Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, released as Dragon Ball Z (ドラゴンボールZ, Doragon Bōru Zetto) in Japan, is a fighting video game developed by Dimps and published by Atari. It was released for the PlayStation 2 in December 2002 in North America and for the Nintendo GameCube in North America on October 2003. As the GameCube version was released almost a year after the PlayStation 2 version, the opportunity was taken to improve the graphics using cel-shading.
The game was re-rendered in HD for the 2012 Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, though anything outside of battle game play is displayed in 4:3 instead of 16:9.
The objective of each battle is to deplete your opponent's health bar. Battles take place on a 2.5D plane, where characters may move around. To unleash super attacks, characters must use up a certain number of Ki bars on the Ki gauge. Characters can also transform, where they gain super attacks and increased strength.
Each character can be optionally customized by using a 7-slot skill tray; players may choose up to 7 skills and assign them to the fighter of their choice. Some skills can take up multiple slots. Skills may be purchased from Mr. Popo in the Edit Skills mode using the prize money from the World Tournament mode.
There are three types of skills:
- Special Moves, which include skills such as the Kamehameha and the ability to become Super Saiyan.
- Physical, which includes such skills as Zanku Fist.
- Equipment, which includes skills such as the Senzu Bean.
One can also purchase Dragon Balls, and when all of them are collected, Oolong appears and summons Shenron, giving the player a choice of three Breakthrough Capsules; these allow a player to use all of a character's moves and abilities at once at the cost of every slot in the skill tray.
The Story Mode consists of 3D cutscenes adapted from the series. Unlike later Budokai games, the story mode is similar to most other fighting games (in which cutscenes occur between battles). The story mode covers 3 Sagas: Saiyan, Namekian, Android Sagas. The player automatically collects capsules (or sometimes Dragon Balls and characters) at the end of each battle. Also, more levels are unlocked during a second playthrough. At the end of every saga there are bonus "what if" episodes, and one plays as the main villain of that saga; Vegeta, Frieza and Cell respectively:
- In Vegeta's storyline, "Vegeta, Saiyan Prince", Vegeta and Goku duel, and Vegeta defeats him with minimum effort, driven by the desire to avenge Nappa's defeat (though he himself killed Nappa, he still feels for his comrade's demise). Then Krillin and Gohan turn up, and Vegeta beats them separately. After the battle, Yajirobe sneaks up behind Vegeta but he is heard. Impressed by Yajirobe's stealthiness, Vegeta offers him to become his next pupil. Yajirobe refuses, stating that he does not want to end up like Nappa. Infuriated at being reminded of Nappa's death, Vegeta goes Super Saiyan in anger, leaving Yajirobe terrified.
- In Frieza's storyline, "Raging Frieza/The True Ruler", Frieza successfully beats Krillin, Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, and Goku in battle. He then succeeds in wishing for immortality. Blowing up Namek, Frieza returns to his spaceship and decides to head for Earth with the intention of destroying it.
- In Cell's storyline, "Aim For Perfect Form!/A Cold-Blooded Assassin", Cell attempts to absorb Android 17 and Android 18, and successfully beats Android 16 in battle. He then absorbs 17, but while attempting to absorb 18, Krillin intervenes. Though Cell wins the ensuing fight, Krillin uses his last strength to push 18 aside, causing Cell to accidentally absorb Krillin and lose a lot of power. Yamcha and Tien Shinhan then show up to challenge the weakened Cell. He barely manages to beat Yamcha, but he is then destroyed by Tien. The real Cell then wakes up in the middle of the Cell Ring, realizing that it was a nightmare, and saying to himself that ten days was too long to wait for the Cell Games.
The World Tournament allows players to compete against a computer-controlled character in a Martial Arts Tournament. The Prizes can be the following:
- Novice: 10,000 Zeni (5,000 for second place)
- Adept: 30,000 Zeni (15,000 for second place)
- Advance: 50,000 Zeni (25,000 for second place)
Dueling mode allows a player to fight a computer-controlled character at a preset skill level, or two human players to fight each other using any custom skills. A player may also watch a fight between two computer-controlled fighters.
