Dragon Ball Z Budokai
Game Info
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Animated Blood, Violence
The Good

• Deep, fun gameplay
• More than 20 characters to play as

The Bad

• Bland backgrounds
• Confusing story


If you haven't heard of the Dragon Ball Z phenomenon that has been sweeping the country by storm, then I ask you this - Where the heck have you been for the last several years?

With new DVDs coming out every week, action figures, poster and other memorabilia, the Dragon Ball Manga/Anime series has millions of fans across the world. Which isn't bad for a show that ended nearly a decade ago. With that being said, it's a shame the series hasn't had many good games that captures the essence of the show. Being a DBZ nut, I have tried almost every Dragon Ball title that has hit U.S. shore, and I've walked away from each I played unimpressed. And yes - I've even played the dreaded Dragon Ball GT Final Bout catastrophe.

On the side of graphics - Akira Toriyama's slick anime has been faithfully reproduced in 3D. This will be good news for DBZ fans - over 20 of their favorite characters look like they've been ripped right from the show. The bad side of this is the fact that Toriyama-san's backgrounds have always lacked detail, and you'll notice that you're fighting in a bland, secluded area - and there's almost nothing to interact with! But still, his famous character designs still look slick and are easy to look at. Some non-DBZers just may recognize his classic style from other games. Akira Toriyama is no stranger to video games, and has done work for titles like Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior in the US), and even Square's critically acclaimed Chrono Trigger. While the backgrounds are boring, fans will get a kick out of the game's graphics.

As for the sound department, it has all the Dragon Ball themes from the show, and the voice-overs are done by the same people who did the anime. I wouldn't have it any other way.

The story mode is very long by fighting game standards. It lasts about 3 hours, the whole way through which includes 4 of the Dragon Ball Z sagas - the Saiyan, Namek, Ginyu and Cell sagas. How they were able to cram it all into a 3 hour game? The world may never know. But beware for those who don't know much about DBZ - This is a mere summary of the rich plot, and it will leave you scratching you head in confusion when it's all over, while fans will love to revisit their favorite scenes and epic battles.

The gameplay is surprisingly solid. While a bit derivative from a lot of fighters like the DOA series, and Tekken, it's good when compared to other DBZ brawlers. I was amazed when I played the game with all of the characters - they are well balanced, and even some of the more obscure characters are great contenders. They also have their trademark moves, which you can pull off if your Ki Gauge (kinda like Marvel Vs. Capcom's ''Super Move'' bar) is full enough. With simple, easy to pull off special moves, you'll be throwing your Kamehamehas and Destructo Discs with relative ease.

With a simple four-button layout, this game isn't shallow and boring - it's deep enough to keep players going for a few weeks, You can upgrade moves by coveted ''Senzu Beans'' and beef up your fighters at Mr. Popo's skill shop, where you buy capsules with the game's currency called, ''Zenie''. You earn Zenie from battles and completing the Story Mode & World Tournaments.

There is a nice amount of extra stuff you can unlock also. Aside from the extra characters you unlock in Story mode, there are a bunch of side-quests featuring Cell, Vegeta, and Hercule. You can also unlock some characters that are not found in Story mode, these new characters are ultra cool, but you have to find them for yourself - I don't want to spoil anything.

When it's all said and done, this is worth the money of the Dragon Ball Z fans. It's hard to find a Dragon Ball Z game that's fun, fast, and enjoyable. DBZ nuts should savor this one. For every one else - it's a solid rental at best.

- - Grandlethal

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