I won't lie – I was something of an otaku when I was young. (Okay, I still am; I founded the Mills College anime club, for crying out loud). I watched Gundam Wing, Sailor Moon and even Robotech, the mutant hybrid that should not have been but was somehow totally awesome. And, of course, I was into all things Dragon Ball – all the way through GT. Dragon Ball Origins takes me back to the happy place that was after school and on Saturday mornings – somewhere between badly dubbed anime and expensive comics with thinly veiled adult humor. It's an action-adventure in the same vein as Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass – an RPG that's trimmed down for simple DS controls.In fact, the touch screen is the only control you use in Origins, with attacks being triggered by tapping and/or dragging the stylus across the lower screen. Both screens depict the action going on in the levels – so you'll always have a wide view of what's going on as you guide Goku through the environments. Secondary characters run free on the screen, but are yo-yo'd to you so they never wander too far (and for the most part, they can take care of themselves with their own weapons).
The plot follows the Dragon Ball saga all the way from the very beginning of the series (where Bulma drags Son Goku on her quest to find all seven dragon balls) all the way up to the first Martial Arts World Tournament right after Oolong foils General Pilaf's attempt to make a wish on the dragon balls. This is before super-strength training, characters dying/being brought back from the death, and the whole aliens-coming-to-destroy-the-world themes took over the series and eventually spawned Dragon Ball Z – so no one-on-one fighting, taunt button-whoring, or Super Saiyan power-ups. Just pure adventuring with a monkey-tailed little boy and his blue-haired sidekick. (Looks like you do get to participate in the Martial Arts World Tournament at the end of the game – so maybe there's a one-on-one element to it.) Even if you don't know/care about the Dragon Ball series and the name Chi Chi inspires nothing in you but a vague suspicion that a breast joke has been made, this is a game DS owners will want to have. Developer Game Republic has put a lot of effort into the 3D cutscenes and intricate environments – so the game looks good, as well as plays solidly. Dragon Ball Origins DS is out this November. Check out the screens below: