Last time on Games I Beat In 2014! Emptyeye wrote about a game that lacked any coherency in an article that did likewise! Now, our hero is faced with his toughest challenge yet…writing about a licensed game based on a property that he doesn’t even like! Can Emptyeye recover his form? Or was the previous entry the start of a downward spiral which he can never escape?! Find out now on this exciting episode of…GAMES I BEAT IN 2014!!
You may be wondering why I played through this, given that I’m not a fan of Dragon Ball Z (To say the least), and given the perception that licensed games are invariably crap (Not actually true, even going back to the 8/16-bit era and Capcom’s mostly wonderful Disney games, but the perception persists to this day thanks to games like Aliens: Colonial Marines). The answer is that some years back, I watched Frankomatic play through all three of the Game Boy Advance Dragon Ball Z games. Legacy of Goku looked terrible, but Legacy of Goku 2 and Buu’s Fury actually seemed pretty fun, even if you weren’t a fan of the series. I recently had the opportunity to acquire Buu’s Fury, and did so. And now we’re here.
Released in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance, Dragon Ball Z: Buu’s Fury focuses on what the official DBZ page considers the last quarter or so of the series (Honestly, I didn’t know the Saiyan Saga was important enough to warrant being mentioned on its own, but it’s there on the page, so hey), the Buu Saga. The main portion of the Saga involves, well, Buu, an evil being who’s been sealed up for millions of years. The evil wizard Babidi is trying to release Buu, and our band of heroes, including Gohan and Vegeta, have to stop him. It’s worth noting that despite not liking DBZ, I did have some basic knowledge of the overarching plot of the series, its main villains, etc. If you came into this game completely blind, there are some things a few villagers say that may confuse you, since they actually reference stuff in the previous game. These bits are minor, though, and not having any knowledge won’t stop you from being able to follow along and advance in this game in terms of the major stuff. Plus, you get a Scouter, which in addition to giving you enemy information, will help to fill in some of the plot blanks.
In terms of the gameplay, Dragon Ball Z can be most easily compared to Secret of Mana, particularly if the Glove were the only physical weapon you could use in SoM. You travel the world, occasionally talking to people, beating up on foes to gain experience, which increases your level. The game branches off from Secret of Mana when you level up, as you gain three Stat Points to distribute as you wish. This is pretty neat, though with only three stats to distribute the points among, and a moving stat “cap” (One stat can only go as high as your current level), there isn’t as much freedom for customization as you might hope.
At this point, I should mention that Frankomatic’s videos gave me a bit of an edge here, in that I remembered what the more-or-less optimal way to distribute stats was. There were times I intentionally forwent this for a character or two, and I did try not to abuse this and my tendency to overgrind too much. Even given those things, though, Buu’s Fury is not a particularly difficult game, especially given its gatekeeping system. And I mean that literally–most locations have a character-specific gate with a number on it. The number represents the minimum level your character has to be to break the gate down–anything less and you can’t go through. Fortunately, gaining levels over the course of the game is quick and easy, particularly if you use the experience-boosting items.
The game falls somewhere between “disposable” and “Final Fantasy II” in length. My time at the last save point was just over 17 hours, but that doesn’t take into account that I spent about 6 of that grinding to get through a door that was presented to me at the start of the game, but that I (Presumably) wasn’t meant to actually get through until near the end. For “main game” content, I’d expect it to take 12-15 hours to go from start-to-finish, if you play it in a sane manner. It’s worth noting that the game manages to take an already poorly-paced portion of the series (Even fans of DBZ tend to agree that the Buu Saga is where it fell apart) and add even more padding onto it–Babidi’s Ship is basically a Boss Rush in the series; Buu’s Fury has you solving simple switch puzzles between the “boss” fights. If I remember correctly, if you just couldn’t get enough of the game, there is some post-game content with an alternate ending if you go through and get everything it has to offer as well.
In all, Dragon Ball Z: Buu’s Fury is a worthwhile action/RPG experience, even if you aren’t a fan of the series. A basic knowledge of it will help in excusing some of its more ridiculous points, even if it means the answer to “Why does Character X act like a total idiot at times?” is “Because the anime, that’s why”. But the gameplay is solid, and the aforementioned experience with the series isn’t necessary to enjoy the game. I managed to pick it up for $10 thanks to Zewing, and I don’t regret that money spent.