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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection Review (X360)

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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection Review (X360)
Namco Bandai
PS3 fans are probably tired of HD collections at this point, since they likely played the games already on PS2, but a lot of these collections feature games that weren't released on the original Xbox so they are like exciting new releases for X360 fans rather than tired rehashes. The latest HD collection is the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection. The Budokai games are pretty easily the best DBZ games ever - much better than the stack of games released this generation - so getting a collection of Budokai 1 and Budokai 3 is great news for DBZ fans that didn't experience the games on PS2 or GameCube. Our full review has all of the details.
Game Details

  • Publisher: Namco Bandai
  • Developer: Dimps
  • ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Pros: Nice visuals for both games; Budokai 3 is awesome; DBZ fans will love it
  • Cons: Budokai 1 only so-so; no Budokai 2; not the original music

The Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection includes Budokai 1 and Budokai 3. The omission of Budokai 2 is kind of a letdown since it actually added a neat board game mechanic to the single-player rather than just having a straightforward series of battles like the other two games. With that said however, the best and most important game in the series, Budokai 3, is here in all of its glory.

Neither game features online play, but these games are better as single-player, story driven experiences anyway, so we don't mind. The gameplay is too simplistic and repetitive to make fighting against human opponents that entertaining for long. There are local multiplayer options, though, if you do want to give it a try.

Budokai 1

Namco Bandai
Budokai 1 is kind of simple and bare bones with 20+ characters (DBZ character profiles) and only covers up through the Cell Games saga (basic DBZ story primer). It has a versus mode, World Tournament mode where you play through a few rounds of a tournament, a fantastic story mode, and a somewhat goofy mode called Legend of Hercule where you play as Mr. Satan through a series of battles. The story mode in Budokai 1 is arguably the best in the series, since it pretty much re-creates all of the key scenes from the TV show with the in-game engine. It is pretty short, however, since it doesn't force you to spend hours yelling at your opponent or charging power levels, so you can whip through the whole story mode in an hour or so. The gameplay is fairly simplistic as well, as all of the character pretty much play the same and there isn't a lot of depth. You just have punch, kick, block, and energy attacks, and different button combinations result in different moves, but the moves lists aren't exactly huge and fights tend to all play out mostly the same way.

Budokai 3

Budokai 3 is a much different beast, however. It features more than 40 characters (tips on how to unlock them all) and covers the entire DBZ series through the end of the Majin Buu saga, and it also includes the DBZ movies and even Dragon Ball GT. The story mode is also massive this time around and you can play through it with multiple characters. In a nice touch, the story can be different from one playthrough to the next depending on choices you make, so instead of fighting Frieza you might fight Cooler instead, or rather than Kid Buu at the end of the game you could fight Broly or Omega Shenron. The story mode is also kind of fun because rather than just playing through a succession of fights, you actually get to explore a bit and freely fly around the worlds you're on.

Budokai 3 also greatly steps up the gameplay with a huge amount of moves for each character as well as the ability to customize characters by assigning different capsule techniques to them to change how they play. The basics of the fighting is still the same as it was in Budokai 1 - punch, kick, block, energy attack - but now you have a ton of new moves to use such as transformations to different forms, use special items, enter hyper mode that lets you unleash massive and devastating attacks, fuse with other characters, teleport to counter incoming attacks, beam struggle events when two energy beams collide, and much more. The gameplay in Budokai 3 gives you all of the tools you need to make the battles play out just like they do on the TV show. Unleashing massive energy attacks, knocking opponents through mountains, or going Super Saiyan 4 is all possible and surprisingly easy to do here.

Namco Bandai
Graphics & Sound

The presentation is surprisingly nice for both games included here. The game comes on one disc and you select which title you want to play from the menu. Both games use 3D models, but with different texture styles that create very different results. Budokai 1 is more blocky and simple while Budokai 3 is a more traditional cel-shaded style that has a lot more detail. Both games look really good, despite their age, with Budokai 3 in particular looking especially sharp and fantastic in high definition.

The sound is also well done. Both games feature the Funimation English voice dub actors, but Budokai 3 also features the Japanese voices as well if you want. One issue with both games is that the music had to be completely replaced because the original music for the games was essentially admitted by the composer to be plagiarized. The new music is remixed from the soundtracks of more recently released DBZ games, so it all works fine.

Bottom Line

All in all, the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection is pretty solid. Budokai 3 by itself is almost worth the $40 MSRP by itself, but you're also getting the original Budokai to go with it, which is nice just to see how far the series advanced between the two releases. The games play well. Have tons of features. And look shockingly great in high def. If you are a Dragon Ball Z fan, you won't find a better fighter than Budokai 3. The newer DBZ games got kind of bloated and over complicated and aren't nearly as fun as the Budokai series. We highly recommend the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection for a purchase for any DBZ fan.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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