Dragonball Z: Budokai
Sometimes gamers fail to realize that not all games were created with them in mind. This is one such title. Dragonball Z: Budokai (DBZ:B) is directed towards fans of the TV series, plain and simple. From the gameplay mechanics to the character selection this becomes blindingly apparent good and quick. Despite that thereís still a number of shortcomings in DBZ:B that will disappoint fans of the series and of the genre alike, such as the low production values, poorly scaled difficulty, and shallow gameplay.
Looking at this game it absolutely boggles the mind that it doesnít use cel shading. Itís a huge fad in the industry these days, no doubt, but in these circumstances it would look fabulous what with Dragonball being an animated series and all. Nonetheless the developers plunged ahead with plain old, and all together bland, 3D polygons instead. The frame rate is fine and dandy, but the general lack of detail is very disappointing. The characters just look so plain. Thereís nothing exciting about their appearance whatsoever, and the environments are pale polygonal approximations of what one would expect to see from the TV series. Maybe with some luck future titles will go the cel-shaded route, but for now youíll just have to suffer through an exceptionally mediocre presentation.
music and sound effects donít hold up much better, unfortunately.
The music works just fine for adding atmosphere to the fights and
there are a lot of tunes straight from the show to keep fans happy.
Sound effects are serviceable at best, but certainly donít
dazzle. Thankfully the
voices for the gameís characters are provided by the actual voice
actors from the show, and with it comes an above average level of acting
for a game and the true saving grace of DBZ:Bís audio experience.
overly simplistic approach to combat then works its way through a number
of game modes with the usual practice, story, and versus modes as well
as a tournament mode with overly long pre-battle character intros that
canít be bypassed by pounding away on the controller.
To the credit of the tournament mode, if you come in first or
second overall you receive a cash prize, which can be spent on skills at
Mr. Popoís shop. These
skills range from new attacks, to improved defense, to instant kill
moves among others. Itís
a fun little diversion, especially for those who like to unlock every
little thing in a game. On
top of this, not only can these skills be collected, they can be traded
with friends as well. Story
mode basically goes through everything from the Dragonball Z series,
though it does seem to gloss over some sections.
On the plus side this helps to avoid those three episode long
staring contests that the series has become notorious for, but some of
the omissions will likely grate on the nerves of ardent fans of the
show. Story mode also makes
it very apparent that the gameís difficulty settings are very poorly
scaled. In most games
thereís a gradual sloping increase in difficulty as you take on one
fighter after the next, but here it is more of a plateau setup with a
few opponents of about the same level of difficulty, then it ramps up
significantly and stays there for a time, then it ramps up once more and
continues this way until the end. It
makes for a jarring experience that proves quite aggravating after a
time. Story mode also
unlocks a slew of characters as you progress in DBZ:B, and there really
is a small army of characters to play as here with a roster of 23
warriors all together when everything is said and done.
The major characters are present with all of the members of the
supporting cast that matters and then some are here to play as.
of this equates to a game that tries so very hard to appeal to fans of
Dragonball Z, but the poor graphics and simplistic, shallow gameplay
will just leave gamers craving more.
Only bother with DBZ:B if you are a steadfast, utterly devoted
fan of the series, otherwise steer clear of this title and get your
fighting game fix elsewhere.
- Mr. Nash
(March 22, 2003)
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