Like the heading says, what’s the furthest lengths you have personally gone to acquire a game?
Did some of you in your quest to seek out that rare and elusive title resort to unconventional means in order to get it in your grubby little mitts?
Have any of you ever gone so far as to... kill someone for a game?!
-Okay, Ninja. Dial it back a few notches.-
Hey, I’m sure there’s some psychopath out there that has.
-Yeah, Ninja. You see him every day in the mirror.-
All joking aside, this may seem like a minor (and even in some respects, trivial.) question to ask especially when one sits back and considers the bevy of different resources and methods at one’s fingertips these days such as 2 days shipping from services like Amazon or even more convenient digital purchases, but for gamers who didn’t grow up in an era of such convenience and widespread availability sometimes tracking down that rare and elusive game stood out more than the actual game in question.
For myself that special game was none other than Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout for the Playstation.
“What?” You say. “Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout?”
Trust me, I can already hear your scoffs of disapproval but a little background is in order.
-Oh boy, here we go.-
Back in the early to mid 90’s very few people had heard of the term Dragon Ball. Even fewer had heard of the same name with the letter Z tacked on at the end as hard as that is to believe in today’s world where virtually everyone under the age of 40 knows or has heard of it in some capacity.
Back in 1996 (If my memory serves me correctly.) an obscure T.V station was airing a “new” fighting series named Dragon Ball Z early Saturday mornings much to my surprise. I had personally never seen anything quite like it, a super-hero/fighting type cartoon with more heavy themes and plot devices that other “kids” cartoons at the time just weren’t even close to. For the love of Miyamoto, what other cartoon back in the 80’s to 90’s (geared towards kids.) had the main character die off in the first 4 episodes? To say I was watching something unique and different for the time period in question was quite an understatement.
As such, I became quickly enamored with everything Dragon Ball/Z related and spent many a year seeking out further episodes (The station only aired the first saga.) and information on later characters and subsequent story arcs. Bear in mind this is still 1996/1997, a time in which Dragon Ball Z in the West was not the juggernaut it still is today.
I went to painstaking lengths to find out more about later entries in the franchise, even resorting to purchasing foreign VHS tapes (For younger gamers out there that don’t know what those are GOOGLE it, lol.) at $30 each for 2 to 3 episodes all in an attempt to find out what happened next in each saga.
Yeah, I was committed.
-Committed, Ninja? Or do you mean you should have been committed?-
It was only a matter of time before I started seeking out videogame adaptations of my new favorite obsession…err, I mean T.V show.
Unfortunately, back in 1996 (as I eluded to.) Dragon Ball Z was still more of a niche thing. Very few people knew anything about it and the ones that did often confused Z with the original Dragon Ball that had been aired prior to Z (only the first 12 episodes.).
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there was absolutely ZERO in the way of Dragon Ball related games in the West for any of the major video gaming consoles at the time.
It wasn’t until one day I was in a Zellers (remember those?) in the electronics section that I saw my first glimpse of a Dragon Ball game. Back then Zellers would sell what I can only describe as true indie computer games. What I mean by that is someone (literally one person.) would make a kind of crude game and put it on a hard disk (GOOGLE IT!) and sell it for $5. While looking though this pile of unwanted gaming rejects I stumbled upon my first Dragon Ball game.
The image on the front had Goku and Krillin facing off against each other on a crude kind of paper cover. On the back of the hard disc was a simple explanation of what the game was about. The programmer admitted that he had made a simple fighting game based on a manga comic he had seen on a store shelf in China town. He had no idea what it was about but thought it looked interesting so he made a cheap fighter based on the 2 characters he had seen on the cover which he had unknowingly named something to the effect of Bryce Lee (Goku.) and Jackiee chin (krillin.). Those probably aren’t the exact names he used but it was something similar to a rip-off of more well-known martial arts action stars.
Even though this guy clearly had no idea what he was doing (or even the source material for that matter.) I purchased the game without question like a rabid dog. I went home and booted up my Computer and placed the disc in, completely hyped to finally play a videogame adaptation of my favorite show.
To say this game was bad is doing a disservice to the word bad. This one of the worst videogames (if you could even call it that.) I have ever played in my entire life… EVER!!!! I’m talking on the level of E.T on the Atari. It made games like Superman 64 look and play like Zelda in comparison. Yeah, it really was that bad.
The game comprised of 2 buttons for attacks and moving from left to right. If you moved too far left a line would come down the center of the screen to symbolize the distance between the 2 combatants.
Yeah, it was bad. Scratch that, it was terrible. But I played it to death. Now I know what you might be thinking. “Oh, Ninja. Let us guess. You loved it. You have a sentimental place for it in your heart.”
NOT AT ALL!
I absolutely loathed playing that horrid piece of garbage. When I say that I played it to death I meant that I played it for a few days and that was it. The truth is the game in question would probably only hold most people’s attention for 2 minutes. Yeah, it was that BAD! Combined with the fact that it was just a 1 on 1 fighter that had matches that only lasted about 5 seconds (Yeah, that’s right. 5 seconds!) and it just made my extended play-time with it that much more impressive.
