Without a doubt the most satisfying Dragon Ball Z game to date.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is without a doubt the best game released in the franchises illustrious game history. It’s also arguably the first Dragon Ball z game that is not only fun to play for die-hard fans, but also casual gamers as well.
The game is developed by Dimps, this being their third and final Budokai game before being replaced by Spike for the Tenkaichi series. It was published by Atari and released back in November of 2004, the game also being re-released with a limited edition dvd extra and a few extra items, as well as the option of the Japanese voice track.
Budokai 3 is essentially an updated version of Budokai 2; featuring new cel-shaded graphics, a new and improved story mode, a larger character roster and a slew of new mechanical features. The story mode for Budokai 3, named the Dragon Universe, follows Goku and his friends once again and runs from the Saiyan saga right through to the end of the Majin Buu saga from the anime series. Sadly if truth be told it more or less plays as a series of fights linked together with some images and voice-overs, however this time battles are linked with an impressive 3D map that allows you to explore earth finding items and other special encounters. You can also search and obtain the Dragon Balls and eventually make a wish, should you be inclined, using a Dragon Radar given to you if you visit one of the many cities in the game.
The Dragon Universe also introduces an RPG element to it, by winning fights you earn experience points and once you gain a certain amount you level up, this giving you skill points to distribute to various attributes. These attributes can have a major effect on a character, everything from your attack power to how much Ki energy your character has is reflected in your attributes. This along with the ability to edit your characters skills gives the game a nice amount of customization, and offers the right amount of depth and strategy to keep people interested throughout the story and arena modes.
As far as game play is concerned, it’s never been better. While the basics are still intact the game has some great new features, the most important being teleportation counters and beam struggles. The teleportation system is both simple, but precise. It requires good timing in order to be effective but if done properly is well worth it. The ability to smack your opponent to the sky, teleport behind him and smack him back done again has always been a key part of any Dragon Ball Z fight, and being able to do it in the game feels really good. As for beam struggles, it’s exactly how it sounds, two beams of energy collide and each tries to overpower the other. It’s a pretty simple, but it looks fantastic. If that weren’t enough the game also has a rock/scissor/paper game of chance called the “Dragon Rush” system. It involves each player pressing a face button with the attacker aiming to press a different button from the defender. If the buttons match up at any point of the three stage attack the defender wins and the move cancels out. However if they’re different throughout, the attacker win and in turn launches a power and cinematic finishing attack.
Finally, to bring it all together are the graphics. It’s the use of details cel-shaded graphics and fantastic special effects that make Budokai 3 such a visual treat. The game does have the occasional awkward moment, but overall it looks amazing and is a vast improvement over the previous games. The sound is also top notch as usual with the English voice actors all reprising their roles for the game with enough enthusiasm, and sound effects that sound like they have been taken from the anime.
While the game may be several years old it’s still worth playing today. It’s without a doubt the most satisfying Dragon Ball Z game released to date and while visually it may seem dated the game play still holds up nicely. That aside, tweaks and additions to the mechanics, as well as the impressive graphics that make Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 such a great game. Even if you’re not a fan of the series there is definitely something to enjoy. This being the first and possibly only Dragon Ball Z game that anyone can, and will, enjoy.