Dragon Ball Advanced Adventure «

Here’s a game that’s been a long time coming. Dragon Ball Advanced Adventure originally came out in Japan back in 2004, and about a year ago, it was released in Europe. Why Atari waited so long to bring it out in the States is beyond me, but it’s about frickin’ time. This 2D platformer lets you relive Goku’s earliest adventures as he sets out on his first quest to retrieve the seven magical Dragon Balls.

If your knowledge of Dragon Ball begins with Goku and Piccolo’s confrontation with Raditz, the game’s story might confuse you at first. This game isn’t based on Dragon Ball Z, but Z’s noticeably-less-popular-in-the-U.S. predecessor, Dragon Ball. Here, Goku is still a naive youngster, we don’t know that he’s an alien, and there’s not all the “This is the most powerful enemy I’ve ever faced — his power level is off the charts!” jazz that you see in DBZ. Dragon Ball is a far more light-hearted and humorous series, and this game, a colorful side-scroller, reflects that.

As the game begins, Goku meets Bulma for the first time and learns the secret of the Dragon Balls. From there, he sets out to help her to collect them all by fighting past hordes of creatures, including wild animals and heavily-armed pig men. Along the way, he encounters new friends like Yamcha, Krillin, and Tien Shinhan. Of course, this being Dragon Ball, you typically have to challenge these newcomers before you get all buddy-buddy with ’em.

A Little Dimps’ll Do Ya

You’d be forgiven for not expecting a whole lot from Advanced Adventure‘s gameplay. After all, anime-based games have a nasty tendency to not be very good, and the GBA is a haven for terrible licensed games. DBAA, however, is the exception rather than the rule. You’ll understand why this is when you realize that it was developed by Dimps, the creators of the rather solid Sonic Advance games and One Piece for GBA. The company is also behind the pretty-darn-good Dragon Ball Z: Budokai titles. Given Dimps’ experience with portable platformers and Dragon Ball games, it’s not much of a surprise to find out that Advanced Adventure is good.

The stages are relatively straightforward, but there are a few different paths that you can occasionally break off and explore. Doing so will reward you with power-ups and hidden items. Despite the lack of buttons on the GBA, the game packs in a pretty decent amount of moves. Punching combos, various flying kicks, and attacks with Goku’s magic Power Pole (including a spinning shield that reflects bullets) are easily pulled off with just the two face buttons and the d-pad. As you progress through the game, you learn a couple of new moves that are assigned to the shoulder buttons: a more powerful staff attack and Goku’s powerful Kamehameha blast.


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