Review by Blood Knight
"DBZ Budokai 3 proves that 3rd time's the charm."
DBZ Budokai was one of the best DBZ fighting games to date. Budokai 2 was a moderate improvement, but a lot of people will argue that it was a downgrade from the first. Now, Budokai 3 has come to the US, and the game has a lot more to offer than the previous games and it's quite possibly so far, the most authentic and moderately innovative fighter, both visually and mechanically.
First, let's start with the game modes. The Dragon Universe mode is a single player game, that takes on a more RPG-story like approach, that gave Budokai a more entertaining appeal than Budokai 2. You can pick from a pre-determined roster of characters, and raise them through a storyline resembling such in the DBZ universe. Once you start, you'll end up on a world map, and you'll be able to fly across it and find areas that contain items, battles and other things. After every battle, you get EXP for your character, and if they level up you get Z points, to which you can spend on their different stats.
Next is the Dueling mode. Here, you'll be playing a Vs. style mode that allows you to play against friends, or the CPU, using your acquired roster of characters and either their customized skill sets, or normal default uneditable sets. You can also change outfits using left or right on the D-Pad.
Then there's the Dragon Arena mode. Here, you can build your characters alternatively and fight other people's characters by inputting the passwords people get for their characters.
World Tournament mode is an emulation of the Tenkaichi Budokai tournaments in the DB/DBZ universe. You go through the whole tournament(minus preliminaries) and fight until you are the champion, in which you earn money for your victory. The rules are simple-Land past the boundaries of the ring, and you're disqualified.
Practice has two modes, Practice, where you can freely play around with characters, and Training, where you can go through specific chapters, outlining certain events in the DBZ universe, while teaching you the aspects of Budokai 3's fighting system. If you're new to the series, this is a great place to start.
Aside from the gameplay modes, there are many other things to note on Budokai 3. First of all, you'll notice how the character roster has changed. You get a lot more characters at the start compared to previous Budokai games, and you can also fight and play with other characters from the Z , Z movie and even GT universes, such as Bardock and Cooler. Also the capsule use system is different. Item capsules are used freely with a certain button combination, and other moves are done via the Dragon Rush(more on that in a minute), and other conditions.
There are also other additions. For example, some moves from character to character are unique, like Trunk's throw and charge attack consisting of slashing his sword, and other characters doing punch/kick combos instead of actual throws. There are also other gameplay mechanics added, some will be familiar to Dragon Ball GT Final Bout players. Starting with the power struggle, which allows two characters to struggle with their ki attacks if they happen to be shot towards their opponents at the same time.
The next one is the dragon rush. This a meteor style attack, which allows the player to dish out a continuous amount of damage through a state of hyper mode(which is used by pressing P+K+G+E). It goes through three stages, each requiring a button press. If the player presses the same button as the opponent, the rush will come to an end, and in some cases the opponent will retaliate. If you both press different buttons, you'll continue to dish out damage towards your opponent until it's over. Ultimate moves can also be dished out only if you win all three dragon rush rounds.
Another mechanic is the teleport counter. When you press the button combo for it, you'll evade the opponent's attack, and teleport behind them for a counterattack. Be aware though, that your oppponent can counter that with a teleport of their own. You can also follow up with a teleport attack by pressing E when you knock your opponent into an airborne state. You can abuse it, for a nice looking ping pong assault. Remember, that your opponent also can interrupt it. Another nice DBZ authentic feature is the close quarters evasion. This ability allows you to evade an opponent's attacks up close, while still keeping your current position. Good for initiating combos after a futile combo from your opponent. This technique does consume ki though.
And for the most part last, there's a fatigue system, that allows you to take advantage of your opponent's lack of ki reserve. This only happens when you fully deplete your ki, or from certain attacks like the dragon rush. All the old mechanics from the previous Budokais are intact for the most part, save for a few slight changes. The controls are also intact.
Aside from all this, the graphics look very close to the anime, and have very much improved from previous Budokais. Auras from your characters look very nice, and sometimes lighting and colors will change on that character depending on the aura they have(like Goku's Kaioken aura). DBZ fans will feel like they're actually playing the anime when they play this game. The game even has some fatihful arenas, like the innards of Buu, and the desert plains. The sound quality in the game is also very nice, from the show's voices, to the remixed and reused music. Various extras, capsules and such can also be gained from playing Dragon Universe and other modes and buying from the skill shop.
There are very few flaws that can be pointed out. Some may not like the fighting system, despite it being pretty good and also very faithful to the DBZ universe. Also, there can be some lag during fights, but it's very miniscule and if you don't concentrate on it, it's almost non-existant. Then there's the difficulty, such as the CPU being cheap at times.
Other than that, DBZ Budokai 3 is a very big step up from previous games, and even worthy of a checking out from casual fighting game fans who've been used to games like Tekken due to the extra layers of depth. This game is so faithful to the DBZ universe and so fun, people now have no excuse for not taking this fighting game series seriously.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/30/04
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