Anyway, onto todays one, I'll be inducting into the Greatest Games of All Time Hall of Fame, the "Dragonball Z: Budokai" and "Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi" series.
If you haven't watched the anime, this might be a little heavy for you, so I'll do my best here. I'll be keeping out of events in the actual anime story as best as possible.
Dragonball Z: Budokai
Console: Playstation2 and Gamecube
Released: 2002 and 2003
The first game in the series was in Japanese only. The developers were unsure how the game would sell in the American and European market, so as a cheaper option, they added English subtitles for those editions in case they didn't sell well. However, they did. Resulting in every single sequel bearing the original English voice actors.
The Story Mode consists of 3D cutscenes adapted from the series (though more close to the manga than the anime). Unlike later Budokai games, the story mode is similar to most other fighting games (in which cutscenes occur between battles).
The story mode covers 3 Sagas - Saiyan, Namek, Android - and the player automatically collects capsules (or sometimes Dragon Balls) at the end of each battle. Depending on which episode is being played, the playable characters are Goku, Gohan, Piccolo and Vegeta. At the end of every saga there are bonus what if episodes, and one plays as the main villain of that saga; Vegeta, Freeza and Cell respectively.
In Vegeta's storyline, Vegeta: Saiyan Prince, Vegeta and Goku then duel, and Vegeta defeats him with minimum effort, driven by the desire to avenge Nappa. Then Krillin and Gohan turn up, and Vegeta beats them separately. After the battle, Vegeta speaks to himself for a minute while Yajirobe sneaks up behind him. Vegeta hears Yajirobe, and, impressed by Yajirobe's bravery, offers him to become his next pupil. Yajirobe refuses, stating that he doesn't want to end up like Nappa. Enraged at being reminded of Nappa's death, Vegeta screams in anger, and becomes a Super Saiyan. The episode ends.
In Freeza's storyline, Freeza's Rage, Freeza successfully beats Goku, Piccolo, Vegeta, Krillin and Gohan in battle. He then succeeds in wishing for immortality. Blowing up Namek, Freeza returns to his spaceship, deciding to destroy Earth next. The episode ends.
In Cell's storyline, A Cold-Blooded Assassin, Cell attempts to absorb 17 and 18, and successfully beats 16 in battle. He then absorbs 17, but while attempting to absorb 18 Krillin jumps in the way, causing Cell to accidentally absorb Kuririn and lose a lot of power. Yamcha and Tien then show up to challenge the weakened Cell. He just manages to beat Yamcha, but he is then killed by Tien. The real Cell then wakes up in the middle of the Cell Ring, realising that it was a dream. The episode ends.
The gameplay present in Budokai was far faster than any similar fighting games of its time (and to date). No Dragonball Z game would be complete without the signiture moves from the anime, so all of these were incorporated into the game. The most basic combos such as Square, Square, Square, Square, Square, Circle would yield the basic signiture moves like the Kamehameha or Death Beam. Other combos like Square, Square, Triangle, Triangle, Circle would give the more powerful moves like Final Flash. Then the finishing moves were more complicated which I'm not going to try and spell out. There was also "burst mode" where two characters would simultaneously try to knock the other back, resulting in a fast paced close combat punchout.
All in all a good game, but much to be improved as was the case in it's sequel.....
Dragonball Z: Budokai 2
Console: Playstation 2 and Gamecube
Released: 2003 and 2004
This time, the game featured the English voice actors, but also utilised the cel-shading graphics, to make the game look more like the anime. In games like XIII, the cel-shaded graphics were used quite poorly IMHO, but the Budokai games improved and refined this flawless graphic engine.
Where Budokai 1 had characters up to the Android Saga, Budokai 2 has characters up to the Kid Buu Saga. It also removed 4 characters, Zarbon, Dodoria, Kid Gohan, and Android 19. Other differences are that Frieza and Cell no longer need to charge up to their most powerful forms as they are already in those forms. Unlike the previous Budokai game Goku and Vegeta can now charge up to their highest forms used in Dragon Ball Z. There are also new characters such as Tiencha, Gokule, and Kuriza (although Kuriza is just a costume for Frieza in the Japanese version of the game). These characters are achieved through fusion, a concept introduced in the anime during the Majin Buu saga and hence translated over into the game.
