- 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 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.
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.
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.