"I am content."

Dragonball Z: Budokai was a major disappointment; only the most hardcore of hardcore Dragonball Z fans could look at it and say: “Boy that sure was fun!” It pushed forward some innovative ideas about how a 3-D Dragonball game should be played but it ruined it by dropping these glass ideas on jagged rocks. However, we can now put those troubles behind us and play Budokai 2, a game that fixed all of the originals problems with a few swift strokes. The fighting was more interactive, the story mode was more tactical and all of the problems the tournament mode had been fixed. On top of that, the game gave us a fantastic selection of fighters, which span from the beginning to the end of the Dragonball Z story, as well as many new character forms.

Those who waited and purchased the Gamecube version will be delighted to find a host of extras that were not even featured in the PS2 game. This version gave us brand new backgrounds to duke it out in, new skills for characters and a range of battle-damaged costumes. Just like before, the game has a complete Japanese cast, featuring the voice actors from the original shows. It gets rid of the awful FUNimation cast on the American dub and gives us the authentic character voices. True Dragonball fans will piss themselves with delight whereas those new to the series may find this addition a tad annoying. If this is you, then get the PS2 version and stick with your crappy American voice actors. I would rather listen to gibberish than poorly voiced actors, but I am an anime fan so this concept may not bother you at all.

The game uses the same control scheme, as before, it is still as annoying. The basic four punch and energy blast combo for your special moves are here but also have a new quick way to pull off specials. Instead of chugging out that combo, you can press forward and the energy button to pull of Goku's Kamehameha, Vegeta's Gyarikku- Ho and Piccolo's Demon flash (Damn, no fancy Japanese name to show off!) Despite this improvement, the old problems emerge like the annoying combinations and button bashing attacks that really dominate the fight. You may remember the meteor shower techniques from before; they are a series of Ki blasts from an aerial fighter to an unconscious one on the ground. Here, we can rotate the analog stick to fill up a power meter; if you get it to the top before the time runs out, your meteor shower will contain a final blast, sending the dazed opponent flying across the floor. You can even deflect large projectiles by using a similar system, something that first game forgot to add.

Instead of showing you cut scenes and immediately throwing you in a series of pre-designed fights, the Dragon World mode throws you into a game of chess-like proportions. You move Goku and a selection of allies, the size and selection grows as you continue through the game and unlock more fighters. You're stuck with Piccolo for now. You can move your characters once to a different area on the field, following a selected path. Items such as skills, upgrades and a health regenerator are scattered across the area. If you collect the Dragon Radar before one of your foes do, you'll be able to locate the Dragon Ball of that world. The paths will be full of primary enemies, mainly Cultivars and Cell Juniors which will die in one kill, the main enemies need to be defeated two or three times.

Each character has five green blocks next to him; these indicate that fighter's health. If the boxes are dark green, then it means that they are empty, to fill the boxes you have to make your way to Dende's health stop which will restore one bar for you. When you defeat a fighter, one of his bars will drop and he will go flying down an opposite path. This will make him dazed for a while, fighting them when they are dazed allows you to take two bars of health from them. If you time it right, you may be able to kill a major enemy in two battles, it is a shame that they fight like demons in the stunned state. There are a variety of other items on the map as well, Mr Popo will use his carpet to teleport you to another area, the Dragon Radar will allow you to find the Dragonball quicker and the peach will give your character another try. You will get a game over if Goku is completely defeated or if you fail the mission objective.

Unlocking secret characters can be quite tedious. On the first world, you fight Raditz and Nappa but you only unlock Raditz when you've beaten them both. To get Nappa, you have to unlock Vegeta, restart Dragon World and defeat Nappa with Vegeta. It is a little tedious because you will have to play through this mode about three times so you unlock all of the characters for other modes. The game is not that long and you could probably finish it in a few hours. However, it makes up for this by knocking the difficulty up a lot. It abuses the character-unlocking scheme at the end when you have to defeat the final form of Maijin Buu (the hardest guy in the story) with Mr. Satan (the weakest guy.) I'm glad it's to unlock Videl, a really crap character.

