I was a huge fan of Dragon Ball Z back in the day, as I’ve discussed before, but somewhere along the line I fell off the train. Maybe it was too many viewings on Cartoon Network or the discovery of other animes, but it lost its magic along the line somewhere.

What I do remember fondly are the early Saiyan and Frieza Sagas. Before the whole the whole Android Saga and focus on everyone and their mother becoming a “once in a millennia” Super Saiyan, Dragon Ball Z actually sported a dramatic overarching storyline that worked in the context of the universe.

A rebellious and powerful group of aliens causes pain throughout the universe, but also suffers under the heavy hand of an even greater oppressor. These tragic villains wait on the verge of their slave status for a legendary all power being to rescue them. You really feel for the Saiyans before realizing that they are just as horrible.

This was when the series was more about drama rather than just the fights. There was an actual flow rather than just a looming new powerful villain of the month. Weaker humorous characters from Dragon Ball made natural appearances, and hunting for the titular Dragon Balls remained a huge plot point. The formula definitely started to show a lot of wear by the end of the Frieza Saga, but the story concluded itself nicely before getting convoluted again with time travel, multiple universes, fusions, and levels of Super Saiyans.

Why am I talking about the Saiyan and Frieza Sagas? Well, the gameplay video and bath of screenshots revolves around these earlier fights. Piccolo and Krillin go to town with the muscle bound Nappa, and Super Saiyan Goku rumbles with the oppressive Frieza. The jagged art style employed by the end of the series has a hard time recreating the more softly-outlined designs from the earlier days, but it all works out.

It’s been a long time since I’ve dabbled in anything regarding Dragon Ball Z, but this game has me hyped to give it another try. I’m not expecting a brilliant fighting game with pro-techniques, but just a nice trip down nostalgia lane might be nice.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z will be released this holiday season for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and Xbox 360.

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