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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi

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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi, originally published in Japan as Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! (ドラゴンボールZ Sparking!, Doragon Bōru Zetto Supākingu!), is a fighting video game released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan on October 6, 2005, and in North America on October 18, 2005. The game was developed by Spike and published by Atari and Bandai in the U.S. and Japan, respectively. The game features 58 playable characters with a total of 90 playable forms from the various TV series and movies. In addition, this game has fully destructible environments. In October/November 2006, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 was released as the game's first sequel.



The "Sparking!" in the Japanese title references both the first and last word in the first opening theme to the Dragon Ball Z TV series, "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" (performed by Hironobu Kageyama). However, the opening theme to the game is the TV series' second opening theme, "We Gotta Power" (featured in the Japanese version; the American and European versions includes a different, non-vocal song), which is also sung by Hironobu Kageyama.

The "Budokai Tenkaichi" title of the North American version is a rearranged version of Tenkaichi Budōkai (天下一武道会, roughly "Strongest Under the Heavens Martial Arts Tournament"). In the series, the Tenka-ichi Budôkai is a gathering of fighters in a competition for glory, fame, and prize money.

The game is not considered a part of the Budokai series of games, despite its misleading title. In addition to a completely different game engine, the game was developed by an entirely different company (Spike as opposed to Dimps). The game is also titled differently from the rest of the Budokai series in Japan. Were it a true Budokai game, it would have been Dragon Ball Z 4 in Japan. Speculation on the English re-title is that Atari chose to market the game as part of the Budokai series in order to capitalize on a pre-existing market of fans already familiar with said game series. The English version also uses a great deal of sound effects and background music made for the Budokai series.


The game is quite different from the often-compared Budokai series; it uses a "behind-the-back" camera perspective. Many say that the game feels like a combination of the Budokai series and the game engine from Dragon Ball Z: The Legend for Sega Saturn and PlayStation. Although the engine is more like a typical third-person shooter, it is difficult to master.

Unlike the Budokai series, there are no in-game transformations, but characters can also be selected from the get go in their initial transformation (for example, starting a battle in Super Saiyan, instead of base form).

Playable characters

Despite not being a part of the series, the vast majority of characters from the Budokai series once again make an appearance. Additional villains such as Zarbon and Dodoria from the first Budokai game (but not present in the two sequels) appear in the game's roster (though not present from the Budokai series are Supreme Kai, Uub, and Omega Shenron). Some of the characters making their first-ever playable appearances are Janemba, the Great Ape, Baby Vegeta, and Super 17.

There are various classes of characters with special abilities that alter the battle:

  • Artificial Humans (Jinzôningen) - Will not show on radar unless locked on to. Cannot charge Ki (unless ki gauge is full, then may charge as normal to enter Max Power mode). Energy absorption models gain ki by absorbing incoming energy dan attacks. Unlimited energy models constantly replenish ki at a consistent rate. The gauge can also be filled as normal by landing successful melee attacks, just like any other character. The characters that have this effect are Android 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and Super 17.
  • Large Characters (ex: Broly) - Do not flinch from smaller characters' melee attacks. The characters that have this "Brick wall" effect are Broly, Bojack, Super Trunks, Great Ape, Great Ape Vegeta and Android 16.
  • Great Ape - Do not flinch from smaller characters' melee attacks, and cannot be thrown or hit with a Dragon Dash-type finishing move.
  • Scouter (ex: Bardock) - Can lock onto an opponent from anywhere using the scouter, however it takes a few moments for them to turn the scouter on and then begin looking around, but the scouter is broken when the character takes a certain amount of damage. The characters that have scouters include: Raditz, Nappa, Scouter Vegeta, Dodoria, Zarbon, Recoome, Burter, Jeice, Captain Ginyu and Bardock.
  • Mr. Satan (Hercule in the edited FUNimation dub, and in the games) - None of the other characters "flinch" when hit by his melee attacks (not even when fighting another Mr. Satan).
  • Majin Buu - All of Buu's forms recover health slowly over time.

In the game, a base character can have multiple "forms" to choose from on the character select screen (for example, Perfect Cell is a different "form" from 1st-form Cell, but they are both selected from the base Cell character). In total, there are 56 different "characters," with 90 different "forms" in total. The game had the largest roster of playable characters in the franchise's history until Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2:

Returning Characters of the Budokai series
New Characters introduced in Budokai Tenkaichi
  • Chiaotzu
  • Vegeta (Scouter)* (Base, Great Ape)
  • Guldo
  • Jeice
  • Burter

Game modes

Z Battle Gate

The story mode of the game, Z Battle Gate, progresses similar to the story modes in previous games. Players can select battles from different sagas and proceed through the story of Dragon Ball Z. The battles are bookended, with players given an objective to accomplish such as finishing the battle with a certain special move or within a certain amount of time. The story mode branches out, allowing for a few battles that were not originally in the story. Dragon Balls can be found inside the destructible environment. After clearing some gates, an extra fight may or may not be unlocked. It also shows two new stories when the movie and Dragon Ball GT villains fight the Z Fighters and a tournament which involves Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z characters.

