Dragon Ball Z Review: Budokai HD Collection

Eleven years have now passed since the release of the first Dragon Ball Z: Budokai on Playstation 2 (landed in 2003 also on Nintendo GameCube), a title that enjoyed general critical success and inaugurated the Budokai series of fighting games linked to the opera. by Akira Toriyama. Moving on to a fairly controversial second chapter and a third chapter often referred to as one of the best video games inspired by the Dragon Ball franchise, the series then came to Playstation Portable in 2006 with two spin offs: Shin Budokai (whose story mode is based on the movie “The Diabolical Warrior of the Underworld”) and Shin Budokai 2, set in Trunks' alternate future. After these last appearances in the previous generation, however, the series has no longer found space today, at least until the announcement of this Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection, which contains the first and third installments of the main Budokai series. Was Namco Bandai limited only to following what now seems a fashion, launching old glories on the market, or did it do the "homework" well, launching on the market restored titles adapted to the current generation?


When we say "there is no two without three"

One thing must be said immediately: to call Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection a real "collection" would be wrong, as the second chapter is not present, officially because this represents a sort of breaking point within the series and therefore to Namco Bandai it seemed more appropriate to insert only the first and third chapter, which in fact is the real "sequel ”By Dragon Ball Z: Budokai. Although Budokai 2 represents for the series a bit what Devil May Cry 2 was for the homonymous ssaga, or the classic black sheep of the family, it would have been interesting to see a revival especially for the high number of characters "what if ”Playable in this chapter (such as the fusion between Yamcha and Tenshinhan or Majin Buu after having absorbed Freeza or Cell) or special costumes introduced (among all we must certainly remember Creeza, the son of Freeza taken from the comic manga Nekomajin). In short, despite not being among the highest points of the series, Budokai 2 would have embellished this collection with a title whose appeal the fans of the saga would probably not have resisted, even if only for the simple curiosity to see and try these unpublished characters.

Saiyans are a warrior race even in HD

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai features several game modes. In addition to the Story mode, it is possible to play against the CPU or another player by selecting the Duel item (it is also possible to watch the fight between two characters controlled by the CPU in order to learn how to play by observing), or face the classic martial arts tournament at World Clash voice, as well as Training and Skill Modes, which allows you to purchase and customize the moves of the characters. The Story mode covers the first three Dragon Ball Z sagas, namely that of the Saiyans, the one set on Namek and the saga of the Androids and Cells. Each of these sagas is divided into chapters, consisting of an initial animated sequence, a playable session ( usually a fight but sometimes also mini-games, such as charging the energy of Piccolo's Soul Cannon or holding Raditz so that he can be hit) and a final cutscene. The videos are generally taken from the original anime and are faithful to this in the representation, although they suffer from some uncertainties (and even some blunders) in the adaptation of the subtitles, problems present since the original version of the title. Once you have completed the Story mode for the first time, it is possible to play additional chapters which, if completed, unlock what if movies or alternative endings for the corresponding sagas.
The videogame package packaged by Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 has some points of contact with that of the other title, but has many differences. The duel and training mode remain substantially unchanged, the possibility of facing the world tournament in local multiplayer with seven other players is added and the approach to the story mode is heavily modified. First of all this, here renamed "Universe of the Dragon", is no longer structured in sagas and chapters, but is composed of different campaigns each associated with a character from the roster (with the exceptions of the villians and some other minor characters, for example Goku boy , taken from the first series of Dragon Ball), which covers practically the whole work and also touches the first series and Dragon Ball GT. By playing a campaign for the first time, it will be possible to face the classic story of Dragon Ball from the point of view of the main character, unlock new characters, moves, objects and transformations for him and increase his level and then "spend" the experience points in order to increase some characteristics of this, such as the attack or the ability to manage spiritual strength, giving some RPG-style brushstrokes to the game. Playing the campaign again introduces some plot and what if variations, which can have different effects: some simply make the story less repetitive, while others allow you to access new abilities and characters. Everything is approached with an almost open world approach, where the chosen protagonist flies over the map (which reproduces the Land of Dragon Ball also in the settings and buildings, such as the Kame House or the West City, or in some moments of the campaign represents the planet Namek) by visiting the places that allow you to find objects, collecting the dragon balls (which allow you to unlock collectibles and special objects) or to continue with the story. The price to pay for all this variety is the total absence of animated sequences, consequently the story is told by static sequences in which the characters speak through clouds of text. Another addition is the "Dragon arena" mode, in which characters can accumulate experience points by fighting with higher level opponents controlled by the CPU or against the characters of other people, entered through the appropriate passwords.

