When I approach collectibles, I'm at a loss as to what to expect.
This is coming from someone who completely missed the Pokemon
phenomenon. I tried to prepare myself by going into the Dragonball Z
mythos and did some research work on how the Dragonball Z card games
work. I found out that like most card games, it runs in the same vein
as previous giants like Magic: The Gathering except it eschews the
swords and fantasy universe for an anime one, based on arguably one of
the most famous franchises from overseas.
The execution of the game itself is similar to ones in its class. You
basically engage in a duel or battle, tapping different cards in your
hand, trying to slay the enemy by using a variety of tricks in your deck
and of course, the luck of a draw. Tapping from Frieza, Saiyan, Trunks
and Android sagas, you can assemble a competent battle deck that suits
your playing style. And upon winning, not only do you get to unlock new
(more powerful) characters but also chances for cards unique to the GBA
that you can use to trade with your friends.
Unfortunately, there's not really much in the way of progress in the
game, short of making the round trip to see the mugs of all the
Dragonball villains. There are levels you must advance but the
opposition you face is fairly static, in the sense that no one really
exudes a distinct playing style that suggests they are a unique (human)
personality. Truly, the fun of card games comes from playing someone
else. Let's take an analogy. Video poker is never as fun as a real
game of poker. Along the same lines, because this card game is not
expandable, the unlocked bonus cards provide very little reward;
ultimately, less thrilling than winning cash from video poker. Thus,
the two reasons (human competition, physical reward) for playing this
electronically are completely gone.
This title, however, will appeal to those who already own decks of
Dragonball Z cards and yet don't have the finances to purchase all the
decks involved or want to experiment before making their real-life
purchases. That's understandable. Those who are not inundated into the
card game ethos, on the other hand, will not find it as enjoyable,
unless you were so poor you could not afford a single deck of cards.
There's an in-game tutorial to help you grasp the basics of the game and
also of the interface, which is not exactly the most intuitive one
around; at least not in my experience.
While it's authentic, with a running list of cards that resemble their
real-life counterparts, the lack of any progress to download new cards
or get new things is the most disappointing part of this game. It might
have worked better as a construction set, rather than a structured,
mostly linear, game. GBA titles are famous for pass phrases and special
codes. Why couldn't this game be linked to the net, via those codes,
and provide some quantifiable cards, either in the online space (Magic:
The Gathering is taking this route) or in the physical world, through
what you have achieved in the GBA game? Curiously, while there is
variety in material (over three hundred cards, the literature says),
there's little variety in music and dress-up of the interface. The
Dragonball Z franchise has spawned numerous titles on a variety of
platforms. If you're looking for something related to this universe,
there are better titles out there.