Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku 2, or LoG2, is a top-down Action RPG for the Game Boy Advance based off of the Dragon Ball Z property and was released in 2003. The game closely follows the show and is set during the events immediately following the prior game. The game starts by using the events of the History of Trunks movie to provide a brief tutorial, which was honestly a brilliant idea. I think that it could’ve been more long lived just because of the fact that this movie is one of the better movies in the series and that fleshing out the events of this movie would’ve worked to better set up the motivations of one of the primary characters in the game; however, it served its purpose as a tutorial quite well and was better than not including anything from this movie.
After this the game starts at the tail end of the intervening year between the end of the previous game (Death of Namek and Frieza) and follows through the events leading up to Trunks, the Androids, and the rise and eventual fall of Cell. This game did a much better job of following the events of the anime by giving you control of 5 different characters, ensuring that you were always in the middle of the action. Because of this the plot was much more coherent than the previous game and the gameplay scenarios were more varied. However, it still lacks some of the character building necessary to actually make you invested in these characters without requiring that you have prior experience with DBZ.
This game really shines in all of its improvements over the previous game, which you can check out here. The combat went from being a slog of sheepishly chunking ki blasts to being an empowering flurry of melee with a nice cocktail of assorted ki blasts and other various energy attacks rounding out the experience. The game largely works the same– you punch with A and use your currently selected energy attack with B, but the devil– or saviour in this case– is in the details. You can now dash by pressing twice in a direction, allowing you to navigate the world much faster while also letting you ambush and escape enemies. Moreover, each character has their own unique energy attacks and charged melee attacks, adding variety to the game.
The game’s core gameplay loop is derived from tried and true conventions, but is solid nonetheless. When you defeat a foe, they reward you with a dose of experience points and have a chance of dropping a health or energy item of various sizes. The game is balanced well such that you are going to use energy and are going to get hit, but that you are also going to get these drops. There were honestly some very intense moments in the game where I was reliant upon pelting enemies from afar to get health back, only to run out of energy and ultimately get forced into taking enemies on in melee combat. One scenario I remember quite well was when I was exploring a canyon region. I got beat up pretty bad, used all my energy and was very low on HP. Oh, and I was battling enemies that exploded when you killed them. All I could do is carefully battle these foes until they dropped enough items for me to restore myself or fight enough to level up, which restores all your HP and Energy.
Outside of responsive, yet simple fighting mechanics, the game has relatively fun environments to explore, solid music (especially in East District 439, near Goku’s house), and some fun collectathon oriented side quests. The variety of enemies on display here are nothing to write home about– and there is definitely a fair share of re-skins native to RPG’s– but there is enough differentiation between enemies to prevent you from feeling like you are fighting the same enemy the entire game.
There are some small gripes to be had with this game. For instance, whereas the previous game oddly focused solely on Goku, this game choose to oddly focus on everyone except for him. In fact, you only control him for a very brief timeframe during an odd grind infused dragon ball collection at the tail end of the game. There are also some annoying level layout issues, with save points not always being close to flying points, which are how you enter/exit the world map.
During one section of the game you are chasing down a particular character and encounter him several times over a few minutes. However, if you are not careful you can enter these fights without warning, losing precious progression because of a lack of warning concerning the ensuing boss fight. In this same area there are also some odd challenges. One requires you to take 3 dinosaur eggs from the top of the mountain, to the bottom without getting hit. The journey is short, but annoying. Doing it once would have sufficed since the enemy layout is the exact same each time, but instead the game forces you to do it 3 times. Likewise, there is an esoteric word puzzle where you must unlock a door by turning on particular power switches and the only way to know what switches to turn on is by carefully reading the lyrics of the song as recanted by villagers. To make matters worse, all 3 of these things are not particularly close to one another in proximity, meaning it is hard to know exactly what the relevance to one another is here. There are also a couple different textures which don’t match up well, particularly one rock face texture which is used often throughout the game, especially early on.
I personally feel that this game holds up outside of the context of DBZ, outside of the growth that it had from its predecessor, and, in many senses, past its GBA roots; although, it definitely shows its age. At a certain point a GBA game is a GBA game, and there is no escaping that; it will show and it is evident. I think that had this game even been on the DS that some extra control inputs would have helped it age slightly more gracefully. That being said, I don’t think that a game is only fun in its original context– it is not like the game was technologically groundbreaking in its heyday, that has never been where it’s fun was derived. The fun comes from running around (yes, it is fun to merely run in this game, which is always a victory), leveling up, beating the snot out of enemies, exploring the world, and progressing through the story– like most RPG’s. In that sense, I feel like this game is a successful example of the ARPG and is a marvelous use of the technology available on the GBA. I give Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku 2 an “OVER 9,000!!!” out of 10,000.