PS2 REVIEW: DRAGON BALL Z: BUDOKAI

I don't know what it is about anime that is so popular? I used to watch Astro Boy as a kid and I couldn't stand the art. I only watched it because it was the only thing on. These were in the days when we had three channels and one of them was French. But at least they had dirty movies on Saturday evening, if you could watch them without getting caught. If you kids want to see animation check out an old Popeye cartoon from the 40s. Now that's a cartoon.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai is the closest to the series yet. This game looks so close to the TV show that I was waiting for the commercials. Considering the cartoonish graphics and the jerky animation of the series I can't imagine how a developer could get it wrong. You would think they would be in danger of surpassing it. Although the game looks like the series, it's not really all that great when compared to other PS2 games out there. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 kicks its ass in the visual department. And if that's not bad enough, just about any recent PS2 fighter kicks its ass in the fighting department as well. If you're a fan of Dragonball Z you might enjoy this game but if you are approaching this from the perspective of a fighting game fan you will be disappointed.

Budokai goes a few steps further to please fans of the series. It includes 23 characters from the series including Frieza, Vegeta, Goku, Kid Gohan, Teen Gohan, Great Saiyaman, Piccolo, Tien, Krillin, Android 18, Android 17, Cell, Raditz, Nappa, Trunks, Yamcha, Dodoria, Android 16, Android 19, Hercule, Recoome, Ginyu, and Zarbon as well as all the original English-dubbed voiceactors. Various episodes from the series have been recreated for you to relive and there are no shortage of modes and features. The Training mode is a great way to start. You will learn the basic controls while the AI throws a variety of situations at you. The World Tournament mode will have to be completed to unlock the final feature in the game but the most popular modes will be the Story and the VS modes. The Story mode is comprised of numerous missions which oddly enough revolve around fighting. The Skill Edit mode allows you to customize your character in regards to health, Kri and other powers with money and capsules earned for successful bouts. You can also swap upgrades with other players by using the memory card.

Now we get to the reality under the veneer. As far as fighting games go this one is really basic. The moves are limited and the combos don't spew forth as expected. There is no aerial combat either. The only time you leave the ground is when you're thrown in the air. What is substitutes for aerial combat is nothing but fighting above the ground on an invisible platform. The moves are limited to punching, kicking, blocking and the occasional combo and special move. When you do unleash a multi-hit combo the damage is less than you would expect. Attempting to mash the buttons at the right time to execute these special attacks is a lesson in frustration as they don't occur very often. Your options for moving around are limited to left and right as you can't duck or jump. It's really quite one-dimensional. Did they pull this fighting engine out of a Game Boy Color?

On the surface, Dragon Ball Z Budokai looks and sounds like it might be the real deal but underneath lurks a soul-less program that will reveal itself once the novelty of controlling your favorite characters wear off. This Christmas remember, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

 

System: PS2
Dev: Dimps
Pub: Infogrames
Released: Dec 2002
Players: 2
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
3
CONTROL
1.5
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
2