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raditionally, the Dragon Ball Z fighting games have been about pure window dressing. Give kids characters and story lines they love and the rest will take care of itself. Budokai 2 is noteworthy because it not only gives you an extra layer of depth, but it also throws in a few gameplay additions to make the average fighting slightly more bearable.

Dragon World is a new mode where the action revolves around different playing boards as you collect the seven dragon balls, among other things. Thus, move your guys into a space on your turn, and maybe it’ll contain a defensive power-up or an enemy to battle. You also get to choose who your ally is for that board, so you can pull strategic maneuvers like trapping an enemy. Also, some skill capsules you win are only applicable to certain people, so it’s wise to choose an ally that can maximize all the skills possible.

Developer Dimps has added some welcome defensive twists to the gameplay. Not only are dodges easier, but combos can be broken up. However, on the whole, I still feel that the game lacks some fluidity, as I was never comfortable with the dash move. Furthermore, although I like the series’ use of lower and upper planes for fighting, I still wish you could move between the two more freely. Even though it’s not in the premier league of fighters, I can honestly say for the first time that non-fans will find this an inviting game with its own brand of depth. As for die-hards, being able to fuse characters is just the tip of the iceberg you’ll get playing this.  


For all but the hardest of hardcore DBZ fans, Budokai 2 is an average, entry-level fighter. It reminds me a lot of Street Fighter EX on the PSone, but with flashier graphics and fewer moves. Holding up and attack has the same result as down and attack, so there is very little strategy involved. Having to unlock specials as you go is also pretty weak. The board game concept doesn’t do much for me, though I give points for effort for trying something different. Budokai 2 looks good and the midair fighting is a decent idea, but this is one of those games that falls apart once you actually get it in your hands. The Dragon Ball influence is faithfully reproduced here, but doesn’t make up for the shallow gameplay unless you are absolutely enamored with the anime. If you consider yourself a fighting game aficionado, this is one to pass on.

Finally give fans of this fighter something new: the board game-esque Dragon World
Budokai 2 is right at home with its cel-shaded graphics
The voiceovers before battles are good to hear, although not much else is notable
Despite its improvements in other areas, I still feel that movement is a small problem
This is easily the best, most-accessible Dragon Ball fighting game there’s ever been
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