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Otaku News Special Christmas Gaming Reviews

Date: 2005 December 18th Sunday [6:15] | Posted By: Azure

Itís nearly Christmas and no doubt some of you are still undecided what to get, so as a special Christmas bonus weíve got two PS2 game reviews.
Full Story
Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi

First off itís probably important to say two things. Firstly if youíre not a Dragon Ball fan skip down the Musashi review, secondly if youíre a DBZ fan itís important to point out that this isnít really a Budokai in fact it was released in Japan as " Sparking", keep that firmly mind if you liked the previous Z games.

When the game boots up sadly thereís no original 2D animated sequence but rather a lacklustre 3D opening, the Japanese music ( We gotta Power) is also missing from the U.K opening. The music throughout the game seems to have been recycled from the Budokai series, and frankly itís starting to grate Ė surely it wouldnít have been too hard to licence the music from the series? Luckily though fans can look forward to choosing between Japanese and American voice over in the option menu, a feature, which Iím glad, has been retained.

The game itself is pretty different from the Budokai series side on view. This time the game is fully 3d with the option to fly at any time in a number of directions. This means the game isnít immediately pick and play like the previous in the series, it takes time to master flying around the environment. Occasionally there are some odd camera angels, the most frustrating occurs at the start of a fight when the camera is set straight behind the characters back, while this is a problem for both players in the versus mode it means that the computer opponent usually gets the upper hand at the start of the fight.

Special moves are pulled of by pressing the R2 and one to two other buttons-, which is hardly challenging, I assume this was done with the younger player in mind, and to boost the amount of energy attacks used per round. It couldnít hurt to make the super attacks a little more complicated in order to introduce a learning curve.

There are a number of playing modes the main mode dispenses with the board game format of the Budokai games, and instead follows a storyboard style menu comprised of reconstructions of battles from the show. Occasionally each storyboard slot has several fights within (selected by pressing up or down) which means you can play through fights as the supporting cast. I doubt anyone who hasnít seen the anime will really be able to follow whatís going on, as thereís very little explanation of plot. Thereís a little dialogue at the start of the fight, but it would have been nice to have a decent in game cut scene once in a while. Many of the fights have specific requirements such as time limits, use of a certain move etc but these challenges become pretty repetitive very quickly. Much like previous games when a battle is won items are awarded, which can increase strength, Ki etc much like an RPG.

The number of characters has been dramatically improved, with the full Genyu force making an appearance. Though I have a feeling thereís been a little bit of cheating to get the numbers up, Tenkaichi sadly has no in-game transformations, which was one of the Budokai series best features; instead for example Goku and Super Saiyan Goku are treated as separate characters. The tutorial mode is also a leap back, rather than a series of trials where characters teach techniques in game the tutorials are a series of text explanations, which were extremely hard to read on T.V

Tenkaichi is a difficult game to get into if you have played the previous games , and is suffering from all the teething problems of a new format. Fans will get a kick out of playing as their favourite characters, especially since thereís such a selection this time around. It takes a while to adapt to but once the player does so itís lot of fun for a brief time, but Tenkaichi lacks depth. I can imagine that many players will have the game finished by the new year. If you havenít played a DBZ game before I recommend Bodokai 3 instead, itís recently gone platinum and will provide a better gaming experience.
If you have the other DBZ games Tenkaichi is an interesting experiment though bewarned it wonít last long. A game for obsessive Z fans only.
7/10

Samurai Legend Musashi

Samurai legend Musashi starts out with a fairy familiar premise. Musashi is summoned from another world by the princess Mycella who is promptly kidnapped, from there you have to go out and rescue Mycella and a series of other unfortunate subjects in order to obtain increasingly more powerful swords.Musashi is largely an action adventure game, with heavy emphasis on the fighting it plays as an action heavy version of Kingdom Hearts, with overtones of RPGs such as dark cloud.

Things are kept interesting with the ability to copy certain enemiesí movies, and the change in fighting style when Musashi has to carry a hostage out of the level. Thereís something very fun about throwing someone up in the air, performing a special move then capturing him or her. Though in all honesty Musashi will fall back to one or two combos for most of the game.

The inevitable bosses are of the usual category, large monsters or machines with repeating patterns and obvious weak spots. In easy mode itís often simpler to stand by the boss and whack him with everything you have rather than figure out any pattern. The levels are largely long set route affairs though they do open up in places allowing for some challenge finding the correct route through. Many levels also have set action pieces, the first of which is a bike fight sequence, which felt very much like the famous sequence from Final Fantasy VII.

The game is centred around a ship which is full of unlock able shops, it lacks the custom ability of other similar games, but shops such as the ice cream shop do add a little variety to the items Musashi can use.

The graphics are lovely; the bold designs of Tetsuya Nomura really stand out, giving the game a distinctive look within the Square-Enix catalogue. The colours are bold but not overwhelming and thankfully Squenix have had the sense to texture the characters a little in a technique they call " manga Ėshading" rather than the normally overused "cell-shading" techniques. Thereís intermittent voice acting throughout the game at key points, some of the dialogue in genuinely funny though the voice actors do to ham it up.

Musashi is a fun experience to play, though wonít last nearly as long as the average Final Fantasy. It is however a well constructed diversion away from the hoards of dull " Thug-em-ups" flooding the market.

8/10

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