Despite being nearly as popular as Pokémon, Mickey Mouse, and sliced bread, the hit Japanese anime Dragon Ball Z has been woefully under-represented in the gaming arena. Other than some mediocre Game Boy titles, a super-rare (and super-crappy) PS1 game based on the Dragon Ball GT series1, and a really old 8-bit Nintendo game (it’s called Dragon Power–rifle through the used-game bins for it), fans of the fireball-filled show have been left hanging. Luckily, Budokai gives ’em exactly what they’ve always wanted: a fun, frantic fighting game that completely captures the unique spirit of the show.
In fact, playing through the single-player Budokai game looks and feels like playing through the cartoon. If you’re gaga for Goku, you’ll be in heaven. Plot-wise, the game chronicles three of the show’s giant story arcs: the Saiyan, Namek, and Android sagas. The story lines come to life through oodles of lengthy real-time cinemas voiced by the show’s actors. Although the flood of cut-scenes threatens to engulf the experience, the actual fighting engine isn’t bad, offering punches, kicks, throws, fireballs, and killer combos. The game teaches you new moves with each successive fight.
Realistically, this isn’t quite on par with the likes of Virtua Fighter or Soul Calibur, but it’s surprisingly playable. A must for DBZ fans. Everyone else, try it first.
Rel: Available Now
GMR: Check It Out — 7/10
Better Than: Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout
Not As Good As: Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Wait For It: …Soul Calibur II