Editor’s Note: The reviewer makes note below that the game does not have a widescreeen setting. Following submission, he discovered it indeed DOES have a widescreen presentation. We apologize for any inconvenience this inconsistency may have created, although this will not impact the final score.
The Dragon Ball series has been one of the most popular animes for the 80’s and 90’s kids. Bunch of superhuman beings with powers that can destroy whole planets...what’s not to love? Well, naturally, a video game adaptation took place back when the Gamecube and PS2 were going strong, and is arguably one of the best fighting games of its generation. Dragon Ball Z Budokai Collection HD takes the ever-so-popular Dragon Ball Z Budokai 1 & 3 and gives it the HD treatment with ‘stunning’ 1080p graphics and fun action in today’s heavily equipped game lineup. However, does reviving a 10-year old game really benefit us today?
I’ve played my fair share of fighting games, and was actually very excited to see this one plop onto my desk. I started getting nostalgic after popping the game in as I remember countless nights of me and a few friends playing through both games to unlock every character and to see who was better than who. Upon booting it up, you are given the option to choose either Dragon Ball Budokai 1 or 3, and for the purpose of the review, unless otherwise stated, I will be reviewing the game as a whole, not as individual titles.
"Even though it was given a resolution increase, you still can’t play the game widescreen, and porting a 10 year old graphics and physics engine doesn’t make it better."
The biggest problem with this title is that it aged very, very poorly. I find it was a crucial mistake to bring it back without adding additional features such as Xbox Live multiplayer, more characters, or even a revamped engine. Needless to say, this is quite literally a port, and nothing more. Now, maybe I am being too tough, but when compared to what today’s standard is for a game, many aspects of Bodokai just fell short. The biggest problem I found was with the story, and maybe that is being a bit unfair to complain about it as it seems like traditional fighting games never really have decent storylines as it is, but it is almost like they didn’t even try here. With the amount of content available inside the Dragon Ball anime universe, you would think they would have done a much better job trying to piece it together in a way that makes sense. Now, I remember vividly what is going on in this game due to my freak incredible knowledge of the Dragon Ball Z anime, but to someone who is just being introduced to the series, whether that be Budokai 1 or 3, it’s just a complete mess. For example, you will be flying around trying to figure out what is going on, just to be greeted by an enemy who goes by the name of Freeza and all of a sudden, Goku has no shirt and the world is in pieces.
Other things such as unlockables and new characters are always nice, especially in Dragon Ball Z. The catch is that you need to unlock most of them in the game’s story mode which was a bit tiring for myself as tedium set in. It just felt like it was going on and on and on. Ultimately though, it was worth the reward in the end because it enabled the game to be played in a variety of ways with all the moves and skills that become available, especially in Budokai 3.
The multiplayer in the game is where it takes a 180 degree turn, and by that I mean fun as hell. Just the concept of its versus scene is where it grips me by the hand and forces me to play. It’s overall an addicting game when you aren’t concerned about the storyline. Speaking of, as you play through the story mode, you can unlock new characters and moves for each character, and the game even gives you the ability to customize your characters movesets which can really give you the leading edge depending on how you play. One part the multiplayer falls through on is the utilization of Xbox Live. This frustrates me so much that you can’t play online with others as this would have been the key selling point of this title. Games like Dead or Alive 5 and Soulcaliber are great, but even better when you can beat up random strangers using the most ridiculous move combo you’ve mastered.
How did the game look though? Well, if you polish a game meant to be run on the Gamecube, it is going to look like a smoother, brighter Gamecube game, but thats it. You can’t play any of the games on a widescreen setting, and to call it “1080p graphics” almost seems like a sham. Sure, the quality is improved, but it still looks like it did back on the classic consoles. It seems like unnecessary work went into ‘improving’ this title.
Now, if I was to choose a favorite based on the single-player modes, it would be Dragon Ball Budokai 1. For what it’s worth, the story didn’t jump around as much as the third game, and the characters had more complicated moves, making it a challenge to actually pull off some of the specials. Although, the third game looked more appealing, it fails when it comes to the narrative, difficulty, and overall fighting mechanics. If I was to choose which one based on multiplayer, that would be tough, but I think Dragon Ball Budokai 3 takes the crown. Even though the multiplayer in both games felt complete, a much larger roster was included in the third game, along with a larger library of attacks. The third one is the one I’d have to choose if you were going based on actual versus-play concepts.
As a huge fan of the series back when it was first released, I am severely disappointed in this title. First, it wasn’t a true “collection”, as it was missing Dragon Ball Z Budokai 2, which was probably my favorite game in the series back on the Gamecube. To continue, the story was bleak and there was no online support, and it clearly showed that not much work was put into making this a good quality port. Even though it was given a resolution increase, you still can’t play the game widescreen, and porting a 10 year old graphics and physics engine doesn’t make it better. Unless you and a friend are going to be taking a nostalgia trip through memory-lane, it is best to steer clear of this title and maybe lockdown a copy of Persona 4 Arena or Dead or Alive 5.
Release date : 2012-11-06
Publisher : BANDAI
Developer : Dimps
Gameplay : Fighting & Wrestling
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