The second entry in the legendary ‘Budokai’ series of Dragon Ball Z games tries to be bigger, better, and more complex than its predecessor. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 is a massive game with lots of characters and moments from the anime, basically a love letter for fans of Goku and his friends. But is that enough to turn Budokai 2 into a great fighting game?
Welcome to Dragon World
Unlike the first game’s story mode, one of the most divisive new inclusions of Budokai 2 is the Dragon World mode. While other fighting games are content with merely adding an “Arcade” mode and calling it a day, Budokai 2 goes the extra mile with its story, adding a fully playable board game to represent the anime’s plot.
If you’ve ever played a Mario Party game before, then you know what happens when you’re stuck looking at a virtual board for too long: eventually, it gets dreadfully boring. Luckily, the fights in Budokai 2 are as exciting and bombastic as the ones that fans of the anime are used to.
Punches and explosions galore
Fans will be pleased to see that many of their favorite characters have made it into Budokai 2’s roster. The game features over 30 characters, each of them with additional costumes and variations. Each character has unique combat animations for their signature attacks, even though each character controls more or less the same in battle.
Visuals look amazing for its time, with the cel-shaded style making the characters look very similar to their anime counterparts. As for the fighting system, there’s still a lot of work to be done for the game to achieve its full potential.
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Characters feel too similar between each other, with some of them being pretty much reskins of other fighters. While the special attacks look fantastic, the rest of the fights feel uninspired by comparison. In a market where games like Tekken redefine how a fighting game should feel, it’s hard to make excuses for Budokai 2’s unexciting combat, especially for non-fans of the series.
More than the sum of its parts
One new mechanic added to Budokai 2 is fusions. As the name implies, fusions merge two characters together into a third, more powerful form. Learning how to time your fusions could be the key to victory, as the fusions are fairly overpowered characters compared to the rest of the roster.
Just like the fusions, every aspect in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 comes together into one, nicely presented package that will be the delight of fans, but might also leave curious onlookers scratching their heads. This is a game for fans of Dragon Ball Z, but not necessarily for fighting games fans.
In the context of the series, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 is a marked improvement over its predecessor in most areas, but it lacks enough innovation to be considered a truly ‘superior’ game. For one, Dragon World is not as entertaining as the first game’s Story Mode, with the board game mechanics getting in the way of the infinitely more entertaining fights.
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The gorgeous character models and lively animations give the game tons of undeniable charm. That said, this is a game that is definitely for those who enjoy Dragon Ball Z; if you’re considering Budokai 2 as a good alternative to, say, Street Fighter, then you’d be better off looking elsewhere.
Great cel-shaded charactersPulling off fusions is a blastTons of characters from the anime
Shallow fighting systemDragon World gets boring pretty fastLots of content recycled from the first Budokai game