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Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans (ドラゴンボールカイ(改)サイヤ人来襲, Doragon Bōru Kai Saiyajin Raishū; lit. "Dragon Ball Kai: Attack of the Saiyans") is a video game developed by Monolith Soft, and distributed by Namco Bandai in North America and everywhere else under the Bandai label for the Nintendo DS console. It was released in Japan on April 29, 2009. The game was released in Australia, Europe and America in November 2009 with the Dragon Ball Z label. The game was originally planned to use the Z moniker, but was changed to Kai to associate it with the Dragon Ball Kai revision.
The game is a turn based RPG that allows players to take on the role of six characters from the series, starting from the Piccolo Jr. Saga through the Saiyan Saga. The storyline in Attack of the Saiyans begins with the Z Fighters training for the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament and ends with the battle against Vegeta (similar to the 1994 Game Boy video game Dragon Ball Z: Goku Hishōden). The game is one of the first games in the Dragon Ball franchise to be published by Namco Bandai in America, as the company would acquire the gaming license from previous license holder Atari in July of that same year.
The game was met with fair criticism with gaming critics complementing the battle system, its visuals, and its ability to stay true to the series. It would go on to be the third best selling video game in Japan.
The game was first announced in the December 22, 2008, issue of Weekly Shonen Jump magazine with the title Dragon Ball Z Story: Saiyan Invasion (ドラゴンボールZストーリー サイヤ人来襲, Doragon Bōru Zetto Sutōrī Saiyajin Raishū). The article stated that the game would be an RPG in development by Monolith Soft that would take start at the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament and extend into the Saiyan Saga, and it would be released sometime in 2009. Several screenshots were shown in the article. One of which depicted different looking graphics command icons. In the February issue of V-Jump, it was announced that the title had been changed from Dragon Ball Z to Dragon Ball Kai to tie-in with the Dragon Ball Kai revision. On May 25, Namco Bandai's European branch released a press statement announcing that they would be releasing the game throughout Europe under the new name Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans. On June 2, Namco Bandai's US branch issued a press release stating that they would release the game as Attack of the Saiyans throughout North America. The announcement also mention that the game would include numerous alternate storylines for a better understanding of the Dragon Ball universe, a three character party and combo attack system, that certain ki attacks would be needed to solve puzzles or unlock secrets, and that their release date would be sometime in the Fall of 2009. Following that statement, the company issued another press release stating that the had acquired the North American license from previous license holder Atari, and would publish future Dragon Ball games for, at least, the next five years starting with Attack of the Saiyans, Dragon Ball: Raging Blast, and Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo. In November, Namco Bandai issued a press release stating that the game was available throughout all North American markets.
Presented in traditional 2D animation sprites, the game consists of three modes to help navigate, the map of the Dragon World, the area maps, and the battle mode. The world map will be available from the start, and will allow players easy access to each of the areas throughout the game. On area maps the player will navigate through various places such fields, forests, caves, and towns on the top screen. The touch screen will display available equipment that can be used while in fields. These items are available courtesy of Capsule Corporation Dyno-Caps which can be bought, given, or found in various spots and or treasure chests. Many of these areas have obstacles such as rocks and brush which the player will have overcome with ki blasts. However, some of these obstacles require stronger levels of ki blasts. The battle screen will take place at the screen with the party facing off with a monster or a boss, their stats and the command select icon presented via the touch screen. The game makes little to no use of the stylus, forcing players to rely on the control pad.
In combat, the player's active party members will consist of only first three members of their party or less. Players can swap available members at any time throughout the game. Each character will have a few set attacks and techniques at the player's disposal while the rest are locked. When the player wins a battle, each member of their party will earn Ability Points or AP. Ability Points can be used to buy or upgrade skills in in a character's skill menu. When certain skills are unlocked or upgraded new skills will become available. Each character will have a "Rage Gauge". This meter will gradually fill throughout the course of combat. When a character's gauge is full, they go into Sparking! mode and the character is surrounded by a red aura. In Sparking! mode, the character can perform an ultimate attack or, if two or more characters gauges are full, they can execute a Sparking Combo (a combination of attacks performed when the right characters in a party are in Sparking! mode and the right attacks are executed on the same target). When an ultimate attack or a Sparking Combo is performed, the gauge returns to zero. Players also have the ability to block enemy attacks with the Active Guard; this allows a chosen character to only take minimal damage when their corresponding button is pressed at the moment before an attack.