Ultimate Battle

This new mode pits whichever fighter the player chooses against 100 characters. There are winning points and ranks in this mode. Depending on how the battle went, players get positive or negative winning points. However, if the player ends up with no winning points, the game is over and the player must start back at Rank 100 (the game starts off at Rank 100). Occasionally, a different fighter (always secret characters) will "break in" (interrupt the fight before it begins). Players get more winning points for defeating them, but lose more than usual if they do not defeat them. Also, if the player wins five straight normal fights, someone five ranks ahead will offer a challenge. Completion of this challenge moves the player five ranks up.

World Tournament

Similar to the same mode in the Budokai series, the player can enter a world tournament and try to win their way to the top. There are three levels of the basic tournament and a Cell Games mode (which is hosted by Cell). Since characters can fly, characters can leave the perimeter of the arena, but will be called for ring-out if they touch the ground. There are no restrictions to the Cell Games mode, but the last match of the Cell Games mode is always against Perfect Cell. Since there is no money awarded in this game, the prize for winning a World Tournament is a Z-item. The World Tournament mode can be played with several entrants, but if there is more than one human player, then no prize will be awarded.

Evolution Z

7 slots for Z-items, but the stronger characters can have as little as 3 slots. There are Z-items that will increase a players Z-item slots, but the number of slots cannot exceed 7. Some Z-Items can be fused together to make new abilities and even characters.

Character Illustrations

A unique feature not featured in any of the other Budokai games is Character Illustrations. They list English and Japanese voice actors as well as detailed profiles for all currently unlocked characters. The Character Illustrations reveals the Great Ape featured in Budokai Tenkaichi without armor to be a generic Saiyan warrior, and not any characters in the series (Goku or Gohan).

Voice cast

Character Name Voice Actor (Japanese) V.A. (U.S. English)
Goku Masako Nozawa Sean Schemmel
Vegeta Ryō Horikawa Christopher Sabat
Piccolo Toshio Furukawa
Krillin Mayumi Tanaka Sonny Strait
Yamcha Toru Furuya Christopher Sabat
Tien Hirotaka Suzuoki John Burgmeier
Chiaotzu Hiroko Emori Monika Antonelli
Kid Gohan Masako Nozawa Stephanie Nadolny
Teen Gohan
Adult Gohan Kyle Hebert
Great Saiyaman
Future Trunks Takeshi Kusao Eric Vale
Kid Trunks Laura Bailey
Goten Masako Nozawa Kara Edwards
Gotenks Masako Nozawa
Takeshi Kusao
Laura Bailey
Vegito Masako Nozawa
Ryō Horikawa
Sean Schemmel
Christopher Sabat
Raditz Shigeru Chiba Justin Cook
Nappa Shōzō Iizuka Phil Parsons
Majin Vegeta Ryō Horikawa Christopher Sabat
Saibaimen Toru Furuya John Burgmeier
Zarbon Shō Hayami Christopher Sabat
Dodoria Yukitoshi Hori Chris Forbis
Captain Ginyu Hideyuki Hori Brice Armstrong
Recoome Kenji Utsumi Christopher Sabat
Burter Yukimasa Kishino
Jeice Kazumi Tanaka
Guldo Kōzō Shioya Bill Townsley
Frieza Ryūsei Nakao Linda Young
Android 16 Hikaru Midorikawa Jeremy Inman
Android 17 Shigeru Nakahara Chuck Huber
Android 18 Miki Itō Meredith McCoy
Android 19 Yukitoshi Hori Phillip Wilburn
Dr. Gero Kōji Yada Kent Williams
Cell Norio Wakamoto Dameon Clarke
Cell Jr. Hirotaka Suzuoki Justin Cook
Dabura Ryūzaburō Ōtomo Rick Robertson
Majin Buu Kōzō Shioya Josh Martin
Majin Buu (Pure Evil)
Super Buu Justin Cook
Kid Buu Josh Martin
Hercule Daisuke Gōri Chris Rager
Videl Yūko Minaguchi Kara Edwards
Bardock Masako Nozawa Sonny Strait
Cooler Ryūsei Nakao Andrew Chandler
Broly Bin Shimada Vic Mignogna
Bojack Tesshō Genda Bob Carter
Janemba Tesshō Genda Kent Williams
Baby Vegeta Yusuke Numata Mike McFarland
Super 17 Shigeru Nakahara Chuck Huber
Great Ape Yasuhiko Kawazu Shane Ray
Kid Goku Masako Nozawa Stephanie Nadolny
Master Roshi Hiroshi Masuoka Mike McFarland
General Tao Chikao Ōtsuka Kent Williams
Bulma Hiromi Tsuru Tiffany Vollmer
Mr. Popo Toku Nishio Cristopher Sabat
Old Kai Reizō Nomoto Kent Williams
Shenron Kenji Utsumi Christopher Sabat
Narrator Jōji Yanami Kyle Hebert

Localization differences

Sparking jp box

"DBZ: Sparking!" cover

Further confusing fans in North America, Atari's domestic release of the game does not feature the same music found in the original Japanese version. While Sparking! features actual music from Dragon Ball Z (and two other pieces from the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT where appropriate) as composed by Shunsuke Kikuchi, the American release of the game features recycled music from the Budokai series (composed in Japan by Kenji Yamamoto).

