Review by RurouniOtaku

"Not the best fighting engine, but a worthy tribute to the series"

Dragon Ball Z games have at best been...average...throughout the ages, with the exception of DBZ: Hyper Dimension for the SNES. Budokai is beginning to show a bit of improvement, but still cannot live up to the legacy of HD.

Graphics: 7/10

Nothing overly special here. Your typical cel-shading. It captivates the feel of the series very well though, and works excellently for it's purposes. The animation is also nothing impressive, but once again it does what it needs to. The intricate Dragon Rush attacks, and Ultimate Moves of each character, although a bit long-winded, reminisce of the show's incredibly fast-paced action. It gives you a nice feeling when you pummel the crap out of your opponent with one.

Sound: 7/10

The voices are straight out of the show (which isn't always a good thing), and have no problems in themselves. The music is better then I expected, and is nowhere as bad as the **** that the dubbers have stuffed in the translations. The original DBZ had excellent music...Not repetitive rock tunes...This soundtrack I would see is a compromise, and I like it.

Gameplay: 6/10

Alright now, people are definitely overrating this game's fighting engine. You have 3 attack buttons: punch & kick (which aren't really different), and ki. The ki a long range attack and it (obviously) takes away from your ki gauge. Your Ki gauge consists of 7 levels, and depending on what form of your character you are using your "baseline KI" will be higher. Your baseline Ki is the amount of Ki you can automatically regenerate without doing anything special.

Some of your defensive maneuvers include guarding (pressing X), dodging (time X with your opponents attacks), and a new addition teleporting (pressing forward and X as your opponent attacks). Although your more at risk of taking damage then if you were to attempt the other maneuvers, teleporting allows you to dodge your opponent's attack, and get a free hit that'll knock them away.

On the offensive side, for certain characters if you have the proper capsule equipped (more on this later), and enough ki, you can transform into a more powerful state that gives you more attacking power, and a higher baseline Ki. Each character also has Death moves that consist of a straight forward Ki blast (activated by circle forward), and typically another Ki blast, or a combo move of some sort (circle back). These moves also have other inputs that allow them to be done at the end of the pre-programmed combos (once again more on this later). The pursue attack is a universal move that allows you to knock your opponent back and forth across the screen continuously after you knock them back with a powerful attack. All characters can also acquire an Ultimate Move which requires a power struggle between the two fighters, and if the defender wins he'll take less damage, where as if the attacker wins even more damage will be done.

Yet another gameplay feature is the Dragon Rush. By going into Hyper Mode (which is required to do Ultimate Moves and Dragon Rushes alike), and doing a pursue attack, a Dragon Rush will be triggered. It's a powerful series of attacks, that require both the defender and offender to press a button. This happens 3 times. If the defender presses the same button as the offender then the Dragon Rush will be canceled with a counter attack (or just an evasion) by the defender. Other then to cause massive damage the Dragon Rush can be used to lower your enemie's fatigue which allows Ultimate Moves to do more damage.

Now everything so far might sound well and good...but really it's not. All the characters are pretty much the same. Sure their basic combos and moves may look different but they pretty much serve the same function. Some have transformations...Some don't...Still not that different.

My main complaint with the game's combat engine is that the combos require no skill (punch, punch, punch, punch...) and the combat itself is rather repetitive due to overly similar characters. However this is coming from a fighting game enthusiast and is to be expected. The game is definitely fun, but the engine is rather shallow, and seems to try to cover it up with lots of unnecessary new features.

The game's skill system revolves around equipping characters with skill capsules that contain their moves, and also provide support items. This helps to make the game a bit more strategic. You can risk it, and fill up all of Goku's slots with the Vegito fusion which will either make him incredibly powerful, or screw him over for the rest of the match with no skills if you fail. You could also load him up with transformations up to SSJ4, and a super powered Kamehameha and beat down your opponent with raw power. You could also just load him up with support items and play as a defensive tank. This capsule system adds a nice touch to an otherwise shallow combat engine.

Buy or Rent?: To actually 100% beat the game it would take several rentals unless you play it alot. Rent it to see if you like it then buy it.

Overall: All in all, I would say Budokai is a worthy tribute to the anime. It might not have the greatest engine, but if your a DBZ fan you'll like it anyway.If your looking for a deep fighting game look elsewhere (I would suggest Street Fighter Anniversary Collection, Guilty Gear X2, Guilty Gear Isuka, and Capcom Vs SNK 2).

I fail to see why this game is getting 10s however...It's a good game...But it's far from great.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/24/04

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