Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection – Review
Follow Genre: Beat 'em up
Developer: Dimps
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games Europe
Platform: 360, PS3

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection – Review

Site Score
6.3
Good: Nostalgic Dragon Ball action, oldschool feel
Bad: Graphics, dated gameplay
User Score
10.0
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (4 votes cast)

Namco Bandai Games Europe has recently released Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The disk features two beat-em-up games from almost a decade ago: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3. Has Namco Bandai done enough to get modern gamers playing?

Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD collection Logo

Story
The games are set in the Dragon Ball Z universe and focus on the TV-series, rather than the manga. The story, by Akira Toriyama, is about Son Goku and his friends (the Z-Warriors) who protect the Earth and other fictional planets against various villains who attempt to conquer or destroy said planets. The story can be split up in several arcs or sagas. In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, the story mode covers 3 of those sagas: Saiyan, Namekian and Android. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 includes the previous sagas and adds the Majin Buu Saga, completing the story.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection Menu 1

Graphics
Both games feature upgraded graphics, but neither game looks stunning by today’s standards. The original Dragon Ball Z: Budokai is ten years old and it shows, even with the new textures. Namco Bandai has done just enough to make it look presentable on a modern HD TV. However, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 has aged a lot better. Unlike Budokai, Budokai 3 uses cell shaded graphics, which resemble the anime a lot more closely. Combined with the graphical upgrades, this results in Budokai 3 being pleasant to look at, even when compared to more recent Dragon Ball games.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection Battle

Sound
The first thing I did after starting up Budokai, was to enter the options menu, and attempt to change the voice language from Japanese to English. Surprisingly, there is no such option. This can be explained because the original European and Japanese versions of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai only featured the Japanese voices, while the American version only offered the English voices. Since both versions of the audio were recorded in the past, we simply cannot comprehend why this collection only features the Japanese voices. Even if they wanted to go for authenticity, the English voices should still be included. Especially because only the voices spoken in the Story mode are subtitled, the voices spoken in the menus and in the Tournament mode are not. The good news is that Budokai 3 does include both languages.

If you’ve played the originals, you will notice the soundtrack has been mostly changed. This is because the original composer, Kenji Yamamoto, was accused of plagiarism. Personally, I prefer the old soundtrack, but the new one isn’t bad either.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection Menu 2

Gameplay
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai offers a number of modes, including a Duel Mode, where you fight against a computer controlled opponent or a friend, a World Tournament where you can compete for a (big) cash prize, a Practice Mode where you sharpen your skills, train your combos or try out some new things. In Legend of Hercule you attempt to fend off a whole array of enemies using only the puny Hercule. The Story Mode is of course the most important, as you can fight through the Saiyan, Namekian and Android sagas. During gameplay, you will be rewarded by unlocking a total of 23 different Dragon Ball Z characters. These can be customized with so called “Skills”, which can be bought from Mr. Popo.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 expands on the previous game by allowing characters and story lines from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT to be played, in addition to those from Dragon Ball Z. In total, 38 characters can be unlocked and played.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection Pew Pew Pew

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 has mostly the same game modes, but no real Story Mode. Instead, there is an RPG-like mode called “Dragon Universe”. You select your character and take part in all the battles from the various sagas (Saiyan, Namekian, Android and Majin Buu Saga). The amount of battles you have to fight varies greatly depending on the selected character. For example, if you play as Goku you will fight through all the enemies from all the sagas (Vegeta, Freeza, the Androids, Cell, Buu, …) , but if you play a secondary character like Tenshin, you only need to face a handful of enemies. You can fly around freely in search of Skills, Zenies (money), Dragonballs and battles. As you progress through this game mode, and complete several battles, you earn XP points. These points can be used to boost your stats, such as the amount of damage you deal, the amount of health that your character has, or the power of your energy attacks. They have also created a password system reminiscent of Animal Crossing. These passwords can be shared between players, and allow you to fight other peoples characters. Pretty nifty for the time.

Both the games play as your typical 3D fighter. Aside from the standard blows and kicks, there is also the ability to shoot ball of energy (Ki). Ki can also be used to perform special moves and do transformations (Super Saiyan, Potara, Fusion, …). The fighting system is basically the same in both games, but it is a lot more refined in Budokai 3 and it has a lot more depth.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection Frieza

Conclusion
The conclusion already? Where is the online mode? What are the bonus features? Where is Budokai 2? Yup, you guessed it, these are all missing. Especially the omission of an online mode is highly disappointing. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD can only be recommended to fans of the manga or the anime. Newer players looking to play some Dragon Ball are better off with the more recent Tenkaichi series. If you own the originals, as I do, there really is no reason to pick this up. Even if you’re interested in playing the previous games in the series, it still isn’t worth the €40 they charge for it. It’s probably cheaper the find a PS2 bundled with at least one of the games on eBay.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection Goku

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Rating: 10.0/10 (4 votes cast)
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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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