Few television shows lend themselves to the video game format better than Dragon Ball Z. With its large cast of characters and non-stop conflict, this long-running anime is the perfect fit for action and fighting games. But just because Goku, Vegeta, Trunks and the rest of the gang are perfect for beat-em-ups, that doesn't mean that they're going to fit into every video game genre. I can do without a Dragon Ball Z Sudoku spin-off, or a cart racing game, or even a rhythm game. And now that I've played Atari's newest Nintendo DS effort, Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu, I can safely say that I can do without a card fighting adventure game.
This is Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu, a card fighting game with an insanely difficult name to pronounce. But forget the subtitle, all you need to know about this game is that it takes all of the fun and excitement of a Dragon Ball Z episode and slows it down to the pace of a card game. While the idea of a card battling Dragon Ball Z game isn't so bad that it couldn't be done well, this effort is so simplistic and repetitive that it makes you wonder why developer Bec even bothered.
The problem most card games have is that they are extremely complex and convoluted. A game like Magic: The Gathering can't be explained just a few short sentences, you really have to sit down with it and learn the finer points that make the game worth playing. Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu takes a decidedly different approach; this is perhaps the easiest card battling game you will ever play. Instead of having to learn what each card does, Harukanaru Densetsu is all about numbers and objects, something most gamers will learn within the first round of their very first fight.
At its core Harukanaru Densetsu is essentially the card game War. Two players battle against each other and turn over cards, whoever has the higher numbered card wins and is able to use whatever skill the card holds. Each card has a small picture of one of the character's abilities, which include fighting, running away, upping their defense, use and item, and so on so forth. Each of these cards has a number on the top, and once both cards are turned over the winner is determined by who has the higher numbered card.
Along with the power number, you also have a number that shows your guard against an attack. Let's say you lose a round and the enemy is going to attack you, this guard number is there to keep you protected against a certain amount of damage. As you go back and forth winning (and losing) rounds you will be taking life away from your opponent, the winner is determined after one of the two players loses off of their health. To add a little spice to the combat, you will be able to create card combos (assuming you have cards in your hand with the same power or guard value). This has the potential of adding to the overall depth of the game, but it's rare and not as interesting as it should be. Unfortunately that's it, that's the entirety of the combat system. You just pick high numbered cards out of your imaginary deck and hope to place a larger number than your opponent.
While there's something to be said about the simple nature of Harukanaru Densetsu's card combat, the problem is that every round seems to be determined by luck rather than skill. You don't have much control over your deck, so it all comes down to what cards are selected for you to play. All you can do is hope for the best when you select five low numbered cards, whereas by sharp contrast you're practically invincible when you have a hand of mostly high numbered cards. This didn't annoy me as much as other luck-based card games (I'm looking at you SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS), but it's frustrating all the same.
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