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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi (PlayStation 2) artwork

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi (PlayStation 2) review

"As a Dragon Ball fan, I’m used to disappointment. I was disappointed that the first Budokai game was rather poor. I was disappointed with the crap anime with its childish themes and its horrible voice acting and I was even disappointed with those pathetically dubbed movies that they released over here; if you ask me that’s a hell of a lot of disappointment. However, the release of Budokai 2 for the ‘cube destroyed the majority of the after taste of that disappointment. I didn’t even..."

As a Dragon Ball fan, I’m used to disappointment. I was disappointed that the first Budokai game was rather poor. I was disappointed with the crap anime with its childish themes and its horrible voice acting and I was even disappointed with those pathetically dubbed movies that they released over here; if you ask me that’s a hell of a lot of disappointment. However, the release of Budokai 2 for the ‘cube destroyed the majority of the after taste of that disappointment. I didn’t even touch the 3rd game because of that horrible picture of SSJ4 Goku (as a TRUE fan, I despise anything to do with Dragon Ball GT) but with the release of this new Budokai Tenka’chi, I was certainly impressed with what it gave us.

BT refurbishes the basic style of the Budokai games, bringing back the basic modes that originals brought forth and built it from there. The basic fighting style has been slightly altered to make the act of “chi-gathering” and pulling off big ass special moves a lot easier. Characters have three finishing moves between them that can be pulled off if your “chi” level is high. You can even max out your “chi” by allowing three blue balls to charge up automatically (which can take up to thirty seconds) and allow charge up past the normal rate. In a state of euphoria, your character will be able to pull off some major bad moves, which will turn your opponents to cream. Instead of typing in a bothersome combination, you only have to hold down two or three buttons to blast your opponent away, which makes things a lot easier and also increases the intensity of a battle.

All of the battlefields have been completely enlarged and are full of objects that you can wreck with some major energy blasts. Characters can also fly freely throughout these large stages which, on one hand, leads to some interesting combat but on the other, can lead to players distancing themselves too far from each other, which leads to some tedious as you try to get close.

The story mode is a collective gathering of the three main stories from the series plus a few extra modes based on the lesser-known DBZ movies and the astoundingly pathetic Dragon Ball GT. Thankfully, the GT storylines are very brief and usually only revolve around one fight but the fact that they still lurk around is enough to deter the most hardened DBZ fan, while those that know little about the series will be unfairly caught up in a GT storyline and probably enjoy it.

You will play as a handful of different characters from the series and fight out some of the key battles. Each fight will have one of three objectives, which seem relatively straightforward:

1: Defeat the enemy! (simple enough.)
2: Defeat the enemy with your finishing move! (simple enough!)
3. Survive until the time runs out! (ah, well…)

Taking the more biased battles in the series (such as the Freeza/Vegeta pasting or my personal favourite, the Goku vs. Vegeta (in his Great Ape form) battle of the first story. These fights put you in the shoes of the underdog and force you to survive for a certain amount of time, usually about sixty seconds. Now, this may not sound like a long time but considering the fact that the enemy you are facing is (a: a lot faster than you (b: a lot stronger than you and (c: a lot more durable than you it becomes a different story all together. If you’re exceedingly lucky, you can simply hold down the block button and watch with joy as your opponent proceeds to attack you without even penetrating your blockade for the entire time. It gets harder and more tedious when you have to survive against stronger opponents for a period of two minutes or it can get even more annoying when you actually defeat the opponent (which I did when I was the chubby Djinn Boo) and have to restart the fight again.

The more enjoyable side stages have also been polished up, with old modes revamped and brand new ones added. The “Strongest Under the Heavens” tournament mode has gone through a great make over since my last experience. The ability to fly more freely over the level has made the chances of you getting knocked out of bounds less frequent but it also leads to some cheap tricks like flying over the forbidden ground and smashing your opponent down to earth. We are also given a rather dull survival mode where you must battle a series of opponents one after another, which serves little purpose but to keep you playing once everything in the other modes have been done and dusted.

One undeniable improvement that BT offers is its superb offering of characters (despite the putrid omission of my favourite character, Kaio-Shin), some of which have never seen the light of day in a DBZ fighting game before. Instead of being handed the two strongest fighter of the Ginyu Force, we get Gurd (who’s psychic powers make for some interesting play), Butta (an incredibly quick fighter) and the all-round Jheese. We get some welcome Dragon Ball regulars like Chaozu and the previously unplayable Cultivars and Cell Juniors, who a lot smaller than most fighters but can still pack a punch. Players can also unlock a handful of movie characters as well as many others by defeating them in the story mode.

It also offers almost all of the character forms, which have down been broken down to original categories instead involving one whole character. Although, this addition does suppress the way to a true DBZ battle, it saves a lot of chi charging and omits the fact that you have to worry about being degraded down after being demolished by your opponent. Instead of charging base Goku all the way to SSJ3, you can actually choose which form of him you want to be. This addition collectively adds all of the forms of the characters including all of Freeza’s and Cell’s various shapes and sizes.

Those who enjoyed collecting capsules and editing the skills of their favourite characters will be pleased to hear that the mode has been completely revamped. You can collect new moves and skills by winning matches in the story and Budokai modes and mix and match various skills to create some new ones with the fusion ability. This does sound cool but it unfortunately lacks a little creativity, so don’t expect to create any fantastic new moves. The majority of the fusion involves you matching items like the increase speed skill version 1 with it’s version 2 counterpart to create increase skill version 5. However, the ability to customise the moves of each character is certainly something that you can use to your advantage to help beef up some really powerful warriors. However, the time it takes to do this will be off putting and the entire mode will only serve as something to keep you hanging on for some more action, after you’ve beaten the story mode and mastered the Budokai.

Finally, we get an option to switch between the original voice actors and the rather poor dub ones. Thankfully, I’ll never have to listen to Goku’s goofy voice or Vegeta’s constipated groan again because I can hear the ultra-cool voices in Japanese. However, it works well for those who enjoy (Baha!) the poor American voices and dislike to hear constant incomprehensive nattering in Japanese, despite the subtitles. Also, some of the familiar music from previous games and the show has been incorporated into the game with style which makes for some rather quality and memorable listening, which is a big improvement for a game such as this.

TB will please most DBZ fans, despite it’s inclusion of those stale GT characters and stories. The new additions to the series are fairly credible but have some flawed execution, such as the large fighting environments and the survival fights in the story mode. Still, despite all of it’s good points, the game will do nothing for those who have no prior knowledge of DBZ but since the majority of people who will be purchasing it will ultimately be fans of the series already, this problem is slightly phased out. It remains as something that the fans will enjoy but will fail to impress the gaming majority. However, most fans won’t have that horrible feel of total disappointment that they were probably expecting.

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Community review by goldenvortex (November 07, 2005)

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