Over the past couple of decades, the Dragon Ball anime franchise has seen dozens of game adaptations, each tackling the same stories in different ways. The Dragon Ball Z series has seen most of the love with a plethora of fighting games on nearly every system. With all the brawling and screaming in these games, some might not know that Dragon Ball hasn't always been about super beams and 9,000-plus energy levels. Dragon Ball: Origins goes back to the beginning, when series star Goku was just an innocent little boy with a tail, and re-creates many of the classic episodes through an entertaining action adventure game on the DS.
In the original Dragon Ball series, fighting took a backseat to adventuring. With the exception of Goku, who is really just along for the ride, most of the quirky characters have one goal in mind: gather all seven dragon balls to summon the dragon and have their one wish fulfilled. On their journey to collect the seven dragon balls, Goku and his friends run into all types of monsters, misfits, and perverse old men. The outlandish characters are what make the story so much fun, and the game does a great job of highlighting their quirky personalities. A good chunk of the original series is represented here, from the first time Goku meets a girl to the World Martial Arts Tournament. Each level follows a different episode of the show, and each episode is generously peppered with cutscenes. The cutscenes faithfully re-create most of the moments from the show, so even if you're not familiar with the Dragon Ball story, you can still follow along.
Those unfamiliar with the original uncut episodes might be shocked at how perverted Master Roshi is--he's a dirty old man.
Dragon Ball: Origins plays like an action adventure game, with a few RPG elements tossed in. Most levels will have you navigating large maps or dungeons littered with light puzzles and enemies. Though none of the dungeons are especially hard, they do feature plenty of hidden items and they always force you to use all of Goku's moves to proceed. Since Goku unlocks a new move or ability every few levels, you'll constantly be shuffling through his broad repertoire to complete the game. Nearly half of the levels will pair you with Bulma, who is considerably weaker than Goku. Thankfully, you won't have to babysit her too much, because she usually runs ahead to where she needs to go and waits for you to find a switch or bust down a wall. The dungeon crawls are frequently broken up with fun, short levels centered around single battles, flights on Goku's flying nimbus, or training with Master Roshi. The main quest takes at least 12 hours to complete, but the level variety, constant unlockables, and pleasant cutscenes keep the campaign from getting stale.
During your adventures through the vibrant forests and dank caves, you'll come across a variety of enemies, most of which have made an appearance on the show in some form or another. The enemy AI isn't very smart, and in most cases you can easily dash past them and skip the fight altogether, but there are a few challenging enemies and bosses that require specific moves to beat. The final fights in the World Martial Arts Tournament are particularly challenging because they strip you of your weapon and healing items.