Budokai HD Got Right
- + Fun storyline that you'll want to play again
- + Budokai 3 looks great in HD
Budokai HD Got Wrong
- - Omission of Budokai 2
- - Original Budokai is overshadowed by its successor
Keeping up with the recent trend of PlayStation-exclusive HD remakes, the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection is sure to appease fans of the classic television show and the Budokai fighting series on the PS2. Even for those of you who never got into the show – the Budokai HD Collection provides plenty of content to prove itself a worthy purchase. If you’re a fan of the series now is time to revisit the classic 3D fighter and help Goku and friends protect the Earth by defeating various iconic enemies and collecting all seven dragon balls.
Included in the Budokai HD Collection are Dragon Ball Z: Budokai and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3. A strange decision to not include Budokai 2, perhaps, however Namco presumably judged the differences between Budokai 2&3 to be too scarce to warrant its inclusion in the collection.
In the inaugural game in the series, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai (released in 2002), players can take their pick from up to 23 playable characters (who you’ll unlock as you progress through story mode) and choose from a variety of enjoyable game modes. In the story mode, which follows the arc of the television series, you’ll face many familiar foes spanning various sagas, ending with Gohan’s final encounter with Cell. While only a mere portion of the DBZ timeline, it’s refreshing to be able to interactively relive childhood memories from the show – especially in a day and age where many fighting games still underestimate the importance of a good story mode.
Further included is the classic “Duel Mode” where players can face off locally against another player or computer, as well as “World Match”, essentially the World Martial Arts Tournament, where players can face off in an attempt to win rewards in the form of character customization abilities.
In terms of visuals, Budokai has been given a huge facelift, however the character models from 2002 are still evident, adding more of a nostalgic feel to the game. A few minor additions have also been included in the remastering, in the form of new video transitions, title sequences and a completely new soundtrack. In a nutshell, you won’t find anything new now than you would have ten years ago.
Budokai 3 is where the collection really stands out, however. An improvement in all ways over the original Budokai, the game features a deeper and more interactive story mode, allowing players to physically fly across the planet to their objective, as well as 42 playable characters. With the standard Duel and World Tournament modes also returning, it really makes one question whether the inclusion of the original Budokai was really necessary at all.
Budokai 3 possesses virtually the same initial storyline as its predecessor, though numerous characters from the DBZ movies such as Cooler and Broly make appearances, with Dragon Ball GT and the original Dragon Ball series also included. The “Dragon Universe” story mode also features character customization, where players can spend “Z Points” after defeating enemies to upgrade character attributes such as health, strength and ki.
On a technical standpoint, Budokai 3 is miles ahead of its packaged brother. The game looks far sharper and the cel-shaded animation design is gone, creating a more authentic style that truly shines in HD. Again, aside from the soundtrack and graphical overhaul, Budokai 3 remains the same as it did upon release eight years ago.
The Final Verdict
In short, the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection is one for fans of the series, while newcomers can certainly have some fun with it too. The exclusion of Budokai 2 seems a tad lazy and certainly takes away from what could have been a complete collection – especially when considering there is no real advantage to playing the original Budokai over its more polished successor, Budokai 3. The two games basically follow the same story arc and while Budokai 3 will provide an enjoyable trip down memory lane, serious questions can be raised regarding the omission of the second title in the series and whether it was worth including the original at all.
By Jake Galouzis