- Prologue: The Moment of Departure! Toward Ever Greater Heights... (mission 0)
- Chapter 1: Take Back the Temple! Krillin's Tearful Homecoming (missions 1-2)
- Chapter 2: Yamcha's Killer Spirit Ball! Who's In the Hideout? (missions 3-4)
- Chapter 3: Tien the Almighty The Ultimate Multi Form Attack! (mission 5)
- Chapter 4: Even Further Activity! The Turbulent Tenkaichi Budoukai (missions 6-8)
- Chapter 5: Gyuumao in Danger!? The Wedding Dress in Flames (missions 9-18)
- Chapter 6: The Strongest of Warriors, Raditz Invades! (missions 19-22)
- Chapter 7: Don’t Cry, Gohan! His First Battle (missions 23-24)
- Chapter 8: Even Further Activity! Aim for Lord Kami’s Palace (missions 25-36)
- Chapter 9: Even Lord Enma is Startled: A Fight in the Afterlife (missions 37-50)
- Chapter 10: The Lost Dragonballs! The Long Road to Victory (missions 51-63)
- Chapter 11: Don’t Lose, Gohan! Piccolo’s Harsh Training (missions 64-69)
- Chapter 12: Show Your Hidden Power: The Warriors’ Hot Pulse (missions 70-71)
- Chapter 13: The Ultimate Technique! Power of the Spirit Bomb (missions 72-74)
- Chapter 14: The Saiyans Arrive! It’s the True Decisive Battle! (missions 75-79)
- Chapter 15: A Super Battle that Surpasses the Max! A Limit Power Explosion! (mission 80 + bonus missions)
- Epilogue: End of the end of the pitched battle! Piccolo's home is the key… (Credits)
- Saibaman/J. Sai/C. Sai/K. Sai/T. Sai
- Pirate Robot/Skull Robot/Captain Robot
- Red Ribbon Army:
- Red Ribbon Spy/Hired Rider
- RR Tundra Robot
- RR Deserter/Red Ribbon Survivor/Red Ribbon Medic
- RR High Soldier/RR Northern Soldier
- RR Ex-Sergeant/RR Ex-Staff Sergeant
- Female Bandit/Snow Bandit Girl/Bandit Queen
- Bandit/Snow Bandit/Bandit King
- Thief Fox/Veteran Fox/Racketeer Fox
- Sniper/Refugee/Elite Assassin
- Piratess/Female Desert Bandit
- Pirate/Desert Bandit
- Rabbit Private/Rabbit Elite Guard/Rabbit Survivor
- Female Pupil/Master
- Betrayer/Expelled Pupil/Pupil
- Would-be Fighter/Rowdy Fighter/Instructor
- Princess Servant/Princess' Guard/Weird Girl
- Raider/Thug/Grave Robber
- Meadow Wizard/Spring Guard/Red Shaman
- Distrustful Man/Violent Tribesman/Ruin Guard
- Winged Dragon/Violent Dragon/Snow Dragon
- Dinosaur/Ice Dinosaur/Fire Dinosaur
- Giant Snake/Mansion Snake/Poisonous Snake
- Lantern Ghost/Ship Ghost/Patrol Ghost
- Ghost Pot/Head Ghoul/Death Sentence
- Miniature Demons
- Gogyo Majin/Ensei Majin/Spring Majin
- Ostrich Chicken/Sand Dodo/Dododo
- Firebird/Blue Hawk/Dark Condor
- Tiger/Snow Tiger/Dimensional Tiger
- Wolf/White Wolf/Red Wolf
- Stray Dog/Red Ribbon Spy Dog/Super Watchdog
- Wild Boar/Champion Boar/Snow Boar
- Hungry Bear/Snow Bear/Strong Bear
- Dangerous Panda/Snow Panda/Ultimate Pandaman
- Giant Fish/Wild Fish/Sand Fish
- Wolfman/Werewolf/Golden Wolf
- Bloodsucker/Vampire/Red Vampire
- Mummy Man/Mummy/Burning Mummy
- Giant Bat/Vampire Bat/King Bat
- Big Crab/Giant Crab/Dark Crab
- Experiment #3/Experiment #7/Experiment #9
- Sandman/Yorgan/Failed Experiment
- Forest Guard/Ancient Descendant/Mad Scientist
- Tumble Bug/Fire Caterpillar/Caterpillar
- Dark Giras/Magmaras/Dengiras
- Roundworm/Dark Firefly/Poison Sandbug
- Roundworm Larva/Firefly Larva/Sandbug Larva
- Helper Robot/Someone's Robot/Spy Robot
- * Indicates that one of Mr. Popo's seven Dragon Balls can be located there right before the battle against Vegeta
Reception and sales
Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans was released in Japan on April 29, 2009, in Australia on October 23, 2009, in Europe on November 6, 2009, and in North America on November 10, 2009. Following its release, the game would go on to become the third best-selling video game in Japan during the month of May 2009, falling behind two other DS games Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Ace Attorney Investigations.