Story mode in Budokai 2 consists of a board game-like adventure called Dragon World. In this mode, you play as Goku and along with one or more allies, travel around the 9 different levels defeating enemies, and collecting items such as money, capsules or Dragon Balls. After you complete the game, if you have collected all seven Dragon Balls, you are able to make a "wish" which lets you choose one from three special capsules, which include Breakthrough capsules (these allow a player to use all of a character's moves and abilities at once), Fusion capsules, and Bulma costumes.
This story mode received harsh criticism. Whilst it was in some ways more enjoyable than its predecessor, it was very long, repetitive having to fight the same person and broadly unfaithful to the anime storyline.
The game maintained the impressive fast pace of its predecessor, but added in some nifty new features. The health bar was overhauled. In the previous game characters had 3 health bars, green, yellow, red, which got progressively worse the more damage you received. The problem with this was that all characters had the same health. To counter this, in Budokai 2, they introduced more health bars above the green one, blue, purple and silver I think. So in combat, if you were fighting a tougher opponent, he would have more health than you.
Unfortunately because of the story mode blunder and the exhausting habit of spinning the right analog stick, improvements still had to be made. Thankfully, this came in the shape that was the blessed Budokai 3, the epiphany of the Budokai series.
Dragonball Z: Budokai 3
Console: Playstation 2
Story mode in Budokai 3 consists of a world map called Dragon Universe. In this mode, you play as 11 characters, travelling around the Earth or Namek in Dragonball Z's four main sagas: Saiyan, Freeza, Cell, and Majin Buu, and collecting items such as money, capsules or Dragon Balls. After you complete the game, if you have collected all seven Dragon Balls, you are able to make a "wish" which lets you choose one from three special capsules, which include Breakthrough capsules (these allow a player to use all of a character's moves and abilities at once), "Memories of ... Capsules", and Equipment Capsules.
The various characters are each unlocked by completing a required task within Dragon Universe. Example: Dr. Gero is unlocked by defeating Dr. Gero with Yamcha in the Android Saga.
The stories in the Dragonball Z universe change after the first time they are played.
Where Budokai 1 had characters up to the Android Saga and Budokai 2 had characters up to the Kid Buu Saga, Budokai 3 has characters from Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Z movie such as Cooler, Broly, Bardock, Super Saiyan 4 Goku, Gogeta, Kid Goku, Super Saiyan 4 Vegeta, Uub and Omega Shenron.
Ki (energy) - The Ki system is completely revamped from the past two Budokai games. Each character now has a base Ki level, Ki will increase/decrease slowly until it is at base Ki level. If Ki is higher than the base Ki, then a bonus in attack is acquired, and defense is decreased the further it goes below the base Ki. Transformations, now instead of draining Ki slowly, can increase base Ki, increase base attack power, and exaggerate said increases/decreases in stats when above/below base Ki. Additionally, auras have been redone, and now look very close to the auras seen on the anime.
Transformation - In the previous two games, a transformation gradually drained ki, and being knocked down with less than the ki level needed to transform would revert the transformation. In Budokai 3, a transformation will instead increase the base ki level, and is only reverted if a character is hit with less than one ki gauge, or if they allow hyper mode to run out. Additionally, some transformations (like Cell, Broly and Freeza's) are irreversible.
Fatigue - A new fatigue meter is added to the HUD, it increases during battle. It's most important during an ultimate attack, but if fatigue is maxed out, a character will become exhausted if knocked down with less than one Ki gauge full.
Dodging - By pressing guard just before being attacked, the character will dodge the attack completely, at the cost of a little ki
Teleport Counters - Before any attack connects, a character can teleport behind the attacking character and counter-attack at the cost of 3 ki bars.
Items - Item capsules can be equipped and used in battle. Items can only be used once, and have various effects ranging from increasing health to granting temporary Ki blast immunity. If a character is interrupted while trying to use an item, the item is lost.
Beam Struggle - If two beam attacks collide, instead of canceling each other out, a beam struggle is activated. The two characters rotate control sticks in order to push the two beams to one character or the other.
