Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero rocked cinemas this past summer and it blew fans away with its excellent treatment of Dragon Ball heroes Piccolo and Gohan. Fans were worried about the computer animation being able to capture Akira Toriyama’s iconic art style, but it was unfounded.
It’s no surprise, though, as Toriyama’s art has been a part of video games for decades. Computers have had plenty of time to adapt to his sensibilities. Some games even do it beautifully, pulling it off with style in aplomb. When Toriyama contributes to a game, audiences know it’ll be something special.
7 Gyrozetter & Fantasian (2012 & 2021)
In terms of contributing to games, Toriyama is mostly a character designer. This role can be major, but he’s also guest designed on a few projects. His role in the games Fantasian and Gyrozetter are both minor, but he designed a diorama for a contest for the JRPG Fantasian, which became the subject of one of the game’s level packs.
It’s impressive that he won a contest, but he ultimately had a minor role in development. His role in the card collecting game was similarly minor, but he got to utilize his strengths. He designed the fighting robot Beeman 500SS based on his work designing vehicles in his manga Dr. Slump.
6 Tobal (1996 – 1997)
There were a lot of great fighting games released in the 1990s. 1996’s Tobal No. 1 did its best to stand out with character designs by Akira Toriyama. While Dragon Ball was finally taking off in the west, it didn’t give the series the boost developers were hoping for. The sequel, Tobal 2, was only released in Japan before the series faded into obscurity.
This isn’t to say there’s nothing appealing about Tobal as a fighter. The game ran faster than most other 3D fighters and had dashing and jumping. Unique was its Quest Mode, which mixed the fighting gameplay with a dungeon crawler as players would explore minds on the titular planet. The game stood apart but didn’t leave a major cultural footprint, unfortunately.
5 Jump Series (1991 & 2019)
Shonen Jump is the biggest manga magazine in the world and Toriyama’s work is part of that. So when Jump celebrates its franchises in video games, he’s often asked to headline. Characters from all of his manga, of course, make appearances, but he’s also done character designs for game-exclusive characters.
This began with his design for Dark Raid in the game Famicom Jump II: Saikyō no Shichinin. Most gamers, these days, probably remember his work on the game Jump Force. He designed a suite of original characters connected to that game’s crossover setup. This included the ultimate final villain, the insidious Prometheus.
4 Blue Dragon (2006 – 2009)
Blue Dragon was a game that marketed itself heavily on having the art style of Akira Toriyama. Despite this, it actually was created by the creator of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, with Toriyama assissting.
It was pushed hard as a multimedia franchise with comic and anime adaptations of the game. But the game series itself only produced three entries before fizzling out. Like with Tobal, this wasn’t the fault of the game, but it was a traditional turn-based RPG at the time a lot of RPGs were moving away from the style. Reviewers said that despite the game being solid, it had nothing new or unique to offer. After two more sequels on the Nintendo DS, the series fizzled out completely.
3 Dragon Ball Expanded Universe Games (1986 – 2020)
Dragon Ball has a ton of video games, but Akira Toriyama hasn’t been directly involved in a lot of them. The first DB game he was involved in was Dragon Ball: Shenlong no Nazo in 1986, where he did some character design. It would be 32 years until he did another design for a Dragon Ball game in Dragon Ball FighterZ. He created Android 21, who would also cameo in Super Hero.
After this, his work in the Dragon Ball games became more common. For the Dragon Ball Legends game, he designed two characters in Shallot and Zahha. For Kakarot, a video game retelling of the manga, he created a full new Ginyu Force member in Bonyu. All of them are neat, but none of them have jumped into canon besides Android 21.
2 Chrono Trigger (1995 – 1999)
Chrono Trigger is a classic gaming gem and one of the best turn-based JRPGs of all time. While Dragon Ball had taken on a dark tone around the time the game came out, Trigger captures the simpler joy in Toriyama’s art style. Characters are joyous with big expressive faces, and the world is lavishly detailed. Toriyama also did background design on this game in addition to character design work.
The game heavily involves time travel, with the protagonists traveling to many eras. This lets Toriyama branch out with his design work, as he designs a world through the ages. Technologic futures, distant prehistory, and cold ice ages are linked by an aesthetic throughline. It’s fun and charming to play with an epic soundtrack.
1 Dragon Quest (1986 – )
For a large part of the world, the go-to Akira Toriyama series with “Dragon” in the title isn’t Dragon Ball but the long-running series he teamed up with legendary designer Yuji Horii to create: Dragon Quest. The series began when Dragon Ball was still in its infancy and quickly became larger than the manga in Japan. While Z would propel the manga to worldwide popularity, for a while, this is what Toriyami was known for.
He designed the characters for every mainline entry in the series, which contains 11 entries as of this writing. He’s also created tons of iconic character designs like the Slime, which rivals Pikachu in its recognizability. The series has tons of spin-offs and mostly focuses on delivering a fantastical adventure experience. It might not have the complicated plots of its contemporaries, but sitting down to play a Dragon Quest game is sure not to be boring.
NEXT: 10 Best Games In The Dragon Quest Series According To Metacritic