Legend of Hercule
Legend of Hercule (Legend of Mr. Satan in the European and Japanese versions) is an optional mode unlocked through capsules. In this mode, players control Hercule as he defeats several opponents, arcade-style. Some fights have special conditions, such as only using Ki to attack, or defeating the opponent within a time limit. The final opponent is Perfect Cell.
|Name||Playable Forms||Usable Costumes||Story-only/Unplayable Costumes/Forms||Available at Start|
- Cell Ring
- Planet Namek
- Valley Plains
- World Match
- Time-Soul Room
- Rock Mountain
The North American version contains the voices from the FUNimation dub of the anime series, with all other localized versions containing the original Japanese dub with subtitles.
|IGN||6.2 of 10|
|GameZone||7.2 of 10|
|GameSpot||6.9 of 10|
|IGN||6.4 of 10|
|Game Spot||6.9 of 10|
|Review compilations (PS2 Version)|
|Game Rankings||68.8% (based on 38 reviews)|
|Metacritic||67% (based on 28 reviews)|
|Review compilations (GameCube Version)|
|Game Rankings||65.8% (based on 29 reviews)|
|Metacritic||65% (based on 16 reviews)|
The first Budokai received "mixed or average" reviews on both platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. Entertainment Weekly gave the PlayStation 2 version a C and said that its characters, "while lacking artistic detail, still yell, grunt, and move almost exactly like their broadcast counterparts."
Many critics complained about the GameCube version's simple interface and the fact that combos weren't worth the payoff. However, more complex combos were possible due to an oversight in the move canceling feature but were rarely known at the time.
These oversights were turned into an important part of the system in the later games and were what high level play tended to revolve around.
The game had shipped 3.5 million copies on PS2 by June 2003. It sold a total of 543,000 copies on PS2 in Japan according to Famitsu's 2003 year end chart. In the United States it sold 2.04 million copies.
- The opening from the Japanese version featured "Cha-La Head-Cha-La". It was replaced in the American version with "Rock the Dragon". However, the end credits features an instrumental remix of "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" in all versions. For some reason, the opening used in the European version was just made of clips from the Story Mode, and had different music. Speculation led lots to believe it was due to most of the European audience not seeing the proper introduction the anime had, although it was actually seen in some countries like Spain.
- On the dueling image on the main menu and the PAL boxart, Vegeta is in his Buu Saga attire. Also on the PAL boxart, Vegeta from Buu Saga is seen in the bottom corner with Spopovich. On the back side Majin Vegeta and Great Saiyaman is seen with Babidi, Majin Buu and Dabura, yet none of those characters appear in the game. These characters are removed from the cover art used for the Platinum re-release.
- The Kamehameha attack is yellow for everyone except for Cell, while in the anime, it is blue. In the colored page of the manga, though, the Kamehameha is most of the time yellow.
- Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon would be purple from this game to the end of the Budokai series.
- This is the only game in the Budokai series to have Zarbon, Dodoria and Android 19 as playable characters, as well as Vegeta and Future Trunks in their 2nd Grade Super Saiyan forms, Future Trunks in his 3rd Grade Super Saiyan form, and Cell in his Power-Weighted Perfect Form.
- Despite only including the story up to the Cell Saga, the game has some elements from later parts of the series: the Great Saiyaman is a playable character, Tien and Android 17 have their outfits from the Buu Saga as alternate costumes, Vegeta has his outfit from the episodes before the 28th World Martial Arts Tournament, and Mr. Satan uses the Game Boy bombs he attempted to attack Majin Buu with in both of his ultimate attacks.
- Unlike later games in which transforming gave a slight percentage of attack increasement, each transformation in Budokai gives each character a 10% attack increase, making characters who can transform the most powerful characters in the game, though the ki consumption rate was incredibly high as characters transformed. Later Budokai games gives characters smaller increases or fixed increases depending on transformations, being no more than 10% extra for each transformation (this makes Goku theoretically the strongest character in terms of sheer attack power since he has the most transformations, though the ki consumption at the point of his Super Saiyan form requires a lot of ki charging and even then is easy to fall to lesser forms).
- During the story mode's cutscenes inside Kame House, a book on Master Roshi's table has a blurred image of the cover for the first Dragon Ball manga volume.
- In the first scene from the level "Show Gohan's True Power", Great Ape Vegeta is crushing Goku then says "That power level...where?". This is a goof because Vegeta could not sense power levels until the Namek Saga.
- In the scene from "A Wicked Omen", when Piccolo sees Cell for the first time, he says Cell you monster! which is an error because Piccolo did not know who Cell was when he confronted him.
- During one of the game's cutscenes, Imperfect Cell is given the same voice as Perfect Cell while he is saying "Nothing can stop me from fulfilling my design! I am perfect!" Also, Imperfect Cell's voice is retained throughout his transformations during battle; this also occurs with Zarbon in his monster form. However, aside from cutscenes, Perfect Cell's actual voice can be heard when launching the Spirit Bomb.
- Originally, the European version of the game called Mr. Satan by his original name, but this was changed to Hercule in later releases.
- Once all the Breakthrough Capsules are obtained, the Dragon Balls can be purchased one last time. However, they will be of no use afterwards, making them nothing more than showcase items.
- Official page from PlayStation website
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai review at IGN
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokaiat Game Rankings