Hyper Mode - By pressing (L2), a character enters Hyper Mode. They turn red, and their Ki slowly decreases, as they lose the ability to block. In Hyper Mode, a character is immune to most weak melee attacks, if Hyper Mode is allowed to run out, the character is fatigued and loses any applicable transformations. Hyper Mode is necessary to start Dragon Rushes and Ultimate Attacks. Hyper Mode is rather wildly reviled by veteran players due to the constant drain, the fact that the user slows down, and how easy they become to avoid until they are out of Ki and left helpless by fatigue
Dragon Rush - If a character knocks another character away while in Hyper Mode, that character can start a Dragon Rush. A Dragon Rush is a three part game of chance, where both characters choose one of the four buttons. If the defender can pick the same button as the attacker, the Dragon Rush is ended, however, after each part, the number of buttons is decreased. If all three parts connect, the attacking character launches a powerful finisher
Ultimate Attacks - When in Hyper Mode, characters can launch powerful (and quite cinematic) ultimate attacks. Players use timing to stop a gauge just before it fills up. Depending on the results, the attack can have its power reduced, miss, or be sent back to the attacker. Fusion is also executed in the same way, but the mechanics for fusion are the same as they are in Budokai 2.
Fusion - While still performed the same way, and still providing infinite Ki, dance fusion now instantly ends when the timer runs down to zero (whereas in the previous game, dance fusion was only reverted when your character falls over after the timer runs out). Fusion is also executed in Hyper Mode, just like an ultimate attack.
Super Saiyan 4 - Goku and Vegeta can now transform to the Super Saiyan 4 level, changing their Kamahemeha and Galick Gun attacks into 10X Kamehameha and Final Shine, respectively. These attacks are also 72% stronger than their basic versions.
"Free Flight" - By holding up or down while doing a backward dash, characters can ascend and descend, where in the past, a player had to be hit into the sky. This is a helpful feature as larger characters have an easier time hitting smaller characters while others simply fight less effectively in the air.
This game was so well received because the developers went about improving the gameplay, as opposed to just improving the graphics and adding more characters. The video below is a review by some dude who works for gamespot I found on youtube, but he get's the point across well, and the moving visual aids will explain better in words what I've been trying to do for the rest of this blog.
And this one, though by some nobody, explains the whole transformation deal.
Moving on then beyond the Budokai series.....
Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi
Console: Playstation 2
The game is not considered a part of the Budokai series of games, despite its misleading title. In addition to a completely different game engine, the game was developed by an entirely different company (Spike as opposed to Dimps). The game is also titled differently from the rest of the Budokai series in Japan. Were it a true Budokai game, it would have been Dragon Ball Z 4 in Japan. Speculation on the English re-title is that Atari chose to market the game as part of the Budokai series in order to capitalize on a pre-existing market of fans already familiar with said game series. The English version also uses a great deal of sound effects and background music made for the Budokai series.
The game is quite different from the often-compared Budokai series; it uses a "behind-the-back" camera perspective. Many fans say that the game feels like a combination of the Budokai series and the game engine from Idainaru Doragonbôru Densetsu for Sega Saturn and PlayStation. Although the engine is more like a typical third-person shooter, it doesn't take to long to master.
Also different from the Budokai series (and more of a throw-back to games from the Super Famicom era), there are no "in-game transformations." Instead, each form is treated as its own character, with varying stats, movesets and fighting styles, similar to Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors while free roam is similar to Dragon Ball Z Sagas.
This game also introduced new game modes:
Z Battle Gate (Story Mode)
The story mode of the game, Z Battle Gate, progresses similar to the story modes in previous games. Players can select battles from different sagas and proceed through the story of Dragon Ball Z. The battles are bookended with players are given an objective to accomplish (such as finishing the battle with a certain special move, or within a certain amount of time). The story mode branches out, allowing for a few battles that were not originally in the story. Dragon Balls can be found inside the destructible environment. After clearing some gates, an extra fight may or may not be unlocked. It also shows two new stories when the movie and Dragon Ball GT villains fight the Z-Fighters and a tournament which involves Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z characters.
The only problem with this story mode was that display was incredibly boring, and in some battle gates there were FAR too many individual fights.
This new mode pits whichever fighter the player chooses against 100 characters. There are winning points and ranks in this mode. Depending on how the battle went, players get positive or negative winning points. However, if the player ends up with no winning points, the game is over and the player must start back at Rank 100 (the game starts off at Rank 100). Occasionally, a different fighter (always secret characters) will "break in" (interrupt the fight before it begins). Players get more winning points for defeating them, but lose more than usual if they do not defeat them. Also, if the player wins five straight normal fights, someone five ranks ahead will offer a challenge. Completion of this challenge moves the player five ranks up.
Despite not being a part of the series, the vast majority of characters from the Budokai series once again make an appearance. Additional villains such as Zarbon and Dodoria from the first Budokai game (but not present in the two sequels) appear in the game's roster (though not present from the Budokai series are Supreme Kai, Uub, and Omega Shenron). Some of the characters making their first-ever playable appearances are Janemba, the Oozaru, Baby-Vegeta, and Super #17.
