Today's post comes from user Krejlooc, describing a unique gem of a game that many people likely never knew existed, much less got the chance to play.
That game is Dragon Ball Z: Idainaru Son Goku Densetsu (ドラゴンボールZ 偉大なる孫悟空伝説, Doragon Bōru Zetto Idainaru Son Gokū Densetsu; lit. "Dragon Ball Z: The Greatest Son Goku Legend"), which was released for the PC Engine in Japan on November 11, 1994.
"It's a pretty awesome game, presentation-wise. It tells the entire story of Dragon Ball, from the fight against Tao Pai Pai until Gohan defeats Cell. There are seven opponents in the game, with nine total battles taking place. You fight:
Tao Pai Pai
Tenshinhan (at the 23rd tournament)
Perfect Cell (twice)
You play as Goku at various ages, with various abilities, except for the final battle, where you play as Gohan. The game is framed such that Gohan is telling Goten about Goku before the 25th Tournament in the Buu Saga to get him excited about his dad coming back.
Once you actually get to fight, it's really unlike any other game out there.
Each fight begins in what I call grapple mode. In this mode, both players have one large life bar that is played tug of war style. In addition, each player has a lifebar of several small yellow bars that represent their HP. You don't actually have real direct control of your actions during this mode. Pressing the I button causes your player to constantly attack and advance on the enemy. Similarly, no matter which direction you are facing, pressing right advances you to the enemey. Pressing left, regardless of facing direction, retreats you from the enemy. Pressing the II button will let you shoot small ki blast at the enemy.
As this happens, your player and enemy will hop all around the screen, exchanging blows rapid fire like in certain scenes in Dragon Ball Z. Both the player and the enemy have a ki gauge, which goes down whenever they perform any sort of attack. To charge the ki back up, you press I + II.
Additionally, you have four different types of stances you can take. Pressing up and down changes your stance, indicated by color. The black stance is the blocking stance - under this stance, one of the buttons makes you block (which means you don't lose any life on the tug of war bar) no matter how the enemy attacks you. While in blocking mode, however, you can't attack back.
The green stance is the charging stance - under this stance, your ki gauge will charge twice as fast, and attacking your opponent when he attacks you will prevent you from losing ground to him in the tug of war lifebar, but you won't actually score hits on him to advance your tug of war bar, either. If you manage to charge your ki in this mode for a really, really, REEEEEALLLY long time, you can actually recover HP, one unit at a time.
The red stance is the attack stance. In this stance, you do the moderate damage when you attack, and burn minimal amounts of ki. You also take decent amounts of damage should you get hit in this stance, and if you charge your ki, you charge at a moderate pace.
The blue stance is the ki stance, and this makes you fire big ki balls that due huge amounts of damage to the tug of war lifebar, but drains your ki very fast and provides poor defense and poor ki charging.
It isn't enough to merely win the tug of war battle while completely draining your ki gauge, however, because once the tug of war battle is won, you move on to the next phase.
This is the attack choice portion of the battle. depending on who won the tug of war battle, one player will be on defense and one will be on offense. Each is given a few seconds to choose an action. You choose your action by navigating two small menus - one changes your stance (which are the same as mentioned before) and one changes your technique. In addition, any ki you had remaining from tug of war battle is available to be wagered, and the amount of ki you wager determines both the kind of action you perform and it's change of success against the opponent.
Once the time is up, the game enters the third portion of the battle, where the actual HP-depleting takes place.
This portion plays out as complex sprite-animated sequences where you have no control. Depending on what stances you chose and ki you wagered, these sprite animations will play out differently.
For example, if you are attacking and choose the ki stance, then use the 3rd technique, and wager at least 75% of a full ki bar, you will perform a Kamehameha against the opponent. There are tons and tons of types of moves to discover this way, and the amount of moves you have grows with each fight in the game.
Damage done in this portion takes away from the player's actual HP.
After key moments in these sprite battle scenes, depending on conditions, animated PC Engine cutscenes will play out advancing the plot of each fight.
This allows for transformations and things of that sort mid-battle.
Each fight is very long because of this layout, so the game has a hefty adventure mode with a save feature. Each mode has completely different graphics, and there is well over twenty minutes worth of cutscenes in the game.
The game Dragon Ball Z: The Legend is a rough sequel to this game, but it isn't nearly as good. Playing them back to back, Legends feels way more thrown together than this.
The PC Engine, as it was known in Japan and France, was released in America as the TurboGrafx-16 Entertainment SuperSystem. It never really received the same traction it did in Japan, and many games that were exclusive to the system remained unlocalized or simply unnoticed by the majority of Americans at the time.
Great write-up, Krejlooc, and thanks for letting us know about the game!