N Amer - 12/02/2003
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Dragon Ball Z®: Budokai(tm) 2 Review
The Dragon Ball series is
one of the most lucrative franchises in the world. If you look around you will
find myriads of games, comics, DVD’s, and many other items related to this
franchise. Dragon Ball Z, in particular, has spurned many fighting games on
various systems, and this is due to the “fighting” nature of the anime. Last
year Infogrames released Dragon Ball Z Budokai, and while it was one of the
better fighting games based off the series, it was still flawed in many aspects.
This year Atari has released a sequel to that game, but is it better, or just
more of the same?
There are a few different game modes to play in this game: Dueling, World Tournament, Training, and Dragon World. Dueling mode is the verses mode of this game; it allows players to select their favorite character and go head to head in any stage. World Tournament is a “king of the hill” type battle; there can be a three, four, or five round battle. If you win or come in second place, you will get Zenie to purchase capsules that will help upgrade your characters. Training mode is split up into two sections: Training and Practice. In Training, players control Goten, as different characters tell him the basis of the game. In Practice mode, players can learn everything that there is in the game, and learn the player’s moves. This is very helpful to players who want to master the characters so they will be unstoppable in the game.
The real meat of this game is the revamped story mode called Dragon World. In this mode Goku (and another character, players will have the option to choose from several characters before you start on each of the maps) will search for the seven Dragon Balls. They can also get new skills, hidden characters, and earn some Zenie on the side. Once players collect all of the balls, Shenron will grant you a wish. The main objective for each level is given to players as soon as they get to the level. Once they accomplish that objective they will be transported to the next level, even if characters didn’t find all of the Dragon Balls. So you must use some strategy while playing this game so you can get all of the balls before you go to the next level.
What makes this mode so different is the fact that the game is like a “board game.” Each player receives one turn, and they can move anywhere on the map, trying to get all of the skill upgrades and finding those sacred Dragon Balls. Once players run into an enemy, there will be a brief dialog between them, then they will fight. Players have to beware of how many “life bars” they have before they take on a battle, because if they lose all of the life bars they will not be able to help Goku (or vice-versa) for the rest of that level. This is a really interesting twist to the entire game, unlike the last game, which followed the story of the anime series verbatim, this game decides to make a twist, and it is greatly appreciated
A big thing in this game is editing the player’s skills so they will become more powerful. The characters have several slots to fill up, the only bad thing is that players might have a lot of things they want but they have to limit them due to the amount of open slots they have. There are three ways to acquire new skills, either by purchasing capsules at the skill shop, win them by beating certain enemies in the game, or they can trade them with another person who owns the game. There are three types of skills, ability, physical, and support. Ability skills are red capsules that include transformation and death moves. Physical skills are in blue capsules which are consecutive attacks and throwing moves. Support skills are in green capsules and are armor, medicines, and other things to aid a character in battle. The different skills that players can acquire really make this game worthwhile. It is always fun to see what skill you might get next and how that might help, or hinder, your battles.
This game has one of the best features that many other developers should apply in their games. Once the game loaded and I opted to create a new game save, Budokai 2 picked up my save from the first game, and it gave me a lot of skills and upgrades for that. This makes it a great incentive to own the previous game so you can get all of those unlockables. It also proves to me that developers truly care about their customers by doing little things like this.
Another great feature in the game is the addition of fusion characters; there are several different characters in all that can be fused together to make a more powerful warrior. Atari did something funny and included some of the more hilarious and “what if” fusions from the series.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 is rated T for Teen for violence. It requires 70kb on your memory card.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 controls much better than the previous game did, but that does not mean that it is perfect. The bad thing about the game is that many of the moves, while they have different names, are very similar and look almost identical. The controls are more accessible to players this time, instead of hitting a long combo string, there are shortcut commands to get the moves done faster, but they will not be as powerful as doing the whole combo string. The game moves at a much faster face than the original did. This is a good thing, because the fights don’t seem to drag on for what seems like an eternity like the first one did.
The biggest problem that I had with the game is the lack of ability to fly, duck, and jump; this is one of the crucial aspects of the show and any fighting game. The only way to get up in the air is when players are hit up there, and then the opponent will slowly fly up to meet them so the fight can continue. If there is another sequel this really needs to be implemented into it.
Unlike last year’s game, Budokai 2 tries to mimic the anime series with the cel-shading technology and they do a really good job at it. Everything in the game really looks like the anime series and that makes it more fun to play. All of the special attacks, from the classic Kamehameha to the Spirit Bomb, looks fantastic and will give the whole “flashing lights” effect that the television series is known for. The environments that players will fight in are taken directly from the show and they all look very good to their counterparts. The only bad thing is that sometimes players might find a smidgen of slowdown, it is not enough to hamper the game, but it is distracting, especially for a fighting game.
Just like in the previous game, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 features all of the voice actors from the TV series. This is always a great thing to hear the exact same people play the parts instead of hearing someone else attempting to do the voices. There are numerous lines, including funny quips characters make before they battle, that make the players feel that they are in the Dragon Ball universes. The only thing that might disappoint a few of your out there is that Atari didn’t opt to include the original Japanese voice cast, but I think that the English cast did a really good job so it is not missed much.
The music and sound effects that are in this game is really good as well. The music will really remind players of some of the things they heard while watching the television series. It is upbeat, and it really doesn’t get repetitive. Players will also hear the classic sound effects that were in the show, from explosions to other fighting noises, and it all sounds really good.
Due to the control scheme, the game can be really hard for players to get a hold of in the beginning, but once they go though the Training course and some practice they will be ready for anything that comes their way.
I really like how the developers did something different with the story mode this time around. Also the improved visuals really help make this game feel more like the anime series.
It is always fun to go head to head with a friend with the most powerful beings in the universe to see who will be the top player. Plus it is always better to play against a human character instead of a computer.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 is light years better than the original game that was released last year. The controls are much better, the visuals are very similar to TV show, and it is an overall improvement. Fans of the show will defiantly want to pick this game up, but if you enjoy hard core fighting games you might not like this one as well, because it is not as finely tuned as other fighting games on the market.
GameZone Review Detail
Do you have the power?
Reviewer: Michael Knutson
Review Date: 12/18/2003