We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.

North America

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai

by Chris Martino - February 12, 2004, 4:20 pm EST


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.

Discuss it in TalkBack!


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 8 7 6.5 7 7

The character models are excellent, and the framerate is steady. Everything in this game is a great recreation of the anime series right down to the super-cool special attacks. It really does feel like you’re fighting in the cartoon, and for any fan of the series, that is a major accomplishment.


Featuring both music and voice acting from the series goes a long way in giving Budokai that authentic feel.


You won’t get frustrated from wrestling with the control scheme, as there are only four buttons used. Although it’s straight-forward, it’s also overly simple.


It’s a button mashing bore-fest. Even if you do take thirty minutes to master the controls, you can’t do much more than you could just by mashing. The story mode is nice, and really saves the gameplay from being a throw-away. You’ll get wrapped up in the story and continue on. Plus, even if you are mashing away, you can pull off some awesome moves.


The multiplayer mode will keep you entertained if you have a couple of fans in your group of friends. There’s a lot of unlocking to be done in this game, and it will take you a while to reach full completion. Also, if you love DBZ, you’ll probably play through the story mode more than once.


It’s pretty simple. If you love DBZ, you should own this game. Even with a passing interest in the series, Budokai can deliver some fun moments. Everyone else would be well advised to pass.


  • DBZ universe is presented in an accurate and appropriate manner.
  • Some of the fighting visuals are really, really cool-looking.
  • The story will keep you playing to see what happens next, even if you’ve seen the whole series.
  • As a fighting game, it’s a sub-par button masher.
  • Limited control scheme
  • Offers little incentive to really master the game
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Share + Bookmark

Genre Fighting
Developer Atari

Worldwide Releases

na: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai
Release Oct 28, 2003
jpn: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai
Release Nov 28, 2003
aus: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai
Release Nov 28, 2003
RatingParental Guidance
Got a news tip? Send it in!