The Budokai mode uses the same functions but is massively improved. The ring is a lot bigger, which thins out the formerly massive chance of being thrown out of the ring. The threat is obviously there but it's not as frequent. Last time around, you could get him three times and be eliminated. It gives you a bigger chance of winning and is very enjoyable! When was the last time that happened in a DBZ game, probably never. We have the three basic modes of Budokai: novice, adept and expert, each having more rounds than its smaller brother does. We also have the excellent addition of the Cell Games mode, a no-holds barred contest where you can use fusion in the fight, a move that was previously banned in the other Budokais. You can win matches by knocking the foe out of the ring or beating them the old-fashioned way. Wining a tournament, or coming runner up will give you a wad of cash to spend at the Skills shop, where you purchase unlockable skills and stages.

You can find skills in the Dragon World mode or you buy them with your tournament winnings at the Skills Shop. You can purchase new moves, new levels, the new settings for Budokai mode and general upgrades. Many skills can only be used in specific characters so you cannot completely edit a character's move list but you can fill it with their exclusive moves and a few upgrades. If you collect items such as jackets or armour it will increase the defence of that character or you can collect special golden ultra-rare capsules, which are a lot of money.

You can also fuse certain characters together buy purchasing the skill from the shop. You can fuse with the potarra earrings or the fusion dance. If you give a character the ability to fuse, they will not be able to pull off anything else. You will have to start by typing in the fusion combo straight away, which will attract your fusion partner, but things get tricky here. If you play as Goten or Trunks, your partner will appear and begin to do the fusion dance. A series of buttons will appear at the top of the screen and you'll have to press them in order. If you do it correct, you will have the crushing power of Gotenks (with unlimited energy) in your hands. However, if you fluff it up, you will get a fat mutated version that cannot fight at all.

With the potarra fusion, you can create Vegito out of Goku and Vegeta. After you type in the correct combination, Goku will shout to Vegeta and throw the earring towards him. You will have a few seconds to press A before your opponent leaps up, snatches the earring from the air, and crushes it to bits. If you do it right, you'll be automatically fused together, and you don't have to worry about the button combination. The developers decided to throw in a few new fusions that were not in the manga at all, it may aid the game length but for the fans, it's not exactly the best thing. We can now fuse TenShinHan and Yamcha to get “Tiencha” and we can fuse Goku and Mr. Satan. These characters are hard to unlock but they spoil the game for the hardcore fans. These additions were dumb and kind of destroyed the fun of fusion; it pushed the feature too far. There is also a fusion between Frieza and Maijin Buu and a one with Cell.

Scratch that. It really crapped this feature up. I mean, what is this crap? Looks like the creative ass fluff that spawned the crapfest that was DRAGON BALL GT!!!

No, thank you.

Visually, the graphics abandon the polygon approach and jump ship to the ever-popular cel-shading boat. Each character looks like a great cel-shaded representation of his/her/ its anime self. The only main problem was the fact that many character animations were re-used a lot when they pull off similar moves, throwing away any character's individuality and personality. The use of cel-shading looks nicer than the horrible polygons from before but the same “drone” effect in the fighters remains the same.

The tunes are generic as well, only a few truly stand out from the pot of mediocrity. The remixed version of the Japanese theme song, which featured in the last game, is back in its full glory. It'll be treasured by fans that watch the Japanese version of the show but will be ignored when fans of the dub version or Dragon Ball strangers listen to it. Out of the tunes, the only one that stands out from the crowd is Red Ribbon base track, which sounds awesome, a smooth tune with an action beat and a peaceful tune. Apart from this, the music tends to be standard action tunes that fit quite well with the gameplay but won't make you hum them in the shower, unlike the other one.

Budokai 2 is definitely worth a purchase for fans of the series. It follows the whole story well and offers a great range of characters from the entire series. The controls are a little sluggish but the amount of new additions simply destroys all of the problems that the original had. The story mode is more interactive, tactical and repayable and the Budokai mode has the majority of its problems fixed. The ability to customize your favourite character is fantastic and the ability to fuse is a huge improvement as well, despite the fact that Dimps decided to be “creative” and add some really crap ones in. It is not something that regular gamers will enjoy but it is a welcome treat for Dragonball fans that are sick of being disappointed.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/15/05


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