Time is running out, but never as fast as Freeza

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai feels the full weight of his eleven years, both from the point of view of the gameplay and from the graphic point of view. The game has aged really badly: The menus appear empty and too essential, the game environments are often bare and the animations of the characters appear woody and at times almost unnatural. The remastering work, however, accentuates these defects even more, since Dimps has practically limited itself to increasing the resolution of the game, still using the old polygons. The result is, ultimately, bordering on the grotesque, with Goku and company looking like dolls built in pongo. Another sore point are the menus and the interlude films, which in addition to suffering from this "plasticine effect" have not been converted to 16: 9, and are therefore displayed in a 4: 3 in which the side bands are covered by "curtains ". But leave aside the purely aesthetic issues (where as mentioned the "face" of the game appears furrowed by many wrinkles) also the battle system appears quite dated, especially when compared with that of other fighting games at meetings or, trivially, in subsequent chapters of the series. While playing, you can glimpse the basic skeleton that distinguishes the Budokai series, but this lacks several ribs, such as the ability to launch energy attacks and finishing moves at will (before performing these it is in fact necessary to score the combo of kicks and punches) or to execute dodges from standing in place of the common parries, and there is also the possibility of avoiding the attacks of the enemies by "teleporting" behind them. To all these defections must then obviously be added what has been said above with respect to the animations of the characters, which further accentuate the feeling of general plaster cast that gives the gameplay, and a roster limited to the first three sagas of the anime, excluding practically all the characters of the saga of Majin Buu (except Mr. Satan and Great Saiyaman, who in this sense are infiltrators). On the other hand, almost all the characters present have various transformations, some of which have no longer appeared in subsequent titles of the Budokai series (such as the perfect form of Cell with swollen muscles or the various levels of Kaiohken for Goku). Summing up this does not justify the shortcomings of the title or make it less dated, but it can certainly be an incentive for the player to try the game anyway, knowing well what it is going to meet. Ultimately Dimps, however, has limited itself to a mere graphic restyling, without however doing anything memorable, adding no new extras either to the level of functionality (and in this regard an online multiplayer would perhaps have encouraged more to play the title) or at the level of of contents, proposing in fact the same offer of eleven years ago, including also the defects related to the western localization of the cutscene subtitles.

Ok planet, give me that stupid energy

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 on the other hand has practically not aged despite the fact that nine years have passed since the release date: even after all this time it remains one of the best videogame experiences with the work of Akira Toriyama, and it is undoubtedly the best chapter of the series (it is no coincidence that the two Shin Budokai for Playstation Portable practically refer to this in its entirety). In the transition to high definition the graphic quality of the game, while not touching excellent levels or reaching the results of Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit (the only other Dragon Ball fighting game with a similar setting of this generation, also developed by Dimps) is at the height of the current generation, also thanks to the original choice of making everything in cel shading instead of using polygonal models. From this point of view the only drawback remains the bad treatment received by the game menus, re-proposed as in the case of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 1 with 4: 3 resolution and black bands masked by "digital curtains". Going to the "beating heart" of the experience, that is the gameplay, this is significantly improved compared to the other chapter in the collection, introducing various improvements (dodging, teleporting, the ability to perform special moves such as the Kamehameha at any time of the fight ... ) and adding other aspects taken from role-playing games such as the use of objects (such as the Senzu, the magic beans that restore aura and health) or passive abilities, which can have the most disparate effects, such as increasing the consumption of aura for both players or increase the character's base stats. Although all this is not a fundamental aspect of the game, it adds more fun to the experience, especially because it fits almost perfectly with the differences that exist between the various characters in terms of aura available at the beginning of the meeting and moveset: the player more "Hardcore" is called upon not only to find the character with which he has the greatest understanding and to enhance him according to his style of play, but must also take into account the capsules (objects and passive abilities) available, and mix them together with the character's techniques, these are also made as capsules to be equipped, taking into account the inventory slots that can be occupied with these. At the end of the fair, also here Dimps limited itself to re-proposing a transposition with increased resolution of the old title, adding nothing in terms of content (here the absence of online multiplayer appears even more serious, as combined with the dragon arena could have given a lot of satisfaction to fans), but unlike the case of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai manages to avoid the clear rejection thanks to the great work done nine years ago.

Verdict 6/10 Ok planet, give me that stupid energy Comment Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection is, unfortunately, a simple revival of the two original titles with the only difference of a higher resolution. The adaptation to the current generation is limited to some graphic improvements (which does not touch menus and cutscenes and in general does not convince on Dragon Ball Z: Budokai and "lives on income" on Budokai 3) and the introduction of trophies and achievements, without not even insert particularly demanding ones. The purchase is generally recommended only to lovers of the two titles re-proposed and extended, with due caution, to Dragon Ball lovers, knowing well what to expect from the work done by Dimps and Namco Bandai. Pros and cons Budokai 3 has hardly aged
The "universe of the dragon" mode is vast and long-lived x The first Budokai shows all the weight of its 11 years
x Lacking Budokai 2 it is improper to speak of collection
x Remastering work not particularly cared for
x The lack of online multiplayer weighs heavily

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