Review by ninakoru

Reviewed: 01/14/05

The first loyal Dragon Ball game ever. It's also a good fighting game??


AT LAST!! Now Dragon Ball Z fans finally got a decent dragon ball game to play with!! The game lives up to the series. But lets start from the beginning. Much people is not really happy with this new release. Fanatic DBZ followers claim that there are still lots of characters that doesn't appear as playable combatants. Another common whine is the way this game handles the GT series, with a few transformations, a character, and a short event related to the TV show.

This release really sticks to the series (and some movies). For instance you can find ANY of the player's ultimates on the films and the TV show. Nothing you will see or hear on this game will leave you indifferent if you are a fervent follower of the series. You can also get a true dragon ball feeling with energy clashes and the Dragon rush attack animations with its multiple resolutions.

Lets try to be more objective. As we are usually cursed with horrible Dragon Ball games, we are likely to see this game better than it really is. It's a great game but nothing outstanding to praise for.

Into the review:

First to the graphics: We will watch cartoonish manga graphics, so we cant compare them to the realistic graphics other games have. In order to have a solid point of view, I could say they have done a really a GREAT work looking at the show and the movies. On combats the movements are pretty smooth, and we can easily overlook lots of details about the scenario and the characters.

About the sound and music department: Most of the sounds have been directly ripped and mastered from the series, but the background music in a totally different story. Most of those melodies were carried from previous releases of DBZ: Budokai, but they are not the ones used on the series. It would have gave us fans a greater feeling.

The gameplay is not nothing new. After all is the third release. Basically is more of the same. Those who are new to the Budokai fighting games, will find out a great game to have fun with. It's much the classic fighting game, but with much more options and special situations to play with.

Lets analyse the fighting engine:

You have one button to kick, one to punch, one to guard and one to release KI or energy. Each button can be pressed alone, or hitting the right or left while pressing it to get a different move. You can easily concatenate four to six to quickly make fast short combos. With the guard button you are able to block attacks to receive less damage or to dodge attacks pressing up or down while hitting that guard button. Pressing left/right plus the energy button you are usually able to release the two special movements of your character.

Each time you hit your opponent (or you just gather energy) you will fill your energy bars. You have seven little bars to fill, the more bars, the more power and defense in combat. However, you can make a good use of this energy and use a few bars to teleport behind your opponent when he's just hitting your face. Also the two attack specials use one or two entire bars to work. You can continue a combo teleporting and hitting back up to 4 times. You can enter hyper mode, where you can perform your ultimate attack, a usually devastating attack that drain four or five KI bars. Another option is to enter in a "dragon rush", a special attack event that has nothing to do with skill.

There's the option to enter much more complex combos other than the classic four hits followed by a kamehameha, but there is where i think this fighting engine really fails. In order to perform complex combos, you have to input an exact chain of command, but with a PERFECT TIMING between each hit. Not only that, different opponents need different timings due to different recovery times and model sizes. Each punch or kick you press on the pad will represent one and only one hit in the combo, and there's no buffering between different combo chains.

This budokai release will also let you charge unblockable attacks, and then cancel them, not only to make fake attacks, but to chain combo strings. Another advanced way of teleporting is holding guard, you can start a combo behind your opponent instead of kicking him out to the other side of the screen.

About all the possibilities of this release:

Again we get the capsule system. For newcomers to the Budokai series, this system will let you to use special moves, increase certain characteristics or using objects in combat. Each character will dispose of seven slots, and in order to balance it out, some of the more powerful capsules need more slots for themselves.

You have the duel mode, to set up a classic versus match or to play a match against the computer.

You also get the tournament mode, some kind of play-offs where you can throw your opponent out of the scenario to get an instant win. Here you can get some money if you enter into the finals using only one player.

There's the dragon universe, in witch you can play story events for nine different characters. In the story mode you are able to travel flying over the DBZ world or in Planet Namek. Much like an old school rpg. Then you can enter different areas on the map where you can trigger an event, get a capsule, some money or a fight. Here you will unlock characters as you go through the history. As I said before, this game is very story-accurate. A truly great work at this department.

You can buy capsules at the with the money you get on other modes in the capsule shop. There's a percentage to show you how many different capsules you've got.


From my humble personal opinion, this game's not bad. The fighting engine is funny as a whole, but the complex combos need a hell of a lot skill and patience to perform. I would rather go for a simpler buffered combo system.

To the fans of the show and/or movies: This game is really accurate in story mode, sounds and graphics even for attacks, so this is the first good DB game I found so far.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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