Reviewed: December 27, 2007
Released: December 3, 2007
In the world of anime, Dragon Ball Z has been one of the most heavily watched shows in history. So it makes sense that the video game world has also seen its fair share of the Dragon Ball magic over the years. Spike Co. Ltd, established in November of 2005 has made a name for themselves in the last few years as being the developers of the ever popular Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi series. Last year, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 was single handedly the best fighter on the Wii, a first for the console. Now here we are one year later with Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 for the Nintendo Wii.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a 3D fighter like its predecessors and like the titles before it, has one of the longest game titles I have ever seen. You play as your favorite DBZ characters as you go through any of the numerous game modes available to you.
While I’m guilty of being a button-masher when it comes to fighting games I still enjoy taking a break from my beloved shooters to enjoy a few good fighters. I have been a semi-follower of the TV series for a long time and have played several titles in the Dragon Ball Franchise. Like many others I’ve been guilty of skipping over several DBZ titles, but the one series I always seem to come back to is the Budokai Tenkaichi series. Among my favorite non-Dragon Ball fighters are Darkstalkers series and the very popular title Bleach DS: The Blade of Fate.
The interface of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is pretty much no different from last year’s title. As this is a fighter, you are presented with the very bars across the top of the screen. The Health Bar and Time Limit is well… a no-brainer, but the Ki Gauge and Blast Stock are perhaps one of the most important things to keep an eye on. The Ki Gauge serves as your Special Bar. The gauge fills up as you successfully lay the smack down on your opponents. You can also raise your Ki by pressing on the D-Pad. When you perform Ki Wave Blasts and some special attacks your Ki supply is depleted.
Your Blast Stock is displayed to the left of the Ki Gauge and underneath your characters picture. The Blast Stock unlike the Ki Gauge fills up automatically during battles. When the Stock fills a blue bubble appears and the stock continues to fill up again. The purpose of the Blast Stock is to allow you to perform Blast 1 attacks. The more powerful Blast 1 attacks such as solar Flare will take up to 2 full bubbles to execute. There are many moves for you to discover by pressing and holding the D-Pad down and moving the Wii Remote in different directions.
While Tenkaichi 3 is a fighter first and foremost, there is a bit of Role-playing mixed in to shake things up a bit. The Evolution Z mode allows you to customize any of the available characters into your own custom fighter. During your experience with all the other modes you gain Z Points for being victorious in battle. These Z Points are then in turn used to buy new skills and items from Launch’s item Shop. Z points can also be to increase your fighter’s stats.
There are 10 different modes at your disposal in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3. The main premise of Tenkaichi 3 is the Dragon History mode, and while it was not as mighty storyline wise as the last title, it is still one of my favorite parts of the Tenkaichi titles. Here you relive the greatest battles in the DBZ universe first hand. Sure we see this mode in every title one way or the other but it wouldn’t be a Dragon Ball title without it.
You can pretty much play every Saga you can think of here. You can select the difficulty of your opponents, find Potara earrings, travel to distant planets and even collect the famed Dragon Balls themselves. The only thing is that once you find a Dragon Ball hidden in the various stages you have to win the matches to keep it.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 features several fighting modes such as Ultimate Battle, Dragon World Tour and Duel. Ultimate battle for those not familiar with the series is a challenge mode. Here you face the best in a series of ladder-style challenges. There are two main paths you can take in Ultimate Battle. The first is Sim Dragon and no it has nothing to do with those Sims. Sim Dragon is a battle simulator which helps you train to become the best fighter.
You rack up a score as you win battles and go through events. But this only last for 10 days to train before the real battles begin and luckily it doesn’t operate in real time. Time passes via commands and events. The other path is called Mission 100 and is a ladder-based tournament. Here you must meet certain conditions to win. Points won here can be used to purchase items and powers in Evolution Z mode.
Duel Mode is basically the offline multiplayer mode of Tenkaichi 3. Here you can pick your favorite character and fight against the computer, a friend, or watch two computer controlled fighter battle it out. You can pick one of the three battle types to play in Duel mode, Single, Team and DP battle. DP Battle mode is quite interesting in the fact that it uses a unique point system to determine the winner. I actually really liked this mode quite a bit.
No Budokai Tenkaichi title would be complete without a Tenkaichi tournament and this title doesn’t fail to disappoint. In Dragon World Tour you have four main tournaments to choose from. World Tour is the Budokai Tenkaichi tournament itself and you must defeat your enemies in a ring. There are three different difficulties to fight your way through. Each one is unlocked by beating the previous and asks the question, “Can you beat them all?”
The next tournament is the World Martial Arts Big Tournament. Here there is no ring, you fight anywhere but the rings in this knockdown drag out street brawl. The Otherworld Tournament pits you up against some of the greatest fighters in the known Dragon Ball universe. But perhaps my favorite mode is the “Cell Games.” Here you fight it out on the Cell Stage with no rules what so ever. This is probably the most brutal mode in the entire game.
While I did thoroughly enjoy all the modes available, one stuck out as a personal favorite. That would be the Dragon Net battles. For the first time ever in Dragon Ball history you can play with friends online. Here you can do battle with default characters in Normal Battle, use your Custom fighter in Custom match or use both on a Friend battle. You can also use your hard earned Z Points on the line and see what your ranking is at the end of battle. The only real nuisance with Dragon Net is the lag that rears its ugly head from time to time.
The controls of Tenkaichi 3 are very responsive with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo, but it also plays very nicely with the Classic Controller as well. I will say that you will get a workout with this title, that’s for sure. The only thing though is that you pretty much have to relearn the controls if you switch back and forth between control types. It’s not that hard to do and in the end attacks are often boiled down to two buttons or so in the end.
The graphics of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is actually very well done. The cel-shaded look is back from previous titles and presents the player with a very clean look. The detail that went into all 161 characters is amazing. Yes I did say 161 characters. That makes this the most ambitious Dragon Ball Z yet.
The beginning video was quite good but what I really impressed with was the cut scenes they blended seamlessly into the fights. The only thing better than that was the attacks, each attack is beautifully done from Vegeta’s Galick Gun to Syn Shenron’s devastating Blazing Storm.
The sound of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is remarkably good. A large part of that has to do with most, if not of the show’s voice actors putting their voices behind the game version. It is always a pleasant experience when this happens, because you have watched these characters for so long and you are familiar with their voices that it seems unnatural to get someone else to play the parts.
I was impressed with not only the sound effects to go along with the gorgeous attacks, but the little things like the characters individually speaking on the main menu when you highlight each option.
The main thing that I appreciate in a Dragon Ball title is the amount of stuff there is to do. Sure it been done before but they keep adding on features with every release. The addition of online play makes this title even more appealing to me. After a while of playing against your buddies you can pretty much trounce them over time, but with an online feature you can really put your gaming skills to the test. You can spend a lot of time here, but if the online mode doesn’t tickle your fancy then you will have plenty of things to do on the offline side of things.
The main Story mode is by no means a push over on any difficulty and I often found myself frustrated when I got stuck on a certain few battles, but I still had a great time playing. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 retails for $50 dollars and is worth every penny.
All in all, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a pretty solid title. With all the modes there are to do and the added online play I had plenty to keep myself busy. Last year’s title was good, but this one has it beat. The different controller settings that could be used were a big plus especially when my arms were worn out from all the movement with the Wii Remote. I highly recommend this title to anyone who is a fan of the series or even the games. This is definitely a must have for the Wii.