Bulma is a Playable Character
in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3
This was quite possibly the biggest rumor going around the fan community during the PS2 generation. With in-game screen shots, movie clips, DVD extras, cheat devices… it is no wonder this rumor reached such monumental proportions.
A month or so before the game was released, we at Kanzenshuu (at the time still Daizenshuu EX) asked Steve Simmons (FUNimation translator for the Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT TV series as well as several of the video games) if there were any “extra” hidden characters that fans had not unearthed the existence of yet. He informed us that pretty much everything was out of the bag, with the exception of Bulma possibly being playable in some sort of capacity (even he was not 100% sure, himself). It was left at that until the game was released.
As with the previous two games in the series, Budokai 3 was actually first released in North America, with the third game coming in November 2004.
Almost immediately, fans noticed Bulma’s presence in the 11th stage (of 12 total) in the game’s “Training” mode. As part of the training stage, and complete with an in-game character model, Bulma teaches you how to use capsules. She does not respond to attacks, and does not so much as move in any way (other than the standing animation). You can sidestep around her to confirm that there is indeed a complete in-game model, however.
Soon after, we managed to rip some audio files from the game. Contained on the disc is a collection of all of the World Tournament announcer’s “name-calls”; before a match the announcer will say, for example, “Goku versus… Vegeta!” Contained within this batch, at the very end, was “Bulma versus…!” and “Bulma!” (present as “ADX_USA_4532.adx” and “ADX_USA_4533.adx”).
So we have an in-game model and a character announcement. What else is there?
Along with the North American “Collector’s Edition” version of the game came an extra bonus video DVD entitled Behind the Screams. The DVD contains interviews with most of the FUNimation voice actors, including several scenes with Tiffany Vollmer (the FUNimation voice actress at the time for Bulma) performing various fighting sounds and noises into the microphone. Logically speaking, it does not make sense to record a series of in-game character voices for a character that is not going to actually be playable in the game, so that seemed like something.
We have an in-game model, character announcement, and voice actress footage. What else is there?
As a little more time passed, fans were able to come up with Codebreaker / Action Replay codes for the PlayStation 2 game that would unlock every capsule in the game… including, apparently, ones that were never finished. It is possible to view the “Bulma” capsule with these codes, which reads the same as any other character capsule (“Bulma be used in Duel, Tournament, and Practice Modes. Can be played when acquired!”). Sadly, however, Bulma does not actually appear in the character selection wheel, even with this capsule code activated.
The Japanese version of the game came out a few months later in February 2005. It contains a few bonus materials such as new unlockable costumes for Goku (with a halo), Piccolo (Demon King Piccolo), and the future version of Trunks (long hair with armor).
After the Japanese version’s release, some fans claimed to have been able to get further than the American version’s glitches (a showcase of merely the Bulma capsule) and actually obtain a semi-playable Bulma.
The first person to get this far seems to have been dsxgate, posting on the GameFAQs Budokai 3 forum. dsxgate claimed that they were not entirely sure of the process, but it seemed to involve a combination of Action Replay codes (mostly involving free capsules in the shop) and obtaining a complete 100% unlocking of every single last thing in the game (including all level 99 “Dragon Universe” characters). Others have claimed similar results with similar requisites, but only dsxgate actually provided two movie clips to show this.
Via these combinations of glitches, Bulma’s capsule appeared for purchase as the very last item. When obtained, Bulma appeared as a third costume for Videl (similar to the other new actual costumes in the game, such as Piccolo-Daimaō for Piccolo). Since Bulma appeared as a costume for Videl, the voice used is not Hiromi Tsuru (the original voice actress for Bulma), but instead Yūko Minaguchi (Videl’s voice actress). Bulma was able to fly, but seemed to only have two attacks (which are also Videl’s), and while she can perform “Dragon Rush,” she did not have an ultimate attack.
We at Kanzenshuu were able to confirm the same list of character announcements, similar to the ones present in the American version of the game, appear in the game’s audio files spoken in Japanese — the very last ones included are “Buruma-senshu tai…!” and “Buruma-senshu!” (present as “ADX_JP_4532.adx” and “ADX_JP_4533.adx”).
An incredibly popular sub-group of fandom grew around the game dedicated to using Action Replay / Codebreaker codes to reassign character models/skins onto other characters. Fans at the time were able to dip into the character models for Freeza in his hover chair and Bobbidi, and since then full-game customizations have been released that modify the entire cast of playable characters.
Some of the Pro Action Replay V2 codes to try on your own, as recorded on our forum back in February 2006 by reader AceSharp, include:
^ This needs to be activated all the time. If it isn’t, then the following codes don’t work.
^ This code replaces Videl with Bulma. You can’t switch between the costumes for some reason.
Freeza in his Hoverchair
^ This one replaces Freeza’s regular colour scheme with him in his hoverchair.
^ This code replaces Gotenks with a Kamikaze Ghost (yeah, you can actually fight as one!) You can get a Super Saiyan 3 Ghost by transforming, and a Super Boo Ghost by transforming into what would normally be Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks for some reason.
So what is the final verdict? Quite frankly, we really do not know. All signs seem to point to the fact that Bulma was absolutely intended to be used as a playable character in the game (first in the European/American release, and then again in the Japanese version):
- The translator for the English version of the game seemed to think there was more to the story
- A character model was created and can even be viewed in the game’s training mode
- There is a character-unlock capsule for her that can be acquired in the game, though it does not actually unlock anything
- The tournament announcer has two lines recorded for the character — for her to be used to fight with and against — both in English and in Japanese
- The English voice actress for the character recorded fighting noises
For some reason or another, it seems as if Bulma-as-a-playable-character was just never completed. To this day, there are no official codes or strategies for “unlocking” Bulma without the help of a cheat device.