With its sales, the game managed to earn positive review from various gaming critics. It would earn aggregated scores of 73 on Metacritic, 72.89% on Game Rankings, and 7.5 on GameStats. Charles Onyett of IGN found the gameplay enjoyable and enough to be appreciated by fans of any genre. However, he stated that if players were not Dragon Ball fans, then they will not want to play the game. Robert Thompson of Nintendojo felt that the game would satisfy fans of both the series and the genre, but he would complain about the ki and Sparking Combo attacks being repetitive, and the story shifting control of the characters, stating it could make unfamiliar gamers disoriented. Ryan Olsen of Kombo praised the battle system calling it more engaging than the ones found the average RPG. Still he would call the game a cut and dry RPG, calling the Active Guard system the only exotic aspect of the game. Neal Ronaghan of the Nintendo World Report would call the game vanilla with an interesting twists. Stating that the fans should be the ones playing the game. He would also draw comparisons of the Active Guard system to the Timed Hit system from Super Mario RPG, and Rage Gage to the Limit Break from Final Fantasy. Brittany Vincent of RPGFan would call side quests like Krillin's return home an added treat to the long story. She would point out the game's difficulty being frustrating, stating that the game will cause players to revert to the start screen many times, yet is still beatable.
Joe Law of GameFocus criticized the Rage Gage system, stating that it had been done better in other games. However he cited the game's overall length a good thing as he felt the game had no replay value. "jkdmedia" of GameZone praised the game calling it the best RPG to make use of the Dragon Ball label, and the game was the perfect introduction into the franchise. Mike Moehnke of RPGamer cited the games as not being perfect, but was superior to the Super Famicom game Legend of the Super Saiyan. Mike Baggley of Extreme Gamer found positives in the story, the graphics, and battle system. He enjoyed the switch to an RPG, stating that he was glad that they move the series to this genre. He would point out that anybody under the age of twelve would find the game challenging. Kat Bailey of 1UP felt the game was made with children in mind, stating that the vibrant colors and the fast-paced gameplay would keep kids interested in the game.
The game has sold 330,000 units as of July 21, 2012.
- The Japanese voices remain intact throughout gameplay in the English and European versions of the game.
- Ironically, while Dragon Ball Kai is a revision removing the whole filler of Dragon Ball Z, this game contains many side-stories to the original history of the anime.
- Krillin visits the Orin Temple in the game.
- It is explained that Monster Carrot was able to come back to Earth before the moon was destroyed.
- In this game, the Two-Star Ball is split in half, and Mr. Popo claims Dragon Balls are fragile. However, it was stated in the series that Dragon Balls are meant to be unbreakable, unless too much negative energy is stored in them.
- Broly can be fought as a secret boss. To fight, the 7 Dragon Balls which have been made by Mr. Popo must be collected and the wish to fight the ultimate enemy must be made. Broly is the strongest enemy in the game.
- In this game, Mrs. Brief's hair is green instead of blonde. This is due to the fact that a standard female human sprite was used to portray her.
- There is a real world reference: after East City is ruined, a generic pedestrian in the Ruined City says it is not a Chinese paradise.
- The game does not offer the possibility to save after entering the cave that must be passed through in order to confront Vegeta, so it is in a perpetual mode of a near-beaten status with still an entire world to explore, Mr. Popo's Dragon Ball set to collect, and bonuses to find.
- Just before confronting Vegeta, the player can visit Fortuneteller Baba and she can bring back Tien, Yamcha and Piccolo. Unlike when Baba brings back Goku to help find the Dragon Balls, they do not have halos. Also, when Raditz is fought in Hell, he does not have a halo either.
- In the cast credits, the characters have their original Japanese names: Tenshinhan instead of Tien Shinhan, Son Goku instead of Goku, and Son Gohan instead of Gohan.
- Despite no announcement of another game yet, at the end of the game, pictures of Frieza and Planet Namek are shown, hinting at a sequel.