Review: Dragonball Z Budokai HD Collection
Title: Dragonball Z Budokai HD Collection
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (reviewed on Xbox 360)
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Tagline: Just like a Dragonball cartoon – long, meandering with no focus
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Verdict: Rent It
Dragonball Z is a phenomenon that always baffled me. I mean, I have on several occasions, tried to sit down and watch the series, but it was one of those things where events would drag on for several episodes. I just never got the gist of the story the creators were trying to tell. But even with my confusion and indifference, I did understand one thing – it was popular. And because of that popularity, the series has spawned many video games based on the many iterations of the show. Dragonball Z Budokai HD Collection takes two of the better PS2 games of the same name and packages them together along with a decent facelift. While it does look solid, deep down, it is more of the same.
The Dragonball Z Budokai HD Collection bundles together both the original Budokai game, as well as the Budokai 3 title in the series. If you are asking yourself why Namco skipped Budokai 2 and went with the third game in the series, join the club as it seems everyone has asked that question on the web. The only answer I could come up with is that Budokai 3 changed up the gameplay mechanics rather significantly, while Budokai 2 was pretty much the same as the first in terms of gameplay and style.
At their hearts however, any of the Budokai games come down to being common fighting games that just happen to star some of people’s favorite Dragonball Z characters. The entire gang is here in both of these games. Starting at the top with Goku and Vegeta, all the way down to later characters like Gotenks.
Combat mechanics are flexible enough for players of all skill levels. I consider myself good, but not great when it comes to most fighting games, and here, I did get the basics of the combat system. What I did like is that it does not require you to be a gymnast of the hands. It uses a minimalist style, with a few buttons used for attacks and blocks, combined together with simple stick movement to get a good amount out of your characters. If you want more, there are deeper combos, but most can get through the game using those basic combos that require less finger dexterity.
Both games do look surprisingly good, with sharper looking textures and less jagged lines than the versions released on the PS2. Voice acting is top notch and the first game does follow your standard Dragonball Z episode layout, complete with intro bumpers, recaps from previous episodes and more. It really does do everything it can to make you feel like you are part of an episode of Dragonball Z. Budokai 3 takes a different approach, with an overhead map side missions and more.
Both games do try to mix things up a bit in their story mode, with little minigames that break up the monotony of going from one fight to the next. These modes are rather simple and require you to perform some sort of button mash or balancing stick movement to get past the game. It was a nice touch and it lets me know that even the developers know that it can’t just be a lot of fighting over and over.
Finishing story mode in either game will unlock extra characters that can be used in versus mode, or even in the main story mode to unlock different episodes and missions that cannot be played through the first time. This is another nice touch for getting more replay value out of both of the games in this collection.
Up to this point, I really want to sell people on the Budokai HD Collection, but it falls flat in many ways, if only because beyond the upgrade of the resolution and textures, there is little else done to bring the games into the current generation. Purists will appreciate this, but it begs the question of why would you buy it again when you probably still own it on the previous consoles. The graphics are good, but not great enough to make it worth purchasing again. And unless you are a nut for the Dragonball Z lore, it will not lure in someone just passing by it in the store. It is a game for fans of the series, but those fans are probably not looking for it on another console. It is not a knock on the game, but it is a stiff challenge to buy the game when it is essentially the same game with a new coat of paint.
If you were a fan of the previous Budokai games, you will find a lot to enjoy in this package. It looks and sounds cleaner than its previous iteration on the PS2. But beyond a new coat of paint, I can’t see a reason to run out and pick this collection up. It has very little in the way of extras or supplemental information about the games or the series. But unless you are a completionist, maybe settle on renting this one for a few days for your enjoyment.
- Good looking graphical update
- Lots of characters to unlock
- Story mode offers lots of replayability
Dragonball the Movie:
- Beyond graphics, not many other changes from original games
- Widescreen support not fully implemented
- Levels can seem to plod on for extended periods of time.
While there is a lot of fighting in Dragonball Z Budokai HD Collection, it is not brutal in the sense of broken limbs or a lot of bloodshed. Some might want to keep the youngest kids away, but I think that those 10 and up should be fine with this title.