Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 Review

There’s an extremely good chance you’ve at least heard of Dragon Ball Z. One of the most popular manga and anime series in the world, Akira Toriyama’s creation has stood the test of time, and has captivated viewers and readers with powering up for nearly two decades in Japan, and just over a decade in the US. Of course, that also means that it’s been done for quite a while as well. Despite that little hindrance, it’s still extremely popular, and one of Atari’s biggest properties.

Perhaps the most popular (and successful) DBZ-inspired games are the Budokai Tenkaichi series. Since its beginnings in 2005, the games have gotten mixed reactions from the critics, but generally favorable ones from DBZ fans looking for a nice portrayal of their show. If the latter sounds like you, you’ll probably love BT3.

One of the better changes from BT2 to 3 is the inclusion of in-fight dialog. Anyone who has seen DBZ knows that other than a lot of powering up, the two people fighting always exchange pleasantries between throwing punches and…powering up. In BT3, this is replicated fairly well. During fights characters will converse, the story will progress, and you’ll kick some ass. It’s a little odd initially, but once you realize what’s going on you’ll appreciate how the simplest addition can breathe life into an otherwise already-played game.

In addition to the in-fight chatting, BT3 also features scripted moments in mid fight. Press R3 when the icon tells you to, and you’ll be rewarded somehow.

Not everything is peachy with the story and DBZ tale, though. This time around, BT3’s story mode may feature the best implemented story-telling of the franchise yet, but it seems to jump from here to there in the plotlines, and miss out on some key fights (which were even present in BT2). I suppose at this point, though, anyone playing this game will already be very familiar with the narrative, so it’s more of an annoyance if they skip parts you enjoyed.

How much you enjoy this game really comes down (not surprisingly) to how much you like the Dragon Ball universe. Even the story mode (which is aimed at anyone playing) depends on familiarity with the series, as often the scenes play out using the game’s engine, meaning disembodied voices come in from offscreen without any clear indication of what’s going on or who’s saying what.

The Naruto fighting games are also heavily aimed at fans of the franchise, but they managed to pull off a great fighting system people can enjoy; Budokai Tenkaichi attempts to do that, but like the previous releases, there’s just something missing to make it truly addictive, and most people will resort to button mashing or spamming certain attacks over and over. That works, because there’s really no complicated movements or button presses needed to execute a lot of the moves, and characters have simple button strings and combinations to perform just about every attack.

In past BT games “button mashing” may have worked, but not here. The difficulty was increased big time, and even on the easiest difficulties people have trouble with the opponent. It’s pretty unforgiving, but moreso for newcomers. Of course, veterans may find it difficult as well due to the minor tweaks made (such as switching buttons around), but if you’re a longtime BT player, the harder AI will be a welcome change, as you’ll face a challenging opponent for the first time in ages.

If you compare Budokai Tenkaichi 3 to a fighting game like Virtua Fighter 5, it’s completely blown away. It’s not a game most fighting game players will enjoy due to the simplicity of combat, but it’s the best yet in terms of capturing that special DBZ essence.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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