creator, and his original work. Each character is coloured appropriately and feature their typical attire as seen in the animated series. The background scenes are particularly noteworthy, especially in scenes where Goku is hovering in the clouds as these are well rendered and flow very smoothly. The soundtrack is also good and takes from the television series' theme tunes. The audio also features digital voice snippets from the characters to further enhance what is heard.
Overall, I would recommend Advanced Adventure to prospective buyers. It would likely see more success with fans of the Dragon Ball series but could prove itself to be a good play due to its alluring visuals and early placement in the series' storyline.