Translations Archive

30th Anniversary: Dragon Ball Chōshishū –Super History Book–
(21 January 2016)

Video Games Selection – Pick Up! 04

Taking on a new challenge, at this revolutionary time comes a monumental series that strove to continue breaking the mold!

Making 3D aerial battles a reality!

Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! series1

This time, with not only the characters but also the battle stage going 3D, there was finally a fighting game that made it possible to engage in three-dimensional battles. The large roster was also one of its features, so the fact that you could now play as extremely minor characters became a talking point. The “What If” mode, unlocked by clearing specific conditions in Story Mode, was also well received.

Series Data

Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! (“Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi”)
• Gaming system: PlayStation 2
◦ Release Date: October 2005

Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! NEO (“Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2”)
• Gaming system: PlayStation 2
◦ Release Date: October 2006
• Gaming system: Nintendo Wii
◦ Release Date: January 2007

Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! METEOR (“Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3”)
• Gaming systems: PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii
◦ Release Date: October 2007

Memorial Interview: Ryō Mito
Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! series producer

“I tried really hard to surpass the players’ expectations in terms of the size of the character roster”

PROFILE: Producer at Bandai Namco Entertainment. He also worked on other games such as Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit and the Dragon Ball: Raging Blast series.

Uchiyama-san‘s Dragon Ball Z series had gone all the way to Dragon Ball Z 32, and since that third installment was the culmination of all of the team’s hard work, we tried to create a new series, and what we came up with was the Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! series. Since the Dragon Ball Z series had already perfected 2D battles, we then tried moving into a 3D space. And to me, what is cool about Dragon Ball battles is being able to kick your opponent into the distance, pursuing him with frantic speed, knocking him down, and firing off a Kamehameha; being really particular about that is what led us to come up with the Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! system.
What is the origin of the name “Dragon Ball Z: Sparking!”?
At first, we had the working title of “Super Senshi Gekitōden,”3 but if we went with that, it would have looked similar to the titles of previous games, so we tried to find a way to make it unique. We tried to think of words that related specifically to Dragon Ball, and since the “Sparking!” shouted by Hironobu Kageyama-san at the end of the animated series’ theme song4 was pretty memorable, we decided to use it.
Why didn’t you simply attach a “2” or a “3” to the sequels?5
Some people at the company were concerned that if we attached a “2” to the sequel, it would make it harder for the people that didn’t play “1,” so we went with “NEO”. For the third one, while wondering what to go with after “NEO,” we thought that “METEOR” would be a word that’s not only full of energy and that conveys something that’s large in scale, but would also be a nice throwback to the “Meteor Smashes” from the Super Butōden series, so we went with that.
Right from the very first game, the character roster was already pretty big, but why was that?
Over the course of the three Dragon Ball Z games, the character roster kept on increasing with each subsequent game, so if it suddenly decreased with the new series, you’d be disappointed, wouldn’t you? That’s why we got in 80 characters right from the start. Then, for the next one, we thought that people wouldn’t be that impressed if we just marginally increased the roster, so we decided to go for a minimum of 120 characters6, and then with the third one, we went for more than 160 characters.7 (laughs) We really felt that we had to surpass the players’ expectations.
There was also the “IF Story”8 in METEOR, wasn’t there?
We wanted to give the players something more than just feeling pumped from reliving the story from the original comic, a way for them to have fun that only video games could provide, and that’s how we came up with the what-if scenarios. But they had to be something that Dragon Ball fans would approve of, so we were extremely careful when making them. Since this game has so many characters, it’s easy to do things like making characters that wouldn’t have normally met each other interact. We thought it was an interesting concept, so we went ahead and did it.
What was the reception from players at the time?
Thankfully, the reception was very good, people were saying things like “it’s a God-tier game” or “it’s beyond God-tier, it’s a Dai Kaiōshin-tier game.” (laughs) The Dragon Ball Z series, which came before this one, was also very well received, but I think the Sparking! series was valued for letting people have a different kind of enjoyment.

The Proposal

We will now show you part of the written proposal for every game in the series, something that is not normally made public. Since it’s made before any actual development begins, things like the title and the systems might be a little different from what ends up in the final product, so it’s pretty interesting.

The proposal for Sparking!
At this point, the proposed title was Ultimate Evolution. Many terms and features ended up being different, but it seems like having a roster of more than 80 characters was already decided upon from the very start.

The proposal for Sparking! NEO
This is the proposal for the Wii version. “NEO” hadn’t yet been decided as the title, so at this point, the sequel just had a number attached. There was a strong emphasis on the unique way of controlling the game.

The proposal for Sparking! METEOR
The proposal for METEOR, which featured online battles.9 There were plans for around 150 characters, but ultimately, it ended up including more than 160.

These magazine advertisements placed special emphasis on the pre-order bonuses. There were a lot of amazing things, like a Hoi-Poi Capsule ballpoint pen, a space pod-shaped watch, and a Shenlong keychain.

The following translator notes are included for the benefit of the reader as supplemental information.

1 The three games released under the Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! series title in Japan (Sparking!, Sparking! NEO, and Sparking! METEOR) were released internationally as the “Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi” series with basic numbered titles (1-3).

2 The series of three numbered games released on the PlayStation 2 in Japan under the Dragon Ball Z series title were released internationally under the re-branded “Dragon Ball Z: Budokai” series title.

3 “Legend of the Fierce Battles of the Super Warriors”. A 1992 Nintendo Famicom Datach Dragon Ball Z card game was titled Gekitō Tenka’ichi Budōkai (“A Fierce Battle at the Tenka’ichi Budōkai”); a 1995 Nintendo Game Boy Dragon Ball Z game was titled Gokū Gekitōden (“Goku’s Fierce Fighting Legend”); a 2002 Nintendo Game Boy Color Dragon Ball Z game was titled Densetsu no Chō Senshi-tachi (“Legendary Super Warriors”). Any of these three games, not to mention several others with similar words in their titles, could have been in mind when selecting something different.

4 “Sparking!” is a notable exclamation from the Dragon Ball Z television series’ first opening theme, “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA”, performed by Hironobu Kageyama.

5 As noted in the second footnote above, the Sparking! series titles were released with simple numbers appended to their international “Budokai Tenkaichi” titles.

6 Roughly 130 total forms/variations of characters.

7 Roughly 160 total forms/variations of characters.

8 Known as the “What If Saga” in the international version.

9 Specifically in the Nintendo Wii version, which it did ultimately ship with. The PlayStation 2 version ended up shipping with a “Disc Fusion System” that allowed the player to insert either the first or second game in the series to unlock specific fights.

English Translation: Zénpai