Review by Knighthawk X
Does it beat Budokai 3? No. But it sure as hell is the next best thing.
Well, we waited how long for this damn game? A long time. A VERY long time. But personally, I think it was worth it. Aside from the fact that it adds almost everything from Budokai 1, and all of the new stuff in Budokai 2, we get a bunch of exclusives that weren't in the PS2 version. Mind you, Budokai 3 DOES have most of it... but still. This is as good as it gets on the Gamecube (until the updated version of Budokai 3 comes out in a year's time, anyways).
Storyline/Single Player: 6.5/10
Ehh... not too bad, not too good. If you don't know already, Budokai 2 drops the gorgeous cutscene-style single player mode in Budokai 1, and replaces it with a boardgame-style mode called "Dragon World". You take on the role of Goku, and play through 9 stages/boards on your quest to defeat Frieza/Cell/Majin Buu. On each stage, you (usually) pick up to 2 allies that join Goku. From there on, you move your characters around the board/map, collecting power-ups (that temporarily increase your attack & defense power for the duration of the stage), searching for the Dragonballs, and defeating the bad guys. Oh sure, it SOUNDS like a barrel of fun, but it isn't. Each character has a maximum HP of 5. Everytime they lose a fight, they lose 1 HP. In that sense, DW can drag on for a looong time.
Anyways, you usually have an objective on each stage. Aside from that, you can search for the Dragonballs. How does that work? Well, on each stage, you'll find a Dragon Radar. Once you obtain it, the radar appears in the bottom-left part of the screen, and an arrow appears, pointing in the direction of the Dragonball. If you eventually plop a character onto the spot where the Dragonball is, you can press X (to search/dig up the area), and add one Dragonball to your collection. If you miss a Dragonball on any given stage, then two will appear on the next stage (unless you have only one left to go). Since there's 9 stages and 7 Dragonballs, it's fairly easy to collect them all.
The other thing about Dragon World - it's the only way to unlock all of the hidden characters (except for 4 of them). Defeating certain enemies with certain heroes can unlock a certain character. For example, if you defeat Nappa with Tien, you'll unlock Yamcha. Or if you defeat Cell with Adult Gohan (on the last stage), you'll unlock Teen Gohan (from the Android/Cell Saga). Of course, there are MANY more than just that to unlock (and some hero/villain combinations required to unlock a character are quite bizzare).
If you have all 7 Dragonballs by the time you finish DW, you'll be able to summon Shenron, and he'll grant you one wish (similar to Budokai 1). You can wish for things such as Breakthrough Capsules to Fusion Capsules, and some other suprises that I won't spoil.
All in all, DW can be fun at times, and with a few improvements, it could be fun all the time. But since you have to play through DW over 30 times to unlock all of the Breakthrough Capsules, you'll learn to hate it. With a burning passion.
Amazing. Just... amazing. The most immediate change from Budokai 1 are the graphics. While B1 boasted some fairly impressive visuals, B2 goes all out with sharp, clean Cel-Shaded images. Shadows and lightings effects are superb, and the FPS rate is perfectly steady. The only quarrel I have is with a FEW of the character models. From certain angles, certain characters look a bit garbled/cramped, but luckily, that's few and far between. Overall, the graphics are as close as you'll get to watching the anime itself.
Budokai 1 boasted incredible music while watching the cutscenes AND while fighting. Budokai 2 tones it down quite a bit, but luckily, the developers left some tracks from Budokai 1, and that's pretty much what saves it from having the Mute button turned on while playing. The cast of the American dub returned to provide some new dialogue, although a lot of it is recycled from Budokai 1 (which isn't REALLY a bad thing).
Obviously, the defining feature of a game. And Budokai 2 pulls it off pretty damn well.
First of all, there's a hell of a lot of characters. Over 30, and that's not including Fusion characters (Vegito, Gotenks, ect.). As you should already know, each character has "Skill Capsules", which, when equipped, grant the user the said ability. These range from energy attacks (Kamehameha, Destructo Disc, Galick Gun, ect.), to physical moves (Super Dragon Fist, Nose Dive Crash, Zanku Fist, ect.), to Ultimate attacks (Super Spirit Bomb, Big Bang Attack, Super Kamehameha, ect.), to even support capsules (like Meditation, which lowers the amount of Ki you use, or Z-Sword, which raises your attack power). There's a lot of variety in the heaps of skill capsules available. Of course, you'll have to buy most of them from Bulma's Shop (with money you win from the World Tournament).
The fighting system is pretty standard. You have a Health Bar & Ki Gauge. You can raise your Ki to a maximum of 7 Gauges, and each ability usually takes a set amount of Ki to use (Kamehameha takes 1, Super Dragon Fist takes 3, Super Spirit Bomb takes 5, ect.). You also have the standard Punch, Kick, Block, and Ki buttons. You can string different combinations of buttons together to create combos, or enter the required combination of buttons to use an ability. A new feature added to B2 is powering up some abilities. When you use certain skills, you have to rotate both Control Sticks as fast as you can to increase the damage it inflicts. Some skills won't even be successful unless you roll the Control Sticks enough (such as Gotenks's Super Ghost Kamikaze Attack).
Aside from the actual fighting, there are quite a few modes of gameplay:
1.) Dragon World - The single player portion of the game, explained near the beginning of this review.
2.) Dueling - Pretty much a Vs. Mode, where you can fight a computer, or battle a friend.
3.) World Tournament - You can enter the World Tournament on three different difficulty levels to earn money, which allows you to buy capsules in Bulma's Shop. It's just a standard bracket-based tournament.
4.) Training - Here, you can either practice your fighting skills, or take on the role of Goten to learn the basics of the game
5.) Edit Skills - This is where you can outfit each character with skill capsules, and buy them from Bulma's Shop. You can also trade skills with a friend who has a Budokai 2 save on a memory card inserted into slot B.
6.) Options - Change the various settings within the game.
7.) (Secret Mode of Play!) - Once unlocked, you can play four different mini-games here, which can earn you skill capsules, and possibly four other suprises...
So the gameplay in Budokai 2 is excellent. If only we would have got an uprade or two from Budokai 3 (like the Teleportation, or Power Struggles), this would have been PERFECT.
I noticed that with Budokai 1, I got bored pretty quickly. Since B2 has a hell of a lot of new stuff, though, I'm finding that this'll last me much longer than B1 did. But I still stand by what I said about B1 (but a lot less than before); if you're looking for a fighting game where you'll still want to play it after two or three months, B2 won't satisfy you completely.
Buy or Rent? If you're not a Dragonball Z fan, I'd suggest renting it, as it may give you a bit of enjoyment (especially the big, flashy attacks). If you ARE a fan, however, go buy it. Now. I SAID NOW! Unless, of course, you have access to Budokai 3 for PS2.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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