While no official explanation was ever given for the musical differences, as FUNimation Productions did not use the original Japanese score in their "reversioning" of the TV series for an English dub (though they did indeed use it for their English dub of the original Dragon Ball TV series), many fans speculate that contractual issues came into play.

Despite not featuring the original Japanese music, the American release of the game allows for selectable English (FUNimation Productions cast) and Japanese voices, while retaining the English-language written dialogue (as adapted from Steven J. Simmons' translation from the original Japanese version's script). However, there are known (un-fixed) bugs in the American version that cause pieces of English and Japanese spoken dialogue to cross over into whichever selection the player is using at times. (Super Saiyan Trunks in his battle suit (Fighting) speaks Japanese during the Finish Buster, and Super Saiyan 4 Goku also speaks Japanese when he defeats Super Saiyan 4 Vegeta). A second language related bug causes the game to start with the English voice track upon every boot-up, regardless of the user's preferences towards the matter. Although if the user previously selected Japanese before saving their game data, the Japanese track will indeed be highlighted as active during the next play session, despite being very much inactive. As a result, users favoring the Japanese voice work are forced to unselect and then reselect the Japanese language option every time they turn on the game.

Other bugs include textual mistakes such as the Character Illustrations, with one example being the misplacement of the word "how" where the word "who" should have been in one of the profiles. Instead of saying it was Bibidi who made Buu, they said Babidi, who was Bibidi's son. And strangely, even though the game uses the U.S. English anime names (For example, Launch as opposed to Lunch), Bulma's daughter is referred to as Bra rather than Bulla. It also states that Fat Buu is killed for good when he absorbs Baby's Revenge Death Ball in GT, instead of stating that he fuses with Uub and forms Majuub/Ubuu. Also, there is a mistake which refers to a U.S. English dub voice actor, under "Kid Goku's" profile it states that the American voice is played by Sean Schemmel, when he is actually played by Stephanie Nadolny.

Also, in addition to the obvious language translation, the game's cover art and logos are different in each country (apart from the Japanese and European versions, in which the only difference is the Sparking/Budokai Tenkaichi name labels).


The game sold over 1 million copies in North America and Europe by the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006.[1] In Japan the game sold 532,000 copies by the end of 2005.[2]


  • Evil Buu is referred to as "Majin Buu (Pure Evil)". Also, unlike in the anime (and also unlike the game's sequels) his voice is unusually high-pitched when he says "Buu!" (he doesn't talk at all in the sequels, but his voice is clearly more accurate to the anime)
  • If you are Frieza (2nd Form) and you use Pleasurable Frieza Time, Frieza will say "I'll show you HELL!"
  • If he is the second player before a battle, Jeice says "Don't play stupid with me, wanker!" In both sequels, this is adjusted so the word "wanker" is cut out. However, you can clearly tell he was cut off when he says "Don't play stupid with me!"
  • Though uncut versions of movies and anime refer to him as Mr. Satan, this game, and all others after it, refer to him as Hercule.
  • This is the only one of the Tenkaichi games to use just one life bar, though it has a much more considerable amount of health.
  • This is the first Budokai-style game to include all the members of the Ginyu Force.
  • The voices of Vegeta and Zarbon follow those of the remastered FUNimation episodes rather than the original FUNimation episodes, which differ considerably (and ironically they are both voiced by Christopher Sabat)
  • In the character selection screen, Broly's name is misspelled "Brolli".
  • If a player plays any tournament in the game with Master Roshi, the host (or Cell if one plays the Cell Games) will refer to him as "Turtle Hermit"
  • When Super Saiyan 4 Goku defeats Super Saiyan 4 Vegeta, he will speak in Japanese.
  • When Super Saiyan Trunks (armor) uses a Finish Buster (English voices), he will say it with his Japanese voice.
  • This is the only game in the Budokai Tenkaichi series where Captain Ginyu can switch bodies with his featured opponent.
  • When you use an afterimage-based attack and the other persons uses a high speed rush, if you charge at them to dragon clash, you will afterimage out of the way and the other person will keep hitting you until you press X. They will eventually get a 999 hit combo, and then it will restart from zero.
  • This is the only game where you can touch the ground in the World Tournament Stage, as well as touching the roof of the building and going behind the walls near the entrance. In the later two sequels, you float above the grass (except for non-flying characters in Tenkaichi 2) and the wall/roof section is blocked off, but you can still be hit to the ground. In Raging Blast 2, however, you never hit the ground unless you specify Ring-Out in the rules option.
  • This game was released in the US in 2005 and featured Janemba, even though Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn was not translated into English until 2006.



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