Raditz

        Today I’ll be looking at a character from Dragon Ball Z who is often overlooked these days and considered unimportant. However, Raditz is much more integral than people credit him for, and one game in particular shows this very well.
        But before I get to that, how is he generally portrayed, and why would he be seen as unimportant? As far as the story is concerned, Raditz admittedly had a very small amount of screen time, and as far as Dragon Ball Z villains go, aside from a few of Frieza’s negligible minions, almost all fighters in the series outstrips his meager power level of 1200.
        However, just because his strength is little compared to future characters and his time in the story was short, doesn’t mean he wasn’t important. His arrival on Earth sets the stage for everything that came afterward. His ship landed on the planet, and he came out to survey Earth, apparently surprised that it still has life on it, and curses that “Kakarot” has failed in his mission. Whoever this Kakarot is, he seems to be who Raditz is looking for.
        He uses a device on his ear to track what he deems to be a large power, and ends up finding Piccolo. Piccolo is someone one following the story would expect to be strong- after all, his last role in the story was as Goku’s nemesis, who he just narrowly beat, and it has been a few years since then, so he likely has been training and getting stronger in the meantime.
        However, as Raditz approaches, Piccolo remarks that it is an incredible power, greater than his own or even Goku’s. And Raditz proves to be exactly that, someone so great that even when Piccolo attacks him with a powerful blast, the very most his strike did is singe a couple of hairs. Raditz is about to retaliate, but his device senses another power greater than Piccolo’s by a small margin, and he flies off, thinking this must be Kakarot.
        Once he arrives we see that this Kakarot is actually Goku, the main character of the series and a hero, the exact opposite of what Raditz expected him to be- a ruthless killer tasked with eliminating all life on Earth. He reveals that Goku is actually a member of the Saiyan race, and had been sent to the planet as a baby to exterminate it. Since he naturally refuses to do so now, Raditz swats Goku aside effortlessly and steal his son Gohan as a hostage, telling him that if he wants Gohan back he must start killing.
        Goku prepares to go after him, but it is obvious he doesn’t have anything resembling a chance. Raditz is simply too powerful; four times stronger, in fact. Goku plans to fight him anyway, but even with his friends helping him there is no chance of victory. However, Piccolo arrives and offers his own help, saying that working together they may have a chance, and he certainly won’t let Raditz destroy the world since that gets in the way of his own plans to kill Goku and take over the world.
        I think I will stop here to talk about a very good Nintendo DS game, Attack of the Saiyans. It is a JRPG where you play as the various protagonists and fight your way through to the final battles of the Saiyan Saga with Nappa and Vegeta. Surprisingly to me, the game starts long before Raditz’s arrival, and you do not even play as Goku until Chapter 4, where he battles Piccolo.
        Until that point, you have to play as Tien, Yamcha, and Krillin. When Goku arrives he is clearly stronger than the others stat-wise, and the game backs this up with the characters saying that only he can face Piccolo and stand a chance. Despite you spending the entire game powering up your other characters beforehand, Goku is a step ahead of them as soon as he arrives, as is Piccolo, giving you a clear indicator of how strong they are.
        When Raditz does arrive, you’re given control of Piccolo for the first time, and despite him having leveled up beyond where Goku was, it is instantly clear he cannot win. Raditz automatically dodges any blow you try to hit him with, and after a while the battle ends on its own when Raditz flies off to find Goku. Piccolo admits to himself that this guy is much stronger than he is, and it’s a good thing he left when he did. It’s one thing to see the characters say this in the show or manga, but it’s another thing entirely to feel the hopelessness they do when faced with an unstoppable foe.
        Of course, Raditz does show up in other games, but generally they do not capture the essence of this quite so well, primarily because most of them are fighting games, and one of the facets of fighting games is that while ostensibly different characters are stronger or weaker, in practice they have to be of similar strength, and all of them are capable of harming and defeating the other, even if they are difficult to do so.
        However, in different genres an impossible foe can happen, such as here by making Raditz dodge your blows, and making his own attacks much greater than what you can do. This carries onto the actual battle with him as well. As you might expect, he is more difficult than any battle that came before, and he actually fights less like the creatures faced before with a few set moves, and more like one of your characters, having named super moves and doing an absolutely absurd amount of damage.
        It should also be noted that attacks work differently here than in other RPGS- rather than a single strike, your characters unleash a flurry of weaker blows that add up to a large damage total when they attack. It is possible a strike or two can be dodged, and they can dodge as well. Raditz follows the same principle, delivering several blows, but each of his is likely much greater than one or several of yours.
        It should also be noted that despite the battle being two on one, he is perfectly capable of changing targets mid-attack, striking both of you at once with large energy blasts, and while Goku and Piccolo can deal out more attacks than he can, and combine their special moves into new combination strikes for even greater effect, they simply cannot defeat him by conventional means.
        Instead, the goal is actually to whittle down his massive 9000 health down to half, at which point Piccolo will gain the ability to use the Special Beam Cannon. After that he will start charging it, and will be unusable for several turns, putting Goku on duty protecting him with healing items and the like to stop Raditz from taking him out in the meantime. If he can pull off the attack Raditz will be beaten, but getting to that point is horribly difficult.
        It very accurately shows how much of a gamble the move is, and how desperate the entire battle is. Two people who were once mortal enemies have to team up to face an even greater threat, and even when they do it is made clear that they stand no chance whatsoever without Piccolo’s finishing move. Raditz outclasses them greatly in power, and the game makes sure you know it.
        So yes, Raditz was only in the story for a brief time, and after he dies he is dismissed by his allies as too weak to be worth reviving with a wish with the Dragon Balls, and in fact their minions the Saibamen are all just as strong as Raditz was- and by the time they appear all of the heroes have progressed to the point that they can defeat them one on one. In fact, after Raditz dies he is barely mentioned again in the story, and consequently he is also remembered pitifully by the watchers as well. However, I do appreciate that Attack of the Saiyans can bring back the emotions that he brought with him when he first appeared in a new, personal angle.

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