Review by Shadow_Resident

"Best DBZ game EVER, has NO equal!"

Just pure gold, that's all I could say to describe Budokai 3. I've been a DBZ fan for a good number of years, played nearly all the games, and I must say that no game (not even SNES's Hyper Dimension or PS1's Legends) will be as good as this one. Atari and Dimps both really pulled through for us, literally taking all the good elements from the first two Budokais (minus the what-if fusions) and just came up with such a fabulous formula. Not to mention, the fabulous Saiyan Overdrive System. Anyhow, here goes my review:

Truly honestly breath taking, Budokai 3 takes Budokai 2's cell-shading and increases the beauty by 10 fold. Each and every character is perfectly detailed, right down to the auras. It honestly looks like your in the anime itself, the new arena landscapes are detailed just about perfectly with the awesome 3-D elements, and counting damaged arenas, we get 16 places to fight which are ALL fabulously designed. The graphics for the Dragon Universe mode when traveling around the "worlds", they're very impressive as the creators have made sure to detail basically every possible place when flying around.

Vastly improved upon since the previous two Budokais, and that's a huge understatement. Returning an element from the Final Bout PS1 game, death moves can now struggle if the fighters shoot at the same time, and it doesn't get any funner than battling it out in a classic DBZ beam struggle. Oh wait, yes, it does! Also new is the teleportations ability which adds a whole lot more fun and interest to the fights, and it gets as creative as pin-balling an opponent, not to mention the ability to actually FLY now (yes I said you can FLY during fighting, press back-back to dash and press up and you're air-bound). The newest addition is the rock-scissors-paper style system of "Dragon Rush", in which after entering the all new "Hyper Mode" and hitting the right impact, you can battle it out with your opponent in a battle where fatigue rests in the balance (plus some special moves can be accessed through it). And finally of course is the new Dragon Universe mode, in which you can literally fly around the world (not just Earth) in a fantastic appearance of "bukujutsu", which adds more of a RPG feel to the game as you cruise around interacting with different spots and people, and capable of leveling you're fighter's stats up (which can be done in Dragon Arena as well).

Brought to life in the all new "Dragon Universe" mode, you can select from 11 separate characters (Goku, Kid Gohan, Teen Gohan, Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo, Krillin, Tien, Yamcha, Uub, and even Broly) and play through each's own particular story arc, and it very much gets interesting considering the different ways they can be played out (Goku's alone can be ended 4 ways), however one bad downside is that they lack animated cut-scenes which were present in the first Budokai, and instead the plot points are signified with a comic styled appearance with the voice actors' talking and SFX in the background. This really would make the Dragonball story unfamiliar to anyone whom hasn't gotten to know too much about it, still the mode alone is just beyond fascinating to play, and at least every character can have 2 different endings in their story arcs, while of course others can have 3 or even 4 different routs. And may I say, you MUST play through this mode a good amount of times if you want all the characters and capsules, trust me, it's worth the time after getting EVERYTHING. Not to mention, something's can be downright sweet: SPOILER, for example being able to kill EVERY single member of Goku's family (even Chichi) in Broly's DU is just insane.

Pure goodness. We get brand new music for this particular game, returning music from Budokai 1, and some very nice other tunes. Also the sound effects are simply unrivaled, they are straight from the show and dead-on PERFECT! All the FUNimation voice actors come back to do their own respective parts in this game, and they do their jobs quite impressively. A major downside is that not all the comicy "cut-scenes" in DU are voiced, which makes it kind of less fun as it seems more stale and less alive, however what they do voice is pretty damn good. Oh, and keep your ears out for those beloved curse words, specifically Dabura's "hyper mode" phrase, and a couple surprises by Vegeta and Trunks in their memory recordings. Pretty much everything about the sound, 100% SUPERB!

We get some nice treats in Budokai 3, which I must say are very interesting. The all new digitally animated opening by Toei is by far my favorite, perfect animation to a cool song. Also in the "Dragon Universe" mode, you may notice there's an area labeled "Bonus's", which contain some nice extras for the people whom (like myself) have attained a 100%. There's the memory capsules which hold audio archives for EVERY single character in Budokai 3, including the fusions and sub-characters in DU. Some people may also find it a bit strange that almost all the recordings sound from different DU modes other than the available 11, well that's because they most likely are, evidently Atari had been shooting to make DUs for all the fighting characters but probably due to time and disc space, they had to limit it to 11 characters, which isn't too bad at all in my book. There's also a database area with story recreation recordings for memorable moments in DBZ/GT, 20 separate places to be exact. And finally, are the special "Baba Crystal Ball movies", in which you get two short intros to Budokai 2's opening: 000 contains the original opening with Japanese lyrics, and 001 contains the American version with no lyrics, now (outside the What-if fusions) no-one really has any reason to keep Budokai 2 anymore.

By far, perhaps the BEST Dragonball Z game yet. 38 characters, 5 fusions, improved graphics, and over-all sweetness. The game play has been vastly improved, most notably with the new Saiyan overdrive system, which allows free flight, teleporting, specific physical moves (such as Piccolo's stretching arms and Trunks' and Dabura's swords), and the new Dragon Rush addition definitely gives a feeling like your in an actual episode. The new Dragon Universe mode allows you to play out the story with 11 characters, all of them worth playing at least 3 times each, and in an RPG elemented mode. Making returns from previous Budokais are the Duel, World Tournament (now with a Cell Games selection), and Practice (with a nicely improved training selection) modes. One of the many meats and potatoes has got to be the new Dragon Arena unlockable mode, in which a player can build up any character they want on a quest for many more unlockables, and even battle other online players by CPU. The what-If fusions are gone, but other than that, we get 7 new characters and all the previous Budokai 2 fighters, spanning from the Piccolo Daimou cast all the way to the Dark Dragons'. A definite must-get for any DB/Z/GT fan.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/23/05

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