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  Review: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3
On 09/20/05 by Andrew 'Talon' Wilson

Game Name: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3
Reviewer Name: Andrew �Talon� Wilson
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 2
Platforms Available: PlayStation 2
Official Site URL: http://www.atari.com/us/games/dbz_budokai3/playstation2
Genre: Fighting
# Of Players: 1 �2
ESRB Rating: T: violence
Publisher: Atari http://www.atari.com
Developer: Dimps http://www.dimps.co.jp/
Release Date: November 16th, 2004
Today�s Date: September 20th, 2005-09-20
System Specs/Features: Memory Card, Vibration

�A fast-paced anime fighter.�

Perhaps the strongest point of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is its expanded fighting engine. Building on the prior two titles, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 lets players make use of an extensive list of moves, which are earned through finding Capsules in either the Dragon Universe mode, or through the Skill Editing shop. Where Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 restricted players quite a bit, Budokai 3 includes almost a complete selection of moves, including characters specials, beam and move struggles (which are won by moving the analog sticks faster than the opponent), Hyper Mode, the ability to use items with the tap of guard and down during battle and most unique of all, warping.

Warping is perhaps the most significant addition to the series, as it allows players to move behind opponents with the simple touch of the forward + X buttons, greatly increasing the speed of the battles. Like all great fighting warping can be countered to prevent an imbalance by pressing back + X after the opponent warps, which when on the other side, would become forward. Warping aside, the special moves and variety of attacks build on the engine established in the prior game, allowing players to launch character special moves through the game�s Hyper Mode (which is activated by pressing the four face buttons, or alternatively the L2 button), Hyper mode increases players power temporarily as their Ki Bar (power) drains, launching into either a signature attack such as Goku�s Kamehameha wave, or into the dreaded �Dragon Rush.�

The main gameplay mode in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is its �Dragon Universe�, which has players choosing from an initial line-up of six characters: Dragon Ball hero Goku, his son Gohan, his former rival�s Piccolo and Tien, Krillen and Yamcha, while going through the Dragon Ball story. With an expanding character list as certain criteria�s met, the Dragon Universe features a simple yet effective world map,. The map itself has cut-scenes placed throughout covering each of the game�s saga�s (Saiyan Saga, Namek Saga, Cell Games, Majin Buu Saga). Giving both anime otaku and those new to the series fairly simple introductions to the back story and each character.

Since Budokai 3 is part of the Dragon Ball series, the game�s Dragon Universe also lets players collect the seven Dragon Balls, balls which when acquired lets players make one of three wishes to the mighty Dragon Shenlong. For the most part, the wish is worth getting, as they reward items, character voices and �Breakthrough� (which when equipped lets players command the entire move list for which ever character has the Breakthrough). It should be mentioned however that the means in which the balls are collected are not very intuitive. For example, to get a wish you must randomly fly around the map until you see a �???� and then move to it. Once this is done, your character flies down and a cut scene showing what was retrieved displays. After the �Dragon Radar� is collected, the finding process is a bit simpler, but the Dragon Ball finding seemed more like a last minute implementation, as supposed to what it should have been, one of the main objectives.

Two of the most interesting features of the Dragon Universe are the experience system. The experience system (allows players to assign EXP to increase health, ki, special attacks and even the AI of computer opponents). The experience system also changes and how each of the character stories shifts around after multiple plays. For example, during say the first play through Dragon Universe as Goku, players will have to battle Freiza on the planet Namek, while in the second play the battle might be with Frieza�s brother Cooler. The slight story shifts allow for some interesting encounters with characters from the main anime, and some of the movies, with some of the encounters including: Broli, Cooler and Dragon Ball GT villain, Omega Shenlong. The slight shifts in story also allow for the unlocking of said characters, as well as adding a bit of variety and replay value.

Dragon Universe aside though, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 also includes other modes, such as: Duel, World Tournament, Practice and Edit Skills. Duel�s is pretty straight forward, offering head-to-head battles against two players, computer versus computer, and player versus computer. The Practice mode is your run of the mill training mode, with character Kami instructing players on the basics of combat ( and taunting). The World Tournament mode is perhaps second only to Dragon Universe as far as usefulness goes. The World Tournament is split into four levels of difficulty: Novice, Adept, Advanced and Cell Games. The World Tournament pits players up against various opponents, allowing players to earn quite a bit of Zenny (the game�s currency),. Zenny can then be used to purchase additional Capsules containing moves and items at the game�s Edit Skill shop.

The Edit Skills shop has players making use of Zenny earned in the World Tournament or found in the Dragon Universe to purchase new moves. With split-personality character Launch owning the shop, players can purchase both normal and special attacks, as well as equipment such as healing items and temporary attack and defence power-ups. Edit Skills also comes with the ability to trade moves with other players that might be a bit further.

Overall, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is arguably the best game based on the long-running Dragon Ball franchise second only to (well in this reviewers opinion), to the classic Dragon Ball Z: Legends for the Sega Saturn and PlayStation. Bringing to the table a solid fighting engine, an expanded list of both moves and characters, and revamped cel-shade visuals, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 sets DBZ bar a bit higher. Only time will tell if Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi can stack up to what Budokai 3 offers.

Pros: Moderate learning curve, wide variety of moves, a bit more emphasis on strategy during fights than one would expect from a Dragon Ball game.

Cons: Even at maximum difficulty (Z3) can be a bit easy. Obscure characters such as King Kold, Zarbon, Doodoria, Kewie were not found on this games roster.

Overall Score: 8.0

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#1 - Reflex - 09/20/05 @ 11:22 AM EST
Um, yeah. I'm sorry you had to do this review. But good job nonetheless.
#2 - Talon - 09/20/05 @ 01:53 PM EST
Weird thing is, it's actually a good game. I was surprised myself when it was given to me last year.
#3 - nemarsde - 09/20/05 @ 03:25 PM EST
Yet again I find myself having not the faintest idea what some Amerasian trend is. I thought I'd safetly avoided Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, but now it seems it's actually a bad thing to avoid Dragon Ball Z.
#4 - Talon - 09/20/05 @ 05:04 PM EST
Blame Akira Toriyama nemarsde. He created it.
#5 - Pezman - 09/20/05 @ 06:27 PM EST
I figured LostToys would be all over this anime lovin'
#6 - Talon - 09/20/05 @ 07:06 PM EST
Yeah, I must say, I'm a bit confused here too. Perhaps there aren't enough school girls or guys dressed as school girls in this game.
#7 - kmjunior - 09/20/05 @ 07:12 PM EST
year. .. .mtu loko!!
i like!!
#8 - Talon - 09/20/05 @ 09:28 PM EST
Well if your objective was to confuse me, mission accomplished kmjunior.
#9 - nemarsde - 09/21/05 @ 09:44 AM EST
Talon, in reply to #4.

OK, consider Akira Toriyama blamed.

Not that I have anything against anime, manga, Japanimation, etc.

In fact one of my favourite animated films ever has to be the 1995 redubbed version of "Space Adventure Cobra".


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