The mass appeal of the Dragon Ball Z series is hard to ignore. From a slough of Anime television episodes and toys to the numerous videogame iterations featuring Goku and the gang, the series never fails to find its loyal audience. The latest in the series is Budokai Tenkaichi 3 and fans will be sure to rejoice as it covers every saga in the Dragon Ball history. Gamers looking for a lot of depth in their fighters might be disappointed by the simplistic gameplay, but simplicity seems to work well with this series.
Since it’s the Dragon Ball history we’re dealing with in this outing you wont find a lot of originality in the Dragon History Mode. The dialogue heavy battles really flesh out the story in an interesting way by keeping the action moving as the characters banter and interact during actual gameplay. Interestingly enough, there are moments within the dialogue where you are scripted to press the R3 button to initiate a new development in the story. It basically feels like you’re swapping out characters to progress the story and at times it feels a little overwhelming, but it stays true to the Dragon Ball Z style of anime complete with intense motion lines.
Dragon World Tour mode negates the historical storyline and implements a standard tournament based fighter in its place. If you’re a fan of the traditional fighter then this will probably be your game mode of choice. Ultimate Battle adds an interesting twist by allowing you to manage fighters in a menu based system. You’re given ten days (or ten turns) to build your ultimate fighter before you unleash it in battle. Each turn is menu based and you’re given the opportunity to train, explore or rest your character. Each decision will adversely affect the players stats. When the ten days are up you face a battle to test your player’s skills. This mode is interesting, but we found the traditional modes a bit more appealing.
The PS2-exclusive feature dubbed “Disc Fusion” allows players with game saves from the previous two Tenkaichi games to unlock a couple more survival modes in the Ultimate Battle. Bonus features are always cool, but we didn’t find anything groundbreaking here.
The controls for BT3 are surprisingly simple: Punch, Ki, Dash, and block are mapped to various buttons and a basic combination of these moves delivers an ample amount of combos to easily thwart your foes. All the characters seem to follow the same pattern so there really isn’t a high level of learning curve involved. Get accustomed to a series of button combinations and you’ll more than likely be able to plow through this game with any character you choose.
There’s no surprise that there aren’t any online multiplayer modes, but there is a Duel Mode where you can challenge a friend or AI character in a one-on-one or team battle. It’s nice to have an equal playing field, but the vertical split-screen was frustrating as you don’t have a lot of room to gauge your surroundings. It’s one of those things players will have to get used to.
Overall, the game is easily the best in the series and delivers a faithful rendition of the popular anime series. You wont find anything new here, but what is presented is done well. If you’re a fan of frenzy based fighters with button mashing combos then you’ll definitely find a lot of love in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3.
- Score: 8
- If there’s one word to describe this game it’s frenzy. You’ll find plenty of fast action and the gameplay never really takes a break. The story is unoriginal but offers a complete history of the Dragon Ball Z universe. Combos are easy to master so if you’re into complexity you might find the game a bit too juvenile.
— J. Thomas