There are various classes of characters with special abilities that alter the battle:
Artificial Humans or Androids - Will not show on radar unless locked on to. Cannot charge ki (unless ki gauge is full, then may charge as normal to enter Max Power mode). Energy absorption models gain ki by absorbing incoming energy attacks. Unlimited energy models constantly replenish ki at a consistent rate. The gauge can also be filled as normal by landing successful melee attacks, just like any other character.
Large Characters (ex: Broly) - Do not flinch from smaller characters' melee attacks. The characters that have this "Brick wall" effect are Broly, Bojack, Super Saiyan 3rd Grade Trunks, Oozaru, Oozaru Vegeta and Android 16.
Oozaru (Great Ape) - Do not flinch from smaller characters' melee attacks, and cannot be thrown or hit with a Dragon Dash-type finishing move.
Scouter (ex: Bardock) - Can lock onto an opponent from anywhere using the scouter, however it takes a few moment for them to turn the scouter on and then begin looking around, but the scouter is broken when the character takes a certain amount of damage. The characters that have scouters include: Raditz, Nappa, Scouter Vegeta, Dodoria, Zarbon, Guldo, Recoome, Burter, Jeice, Captain Ginyu and Bardock.
Mr. Satan (Hercule in the edited FUNimation dub) - None of the other characters "flinch" when hit by his melee attacks. (not even another Mr. Satan)
In the game, a base character can have multiple "forms" to choose from on the character select screen (for example, Perfect Cell is a different "form" from 1st-form Cell, but they are both selected from the base Cell character). In total, there are 56 different "characters," with 90 different "forms" in total. The game had the largest roster of playable character in the franchise's history until Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3.
Though this game was far more enjoyable than any of its predecessors, the problems with the story mode as well as not being able to transform (which was a key part of its predecessors) meant that improvements could be made.
Thus we had....
Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2
Console: Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii
There are 129 playable characters in most versions of the game and 135 in the Japanese and PAL Wii versions. All characters featured in the previous game are available in this game as well.
Battles can now involve up to ten characters fighting one at a time on the battle field, with one teammate coming in after the other has been knocked out or when the player wishes to switch to another fighter. This is referring to Free Battle options.
Most versions of the game have 16 large arenas (11 of which are taken from the previous Budokai Tenkaichi game). The Japanese and PAL Wii versions have 17 with the inclusion of a new space level, and 9 game modes.
The game also features in game transformations, in addition to being able to choose to play in a transformed state from the start. In order to transform, you must press R3 (1 on Wii) and Left/Up/Right to select the form you want. One may also press Down + R3 (Down + 1) to revert back to their original state (Only transformations that have shown that they can be undone in the anime can do this).
Fusions can be performed in-battle as well, and it is performed the same way as tag teams and transformations except that you have to press L2 (Z). Fusion can only be done in Tag battles and Free battles, and the player must have the suitable character as a Tag partner. For example, base Goku and Vegeta (second form) to form Vegito. If that fused character has a second or third form, you can press R3 + L2 + Up (Z + 1 + Up) or Right to transform into that different form. A customizer has been made to change the characters.
The Dueling Mode features a 'Battle Settings' option, where you can adjust the dueling time, COM difficulty level, and set the In-Game Transformations on or off during gameplay.
The Wii version of the game features a unique control scheme using the Wii Remote. Using the motion-sensing controller, players are able to control their fighters by carrying a Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination and mimicking moves from the series. Players are able to choose whether they wish to use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, or a Nintendo GameCube controller.
Dragon Adventure is the main mode of the game which covers Dragon Ball Z to Dragon Ball GT, also including many of the movies. The outcome of the battles in the mode changes the course of the story. In this mode, new powers, characters, and "what-if" type scenes, similar to the ones in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai are unlocked. The player uses a character around Earth and Namek looking for Dragon Balls, skill capsules and opponents. (Much like Budokai 3)
The Ultimate Battle Z mode uses a system in which the player selects a type of battle and progresses up a pillar, similar to the system used by games in the Mortal Kombat franchise. Each pillar has a specific theme and condition. By beating a pillar, the player earns a score, items, and more pillars.
Here are two videos of the gameplay involved in Tenkaichi 2:
So, with all that said can you guess what's coming up next??? Hmmm.....
Could it be Tenkaichi 3????
Yes, November this year see's the release of what has been described by Atari as the penultimate of the series.