reviews\ Nov 18, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans - NDS - Review

I have to admit that my appreciation for all things Dragon Ball Z is more centered on the manga and anime that inspired the numerous games that have brought Goku and his friends to many a console. As a fan, I found it hard to really enjoy the Dragon Ball Z fighting games that have been released and hoped that someday a game worthy of the series will find itself in my possession. Well, fellow Dragon Ball Z fans, that day has finally come with the release of Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans for the Nintendo DS.


Surprisingly, Attack of the Saiyans is not a fighting game but a role-playing game in the traditional classic RPG style. It recounts one of the series’ first sagas - the Vegeta Saga - as Goku and his friends come under attack of a powerful foe named Vegeta who is what is known as a Saiyan. Along with his friends Krillin, Tien, Yamcha and his young son named Gohan, Goku discovers the power of the Saiyans and comes to know a most startling truth about himself. Yes, we’ve seen this story arc before in past games but there are actually some surprises this time along and I must say that the retelling makes this game the best starting point for those who have always wanted to get into the Dragon Ball Z series.

Played as a traditional role-playing game with a heavy dose of Dragon Ball Z lore elements, you’ll have a healthy party of recognizable characters and as you go along you will even change your party to include the likes of Gohan and even Piccolo. Like the anime and manga, each character brings their own individual ability to the party so expect Goku to bust out his Kamehameha or Gohan to use his Masenko. You’ll even be able to use some of these abilities while exploring such the times when you need to clear rubble or a breakable wall.

There’s actually a big world to explore with towns and even dungeons. You’ll be traveling via a world map to different locations that the story will take you through and that includes entering different areas that trigger an event or have you exploring dungeons. You can even stop into a town for supplies by going to shops and making use of the money you earn by defeating enemies.


Speaking of battles, the game handles it in the same old school fashion as classic RPG fare but with the only difference being that the party uses Dragon Ball Z-styled attacks. The battles are a tad easier than most role-playing games as well, although there are foes - like Vegeta - that will have you glad there are reasonably placed save points throughout the area as well as plenty of health items. You can also pull off combos as well as unleash Ultimate and Super Skills for the more powerful enemies you’ll go up against … especially in the World Martial Arts Tournament chapter.

The good news is that the game is quite lengthy and has contains various little surprises that hardcore fans will definitely appreciate. The game also keeps things short but sweet so you won’t get lost in the several dungeons you encounter in the game and there are even interested scripted events that keep the flow of the game moving nicely. Combat might be a bit too easy to the experience RPG fan but that might not be so bad for the younger crowd.

Visually speaking, Attack of the Saiyans looks colorful, is nicely detailed and makes the character on the map recognizable to fans. There are great cut scenes with wonderful character art true to the anime and manga and the visual effects - while dated - work wonderfully enough. There’s also a decent soundtrack that does repeat itself but you won’t mind it one bit. I also enjoyed the sound effects that make up for the lack of voice acting. We would have loved some sound clips in the game but this isn’t so bad.


Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans is, by far, one of the best role-playing games to make good use of the Dragon Ball Z label. It might not be a revolutionary role-playing game but it certainly has all the right elements to make this a game that Dragon Ball Z fans new or old will definitely enjoy. You will certainly not want to miss this one even if it isn’t a Dragon Ball Z fighting game. 

Review Scoring Details for Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans

Gameplay: 7.0
A retelling of the original Vegeta Saga with branching extra storylines, the game’s chapters are actually of decent length and paced perfectly enough to keep younger gamers from being bored. The battles have been simplified and that’s not such a bad thing seeing as each character brings his own skills to the adventure.

Graphics: 7.5
While the graphics are far from spectacular, the game’s visuals do look rather nice and actually very detailed when it comes to the environments and the character models. The cut scenes and visual effects also look really good.

Sound: 7.0
The game’s music offers a nice variety of instrumental tunes and you won’t mind it if you hear them again at some point in the game. There’s no voice acting in the game but you will like the light sound effects. 

Difficulty: Medium
There are many difficult battles in the game even early on so you will most definitely make good use of your health items and your most powerful moves but there is nothing here that will have even the most casual RPG enthusiasts to worry. The younger crowd might find the game challenging enough.

Concept: 7.0
Dragon Ball Z fans will certainly like the retelling of the Vegeta Saga and new chapters that make the story feel even more complete. There are plenty of characters, including many familiar faces and there are various locales to visit.

Overall: 7.0
Making the transition from the traditional fighting game of past Dragon Ball Z games to a role-playing game on the DS, Attack of the Saiyans is a worthwhile attempt that actually works. If anything, this game serves as the perfect introduction to the Dragon Ball Z universe so those who always wanted to jump on the Goku bandwagon will find a lot to like about this game.


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