GAMECUBE REVIEW: DRAGON BALL Z BUDOKAI 2

The appeal of Dragon Ball Z Budokai 2 is that it's a totally accessible fighter. Almost anyone can get the hang of it in a few minutes, but that doesn't mean it's easy. There are various difficulty levels to challenge even the most hardcore of fighting fans. A variety of modes and secret goodies will keep player busy for a long time to come.

Compared to Budokai, this sequel is the closest thing to the televised cartoon series yet. I am specifically referring to this Cube version. Visually it's a noticeable improvement over the PS2 version. The graphics are cel shaded and the animation is as smooth as you can possibly imagine, unlike the PS2 version which suffered from the jerkies. There are also some new costumes and animations. All of these improvements are purely cosmetic. The gameplay is unaffected but sometimes, as in the case of cartoons, looks are everything.

Having the Cube version won't make you a better fighter, but you can revel in the fact that you have the definitive version of the Dragon Ball Z series.

For a simple fighter there is a good amount of depth to this game. There are tons of characters to fight as and a darn good selection of modes which include Verses, World Tournament, Training, Practice and Dragon mode which substitutes for a story mode. You progress through Dragon mode like a turn-based board gamer. Here you'll discover secret areas and new storylines which actually seem to fit into this format. The stories relate only through the association of the characters but they are so individualist that they don't flow into one epic tale. That was the problem with the last game. The storyline was forced into the traditional format where it came across as disjointed and random. It seems more natural when presented in this new format.

More attention was given to each character to make them feel different. It's not that there are any different moves but the feel and timing is different. For all characters the moves consist of punching, kicking, blocking and the release of the Ki energy attack. With only four buttons to push it's a very easy game to learn. To further enrich the experience you can swap skill with another character to customize a fighter to better suit your style.

Combos are automatically activated when you're button mashing successfully generates a few good hits in a row. The animation is fun and entertaining to watch. It appears seamlessly with the real-time control so that you don't miss a beat. Aerial fighting takes place when you launch your opponent into the air. It's a little disorienting at first since you don't have any landmarks to gauge your perspective with. Also the controls for moving around in the air feel unnatural. You should just be able to push one button for one direction. Instead you have to push a couple to move about.

There are shortcut commands which can save your butt at times. Just before a devastating attack you can press a combination to defend yourself from a powerful attack before it connects. It would be nice if you could actually jump or duck to avoid attacks. These moves have been absent since the series began and should be initiated in the next game. It would add another dimension to the gameplay.

Using the same voiceactors, sound effects and music as the series is a smart move. It's not though this is a mere copy of the TV show but rather an interactive extension of it. There are tons of sampled dialogue and a good variety of music.

Fans of Dragon Ball Z should not be without this game although I don't recommend purchasing the Cube version if you've already played the PS2 version since the gameplay is the same.

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System: GameCube
Dev: Dimps
Pub: Atari
Release: Dec 2004
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Kelly
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
5.0
CONTROL
4..
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
4.0