The fighting game based on the wildly popular anime series hits the GameCube.
Based on the popular anime series, Dragon Ball Z:Budokai is a simple fighting game that will have you pulling off super-powerful moves, looking great doing it. Any fan of the Dragon Ball Z (DBZ) series will find much to appreciate in this game. Unfortunately, despite it’s namesake, Budokai just can’t stand up to other fighting games.
The controls are extraordinarily simple. Using only a punch button, kick button, guard button, and ki button, players are able to execute some visually stunning moves. The ki button allows you to release a small blast of energy, but using it in conjunction with other buttons will significantly increase the damage. While there is no jump mechanic, players can be knocked into the air, where they will stay suspended for a time. The fight will continue in mid-air until one player lands or is forced to the ground. Both the ki blasts and suspended fighting are staples of the DBZ universe and are well implemented. Sadly, that’s about it. The gameplay is really set-up for furious button mashing, which produces some excellent effects. With only a modicum of interest, one can completely master the fighting engine in a short time, greatly diminishing the challenge of solo play.
Aside from the lack of gameplay depth, DBZ: Budokai is really superb in all other aspects. The main single player mode will take you through the series’ storyline from beginning to end, integrating cut-scenes between fights to enhance the flow and draw you into the universe. Unlike most fighting games, which feature either an overly simplistic or overly convoluted storyline, Budokai tells its story simply and succinctly. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it may seem a bit choppy, but any fan will be overjoyed to actually play through the major events. Also, while most of the game revolves around the standard tête-à-tête fisticuffs, the tedium is nicely broken up by occasional mini-games.
There is also a tournament mode which will allow you to unlock additional characters, arenas, and even earn money. Money can be used to customize your fighters and purchase new moves. The practice mode is pretty standard and will allow you to hone your technique, although you won’t need to do too much honing. Finally, there is a survival mode which follows the underpowered character, Hercule, in his quest for domination. Of course, Budokai also features a multiplayer mode, allowing you and a friend to pummel each other in an all out mash-fest.
The real highlight to the game is its presentation. Every character is an excellent recreation of the cartoon, and all the clothing and environments are accurately represented. The fighters move smoothly which is a must for the DBZ license, and the voices are done by the actors from the series. All of this combines to create a dream come true for DBZ fans, and they will be able to overlook the limited gameplay.
This is a poor fighting game with some interesting and cool-looking moves. Gamers have become accustomed to lack-luster games based on other media, and from the gameplay perspective, Budokai is no different. However, the game pays special attention to the DBZ universe and really nails it on the head. Although it was originally released on PlayStation 2 nearly a year ago, fans of the series that missed out on this game would be foolish not to pick it up.