Review: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection (PS3)

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Title: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection
Format: Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Dimps
Price: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection is also available on Xbox 360.
The PlayStation 3 version was used for this review.

My childhood was great. I enjoyed playing sports, hanging out with friends, and doing things a child should do. One of my favorite memories was coming home from school, turning on Cartoon Network, and watching Dragon Ball Z. It was my favorite show, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. When the original Dragon Ball Z: Budokai was released, I played it all the time. I was reliving Goku’s journey on my television and performing the Kamehameha.

Now with the release of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection, I get to look back at one of my favorite memories.

Gameplay:
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection is made up of Budokai 1 and 3. From the outset, you have to choose which game you want to play. Here and lies the first problem. You can’t just switch between the games seamlessly. You have to restart the game. This is an inconvenience, as I wanted to go between both games to see how different each plays. When I was able to switch between the games after a 10-minute wait time, I found the second problem, which lies with the fighting system.

The fighting system feels very heavy. The fighters act like the equivalent of cement blocks. This would be fine in some fighters, but when you are used to watching the show and seeing how fluid the fights are, you get a specific image of how a fighter based off of that is going to be. This game does not accomplish that feat in the least bit.

The fighting system is too heavy and slow. Dragon Ball Z is very fluid. They failed in this aspect.

The fighting system is too heavy and slow. Dragon Ball Z is very fluid. They failed in this aspect.

The controls are pretty standard. You have a punch, kick, block, and energy blast all on the control pad. These can be combined to do specialty moves like the Kamehameha. It can even be combined to do the signature moves of each character like the Spirit Bomb or Special Beam Canon. These are the fun little parts of the game as there are special cut scenes attached to each move. Both games haves these and are a bright spot in an otherwise dull game.

The stories in both games follow our hero, Goku, on his quest to battle evil across the universe. It is the story that fans have loved since the start. The only real problem with this story, in both games, is that it can be very hard to follow and understand. In Budokai 1, the story is told with very short cut scenes that don’t elaborate on why you are fighting certain opponents. In Budokai 3, it is even worse. Dimps tried to make an open world and mix in some story elements. You fly around from spot to spot to fight opponents. There really is no reason why they did this. It is very buggy, also, as you will fly to a certain point on the map and be unable to engage in the fight. You will have to back up, move forward, and over and over until the game will finally recognize that you are at the correct spot when you click the X button. I threw my controller down at one point because it wouldn’t let me get to my next fight. This game is not very tight and with that, not very memorable.

I will leave the “Gameplay” section with this, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD does not have an easy story to follow and the fighting isn’t at all very good. The RPG mechanics are way too trivial and the controls feel like your playing with concrete blocks. With all of that said, I still had fun but in a “Wow, I thought this was amazing back when I was 12” kind of way.

Visuals:
The visuals of this game were great back on in the PS2 days. You read that right; they WERE good. With the up conversion into HD, this game looks dated. Granted the character models look decent since their migration to HD with the cell shading, but the environments you fight in are down right atrocious. They are bland with no life or character to them. Budokai 3 tries to remedy this with interactive environments, which basically means if you knock your opponent to a certain point on the stage, it will trigger him getting knocked into a mountain or maybe a dinosaur hitting him with his tail. This does not hide that the environments are lifeless.

I said it in the gameplay, but the signature moves do look quite good. Again, it helps add some life to the game that is sorely lacking. Beyond the dull environments and the character models looking reasonably well, this game is as ugly as they come. This is a PS2 game that was converted to HD without touching up some troublesome areas.

The characters look good, but the environments are so bland. I wish their was some life to the areas.

The characters look good, but the environments are so bland. I wish there was some life to the areas.

Audio:
The audio in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection is very hit or miss. The voice acting in the game is minimal at best but can be very good at times. The US voice actors are back to reprise their roles as Goku, Piccolo, Vegeta, etc. They sound great, when they actually speak. The cut scenes show off this familiar aspect that the DBZ fans love.

The most disappointing feature of this game is the music and the sound effects. The music is very minimal at times cutting out in the middle of a fight. During that time, all you will hear is the patented “bang” and “boom” of any fighting game. It does not offer anything original and that is okay for some games, but for this game it is down right awful. This was a major letdown.

Online/Multiplayer:
The multiplayer of this game is simple 1v1. You can do simple matches or maybe have friends that want to start a tournament. It is nothing ground breaking but it does offer some fun if you have a big group of friends. My brother and I spent about an hour playing together, but we came away not wanting to play anymore together. It came down to whom could get their super move off first, which was a roll of the dice.

Beyond that, there is no online play. This is a big bummer as it could have been very awesome to connect with other Dragon Ball Z fans. I feel the community could have grown and kept up with this game. In all, the multiplayer is not killer feature of this game. It is very bland and nothing too special.

Conclusion:
I love Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT. I am a huge fan. Watching the story of Goku is great, BUT these games do not do the series justice. It might have been decent in the PS2 days, but it is downright awful in the PS3 library. The move to HD shows how dated the visuals are, the gameplay is very slow and stiff for a fighting game, and the story is something I have experienced before. If you are a fan, you might want to rent it. If you have no idea what Dragon Ball is, PLEASE watch some of the show. Who knows, you may like it, but don’t play these games to see what it is all about. The memories of these games have now been ruined for me.

Score:
4.5

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Written by Nathan Hensler

Follow me on twitter, or play a game with me on PS3.
Xbox is also an option: Chili16, or maybe Steam, wait no my computer sucks :(

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  • dakota

    this really disappoints me. i was also a big fan when i was a kid. i really hoped this would do better but none the less i mite still buy it for nostalgia and maybe something to play when im drunk and with a couple of friends?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-James/639811378 Nate James

    Ya man, I love DBZ and fans will have some fun looking back on everything. Just don’t think it is going to be a street fighter or some fighter that is very tight and fluid. It does bring back those memories!

  • http://twitter.com/sup3r1or Vitali Sklifus

    To be honest with you, I still stick to my opinion after playing all of them that Budokai 3 is the best DBZ fighting game, I enjoyed the hell out of it alone or with friends. After they switched to 3rd person perspective I hate it. Dozens of characters with same moves just skinned differently.
    Only thing I hated in Budokai 3 is if I want to have SS3 Goku I need to put in like 4 capsules with total of 6 spaces.