It’s no Clash of Ninja 2, but DBZ: Tenkaichi Budokai 2 is a solid game in its own right.
When genres that would be easily augmented by the Wii remote come to mind, fighters aren’t usually on top of the list. Sure, the pointer seems like a great fit for an FPS, and the tilt sensors are effortlessly molded to a racing game, but with so few buttons, how can a remote and nunchuck setup properly capture the combo-heavy gameplay type that fighting games are known for? Well, the first attempt, Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Budokai 2 is out, and honestly, it’s not half bad.
Let’s get something straight right now: the Budokai series is not for hardcore players. Being a licensed property, it’s aimed mostly at fans of the anime, and as such, it revels in its own simplicity. Thus, it fits into the Wii arrangement rather nicely. The A button acts as your martial arts button (punches and kicks), B fires simple energy attacks, and Z allows you to power up for more energy. The more complex moves are pulled off via button and motion combinations. Pressing C and jerking upwards permits you to fly, for example. To pull off the anime’s signature attacks, hold down B and Z, and then send your on-screen cursor in one of several ways (for example, to execute Goku’s Kamehameha, you pull back and then push forward quickly with the nunchuk and pointer, while Piccolo ‘s Special Beam Canon is pulled off by sending your cursor upwards off the screen, and then pulling it back to the center). It may sound complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it actually feels pretty natural. And if you just can’t make the transition, the game supports a traditional layout via the Classic or GameCube Controller.
Although the control scheme is the most unique facet, BT 2’s most alluring feature is undoubtedly its monstrous amount of content. With over 160 characters to play as (although it should be noted that transformations, while attainable in-fight, can be picked from the outset and are counted as different fighters), you can set up a match between pretty much anybody, from the instantly recognizable Super-Saiyan Goku to the obscure Grandpa Gohan. Furthermore, the Story Mode covers nearly everything from Dragon Ball Z onwards, including most of the movies and even the GT sequel. Completing every mission will take at least 7-10 hours, and since you can decide your difficulty with each mission, you can go at whatever pace is comfortable for you.
It doesn’t end there, though. Once you’re done the story, there’s Tournament Mode, Ultimate Battle Z (where you fight through levels of characters, called "paths"), training missions, and even a customization mode, where you can use items and supplements collected in the story mode to beef up your characters. Online play isn’t present, but you can trade codes assigned to your custom characters, and as such, you can bring your souped-up Super-Saiyan 4 Gogeta wherever you go.
It’s probably a good thing that’s the case, too, because online play simply wouldn’t work, judging by the multiplayer mode. Since BT 2 doesn’t take the normal fighter perspective (the camera is placed behind the characters so that they’re able to explore the maps like an adventure game), adding another player takes a gigantic toll on the frame rate, to the extent that it’s nearly impossible to play a regular round.
The presentation is hit-and-miss. The cel-shading is done reasonably well – characters contain tons of details, and effects look great (although they still pale in comparison to the sketch-like style of Budokai 3). Unfortunately, cut-scenes based on the in-game engine are laughable in both their choppiness and simplicity. As for the audio, if you’ve got a high tolerance to cheese-rock, you won’t mind.
Although it’s got its faults, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is a great deal for fans of the series, and with so much content, even a casual fighting fan can get some enjoyment out of it. With higher production values and some online play, it could’ve easily become a great party game.