Dragon Ball Z: Budokai (simply Dragon Ball Z in Japan) is a series of fighting video games based on the anime series Dragon Ball Z, itself part of the larger Dragon Ball franchise.
The Budokai series plays like a typical 2-D fighting game. As well as including the regular punch and kick buttons, there is the ability to shoot ki blasts, which can also be used in specific special moves. The special moves are mainly taken directly from the anime, including Goku's Kamehameha, Vegeta's Galick Gun and Frieza's Death Beam. Although these mechanics have stuck with the series, other ideas such as the "Hyper Mode", the ability to move at incredible speeds, fly freely, and "Beam Struggles" between two characters' beam attacks, were later replaced in favour of other techniques.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai (2002)
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, released as Dragon Ball Z (Doragon Bōru Zetto) in Japan, is a fighting game released for the PlayStation 2 on November 2, 2002, in Europe and on December 3, 2002, in North America, and for the Nintendo GameCube on October 28, 2003, in North America and on November 14, 2003, in Europe. It is the first Budokai game of the series and the first Dragon Ball Z game to be released in all of Europe instead of having specific releases in France, Spain, and Portugal like earlier games. The game was released in Japan by Bandai on the PlayStation 2 on February 13, 2003, and on the Nintendo GameCube on November 28, 2003. It was developed by Dimps and published by Infogrames and later by Atari as a Greatest Hits title for the PlayStation 2 in North America.
The game includes a total of 23 playable characters, and the story follows the first three chapters of the Dragon Ball Z timeline starting with Goku and Piccolo's fight with Raditz in the Saiyan Saga, up to Gohan's final battle with Cell in the Android Saga. Features include a story mode, a versus mode, a tournament stage, a practice mode, and an items shop which allows players to purchase customization abilities using money gained through challenges in the story mode and tournament victories to make custom fighters. Story mode is divided into special chapters, initially having the player fight predominantly as Goku and Gohan through the Saiyan, Namek and Android Sagas before unlocking bonus chapters from different perspectives like Piccolo and Vegeta. The story mode also includes a few "what if" episodes to play with the villains of each saga, retelling iconic Dragon Ball events with different outcomes. A cel-shading effect was added to the graphics in the GameCube version.
The North American versions feature English voice acting from the North American Funimation dub, while the European versions feature the original Japanese voice acting and several European languages text translations.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 (2003)
Main article: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2, released as Dragon Ball Z 2 (ドラゴンボールZ2, Doragon Bōru Zetto Tsū) in Japan, is a fighting game and a sequel to Dragon Ball Z: Budokai and was developed by Dimps and published by Atari for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube. It was released for the PlayStation 2 in North America on December 4, 2003, and on the Nintendo GameCube on December 15, 2004. The game was published in Japan by Bandai and released for the PlayStation 2 on February 5, 2004.
The game features a tournament stage, versus mode, and an item shop. Unlike its predecessor, Budokai 2's story mode, called Dragon World, introduces a unique retelling of all four chapters of Z and plays like a board game as the player assembles a team of Z-fighters alongside Goku to challenge the series' villains. The game has 31 playable characters, including fusions of different fighters, and Majin Buu's various absorbed forms. Many of these forms are unique to Budokai 2, including an original fusion between Tien and Yamcha and Super Buu absorbing Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, and Tien and Yamcha simultaneously, which does not appear in future games. The Japanese version of the game adds new costumes as well as a new stage in story mode. Some of the added costumes were included in the North American GameCube version.
Once again, the North American versions feature English voice acting from the North American Funimation dub. The European PlayStation 2 version also features it, while the later European GameCube version switched back to the original Japanese voice acting because of negative feedback from players who were used to the Japanese dub since the 16-bit era.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 (2004)
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, released as Dragon Ball Z 3 (Doragon Bōru Zetto Surī) in Japan, is a fighting game developed by Dimps and published by Atari for the PlayStation 2. It was released on November 16, 2004, in North America in both a standard and Limited Edition release, the latter of which included a DVD featuring a behind the scenes looks at the game's development. In Europe, it was released on November 19, 2004 by Bandai, who also released the game in Japan on February 10, 2005.
The Japanese version of Budokai 3 added several costumes not present in the North American and European versions. The North American Greatest Hits version of Budokai 3 adds these costumes, as well as the option to switch the audio to Japanese for the first time in North America. This version was also released in Europe as a re-release of the game under the title Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 – Collector's Edition. From this release onwards, all Dragon Ball Z games in North America and Europe were released with dual voice language options in English and Japanese. as well as some graphical tweaks.
It received runner-up placements in GameSpot's 2004 "Best Fighting Game" and "Best Game Based on a TV or Film Property" award categories across all platforms.
Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai (2006)
Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai (Doragon Bōru Zetto Shin Budôkai, Dragon Ball Z: True Tournament) is a fighting video game part of the Dragon Ball Z franchise, developed by Dimps and released in North America on March 7, 2006, in Europe on May 25, 2006, and in Japan on April 20, 2006, for the PlayStation Portable. The game's story mode is based on the events of the movie Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn. The choices the player makes in the story determine how the story evolves.
Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai – Another Road (2007)
Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai – Another Road (dbz shin budokai 2 (Doragon Bōru Zetto Shin Budôkai Tzū, Dragon Ball Z: True Tournament 2) in Japan and Europe).
The game features an original story that tells the tale of Majin Buu being released in Future Trunks' timeline. As Majin Buu is too strong for Trunks to handle alone, he uses his time machine to recruit the original Z warriors for assistance, eventually succeeding in the destruction of Majin Buu.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai – HD Collection (2012)
The Dragon Ball Z: Budokai – HD Collection is a video game compilation that includes remastered versions of Budokai and Budokai 3, alongside full Trophy and Achievements support. The collection was released in Europe on November 2, 2012, and in North America on November 6, 2012, for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Both games include the optional original Japanese language track, but also feature reused soundtracks from the US and European versions of the Budokai Tenkaichi games (known in Japan as the Sparking! series), whereas the soundtracks from the original PS2 versions were made by Kenji Yamamoto. This is because Yamamoto had used actual songs as bases for the music for the Dragon Ball Z games he worked on were replaced by Shunsuke's scores. Yamamoto was fired by Toei Animation in 2011, and all the soundtracks he did for the Dragon Ball games and Dragon Ball Z Kai were also replaced by Shunsuke's scores.