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CONSOLE: Game Boy Advance DEVELOPER: Webfoot Technologies PUBLISHER: Atari
RELEASE DATE (NA): November 24, 2003 GENRE: Fighting
// review by FlagrantWeeaboo

Dragon, drag-on...

In the rest of the world, Dragon Ball Z aired many, many years after its initial Japanese showing. So while Japan had its glut of Dragon Ball Z video games in the nineties, the rest of us got our glut of Dragon Ball video games in the noughties when Atari owned the rights to games in the U.S. Some of these games are notoriously quite bad, and Taiketsu is no exception to this unfortunate rule. It was developed by Webfoot, which should really have been a sign.

Webfoot, who had been around since the early Windows scene, had developed some fairly decent shareware, making their way up the ranks Apogee-style with a mail-order business proving successful enough to keep them relevant well over half a decade after I had discovered them... but the glory days were long over. They become a shovelware tycoon. Whatever pays the bills.

Taiketsu is full of "little things I don't like" that were probably touted as cool things at the Webfoot conference table. The lead graphics designer stood up one day with a mouthful of doughnuts and coffee, spurting out crumbs. "Why don't we 3D model the DBZ characters and make them look like grotesque ragdolls, then use pre-rendered snapshots of those awful models for the in-game sprites?" Cue ravenous applause from his peers.

Instead of taking a page from every Dragon Ball Z game ever, it was decided that pre-rendered snapshots of ugly character models were the way to go. Had this team played a single one of the Japanese games? They should have. They should have done their damn research. High quality sprite-art is in this year, and every year. Just look at Extreme Butoden on Nintendo 3DS. Great sprite-art is timeless.

What does the scouter say about its power level? Negligible, really.

"How about controls that suck?" Excellent suggestion, roaring crowd of colleagues belch fire from their eyes and unicorns defecate from the heavens. "A battle system that is designed to be counter intuitive!" The walls shake with vigorous adulation, the floor cracks open, and The Ghost Of Christmas Past from A Muppet Christmas Carol vomits bees into everybody's wine glasses. It took me what felt like hours to figure out how to do special moves, but I must admit, I didn't have much trouble pulling them off after I figured out what I was doing wrong.

The sound has this most genius addition. When you win a battle, the sound of CRUNCHING POTATO CHIPS can be heard as the score tallies. How wonderfully fitting; I'm so glad they included that. That's just a bored sound designer seeing what he can get away with.

This game takes grinding and grinding and grinding to get anywhere. Without a story mode to fill the time and space, the battles are simply a one-after-another affair with no rhyme or reason. There's multiplayer, but if you're one of the upsettingly large number of people who bought this game, you don't have any friends. At least not anymore.

I didn't know where in the review to drop this comment, so I'm sneaking it in here. The sound when you select an option is identical to the guitar in "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney.

After beating the main single player mode, you're supposed to unlock a character each time. But on several occasions, the game spazzed out and decided not to offer me a brand new character even though I had fulfilled the criteria to unlock one. So what takes ages was made all the more painful and excruciatingly tiring because the game doesn't even know how to pair its socks.

Taiketsu could do with a dozen more hours in quality assurance. The team should have spent more time developing the game and less time chasing shorties.

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