But what kept me going back for more like a battered wife (-That was totally unnecessary, Ninja.-) was that it was ALL I HAD.
Fast forward about a year. I had given up on finding anything dragon Ball related in regards to videogames seeing as how nothing existed at the time so like many I just busied myself with the regular big name mainstream games that were making headlines in the video gaming world at the time.
It wasn’t until I saw an advertisement in the back of one of my gaming magazines (GAMEFAN.) that it was revealed to me that “real” Dragon Ball games did in fact exist despite my minor setback earlier in the year.
Thanks to these magazines I was now introduced to the world of import gaming. I know many of you were probably screaming at the top of your lungs earlier “NINJA! There have been tons of Dragon Ball Games available before 1997” and guess what? You would all be right, but once again remember the time period and the context.
This was during the infancy of the internet, as such when it came to video gaming all of our news as gamers came from limited sources like the magazines. People went to places like Toy’s R’ Us, Walmart, or other such stores that had videogames (as games were still seen of during those days as kids products.) and whatever they had was whatever they had. The whole idea of Importing games was such a foreign concept (-I see what you did there, Ninja-) that only a select few even had it on their radar.
Well, that all changed that fateful day my eyes landed on that advertisement in the back of that GAMEFAN magazine. There was a whole section devoted to Japanese/Import titles, everything from Rockman (Wait… isn’t that, Megaman!) to the latest King of Fighters game. But what my eyes gravitated to was something they had yearned for for what had felt like a small eternity
-Eternity, Ninja? Like the length of this post?-
At the very top of the page were a series of words that at that time made me hold my breath.
DRAGON BALL GT: FINAL BOUT
At that moment I knew I had to have it.
I followed the description down the page to a place called GAME CAVE, a store located in California that specialized in major video game releases as well as more of the rare and hard to find titles. It also came as no surprise that they had quite the selection of import titles, titles fans of mangas, animes, and the likes would give their left thumb to get a hold of.
Living in a different country at the time it wasn’t as easy as just picking up the phone and dialing, especially when you consider I was a young Ninja at this period in time. As such I had to convince my parents that I simply HAD to have this obscure game from an obscure store using an even more obscure method of delivery.
“Don’t they have this game at the store?” my parents asked. “Why can’t you just get it there?” For many weeks I had to constantly convince them that this game would probably never come to a local store (little did I know it would be released in the U.S at a much later date, lol.) and that I had been waiting my whole life (despite just finding out about Dragon Ball a year prior, lol.) for this game.
Whether it was out of pity or just plain annoyance (-Knowing you, Ninja. Definitely the last one.-) my parents folded. They phoned up the GAMECAVE and asked about getting their young Ninja this rare and obscure game that he just had to have.
Unfortunately, they were all completely sold out of it.
Just my luck. However, they did inform my parents that they did have one copy left. A demo copy they had on one of their displays for customers strolling in the store to play and check out. I didn’t even hesitate for a second. “YES!” I pleaded. And the rest, as they say, is history.
There have been very few times I have ever been so excited as I was the day that game arrived. I ripped it out of the package looking at all the Japanese lettering on the front and back. I didn’t understand a word of what it said (-But we thought you were a Ninja, Ninja?-) but it didn’t matter.
I had finally gotten hold of a real Dragon Ball game!
Seeing as how my Playstation was a domestic unit it was not meant to play Import games. GAMECAVE had sent a little pamphlet with instructions on how to “fool” the domestic Playstation so that it would read the import game. In addition to the pamphlet they gave me a small coil spring (Where I'm pointing in the pic below.) to put in the inside of the Playstation to somehow trick it into thinking it was really a domestic game. They also sent with my game a kind of adapter to be placed on the back of the console. Once again, this was all done in an attempt to fool the device into reading and subsequently playing the disc. Well, it worked. And yes, I’m happy to say I was finally able to play my beloved Dragon Ball game.
I’m going to be honest. This game was terrible. Not as bad as that terrible indie programmer hard disc but this was definitely nowhere near as good as many of the Dragon Ball titles out today; or even for that matter the titles released in the early 2000’s. Yeah, I was disappointed. But y’know what? I was finally playing Dragon Ball. And even though I knew deep down that it wasn’t a good game for that short window of time I was content.
Despite the Dragon Ball games having gotten a lot better from those early beginnings (Budokai, Burst Limit, Xenoverse, etc…) a part of me was always holding out for the hope that one day I would finally see that perfect marriage of Dragon Ball and Fighting game that I knew was possible.
Playing games like X-men vs Street fighter or Marvel vs Capcom during those very same years only made the disparity between those early Dragon ball games and the aforementioned titles even more jarring and subsequently the desire for a true tournament level Dragon Ball fighting game became all the more pronounced in my mind.
This is personally part of the reason why I am so impressed with the latest Dragon Ball Fighter Z game. For that young Ninja almost 20 years ago it was the game he was hoping to first place his grubby little ninja mitts on and even though it took nearly a quarter of a century to finally do so it was better late than never.
So, Giant Bomb community, what was the furthest lengths or the most effort you had to go to acquire a game?
-DRAGON BALLED NINJA APPROVED-