Reviewed on PS2

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai

Reviewed By: Matt McFarland and John Wade, IV

Computer Platform: PlayStation II And Gamecube
Produced by: Atari
Price Range: $21-30
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: Teens
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Overall Rating:
Genre: Fighting
Christian Rating: 3 of 5
   (some objectionable elements)
Gameplay: 4 of 5
Violence: 3 of 5
Adult Content: 5 of 5

Box Shot

Long have fans of Dragon Ball Z awaited a video game that is worthy of the series. There have been many attempts, but all have fallen short until Dragon Ball Z: Budokai. And while it is very true to the series, it still only comes close to being a great game.

At first glace this game seems like a typical fighting game, and is quite fun on its own. One of the features that make it stand apart from other games is the burst zone, which happens when two opponents do a certain move at the same time and they enter into a sequence where they fight very fast for a short period. In order to win, you must move the analog sticks in a circle, and the fastest person connects a hit. Budokai's story mode covers the first three sagas of DBZ: The Saiyan saga, the Namekian Saga, and last but not least the Android saga. Each saga contains around 10 episodes and a few unlockable ones after it is completed. I applaud the developers for the amount of detail contained in the story mode, as is very faithful to the anime. However, if you put the difficulty on very easy it can be beat almost too quickly. There is also the standard “versus” duel mode where you can either fight a against the cpu or a friend. Also, there is a world tournament mode with three levels of difficulty (only one is open at the beginning, the other two must be purchased). Winning the tournament earns you money to buy skills to customize your character's moves. A practice mode is also included so that people can try out the moves that are earned, but it's not as in-depth as say, Virtua Fighter 4. There is also a quirky survival mode named “Legend of Hercule” (complete with it's own title screen) where you are the World Martial Arts Champion (and World Class Joke) Hercule, and you must defeat the Z- fighters and Cell in the Cell games. In an interesting twist, each match has its own certain conditions. What most DBZ fans will like though, is the capsule system. Each fighter has a certain number of capsules that can be earned through story mode or purchased in Mr PoPo's Capsule Shop. With capsules, you can make a custom character that has more moved than the default version of the character, and there is a strategic element to it in that you have a certain amount of slots that you are allowed. However, some of the capsules are just too powerful, such as the senzu bean which allows complete recovery of your life bar if defeated. While customizing a character can be fun, it can also lead to some rather unbalanced characters.

The controls take some getting used to, but each move is very easy to perform once you get used to it. However, it does get irritating that there is no “instant” special moves (like Street Fighter). For example, to perform Goku's famous Kamehameha wave you have to punch four times and press the “Ki blast” button.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai

The graphics, while certainly not top notch, are still pretty good. The developers actually reconstructed the opening intro to the series, and each cut scene looks like a 3d version of the show. The only real complaint is that the beginning sequence seems to move slower than its animated version.

Adult Content

Violence is a major part of the Dragon Ball series, as each saga usually contains a number of battles between good and evil, and are usually fought to the death. Characters use martial arts attacks and energy blasts to pound each other until ones life meter is depleted. In the actual game, when you knock a character out he simply falls to the ground. However, in the story mode, which again follows the show almost perfectly, there are a number of grisly scenes which includes three important characters having holes blown straight through their chests by energy beams (and you can see through the holes), and another character rams his own fist into his chest to critically wound himself before he switches bodies with another character.

Goku, one of the main characters of Dragon Ball Z, is a very innocent and noble man. His original purpose in life was to destroy planet Earth, but he made a decision to stand up for Earth and protect it. He also has a strong sense of family values, and is self sacrificial. He has a lot of qualities that are admirable and should be taught to everyone. However not all of the characters are as admirable as Goku. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai contains a lot of violence, and many characters die (but are later brought back with wishes from Dragon Balls). Also, the issue of drawing energy from Ki (from the Chinese Chi) may disturb some people, as would the fact that Earth is “protected” by an alien named Kame (which is a mispelling of the Japanese word for “god”). The issue of the afterlife is also addressed in a manner that is not according to biblical standards, as characters can be resurrected from the dead using wishes from Dragon Balls. Christians, however, know that resurrection come s from God, not by making wishes. Also, at the end of the Cell saga Goku encourages Gohan to be stronger by feeding off of his anger (although there are numerous times throughout the game where Goku displays the character of a great role model). The common theme of the game may also me more serious than a child can handle, as life and death are frequently mentioned in the story mode.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai

Ultimately, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai is a fun game to play for a while, and customizing characters and unlocking capsules and earning Dragon Balls provides some extra gameplay. However the whole Saiyan pride, Dragon Balls, constant violence, death, and Ki attacks often left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Ultimately, the choice is with the person buying the game whether they be a older fan of the series or a parent buying the game for a child. If you're part of the latter, rent the game and sit down with your child and watch them play it. Do the ideas that the game give out offend you or do you want your children learning from these false sense of morals? Perhaps when you see something in the story mode that is not a good moral practice, you can pause the game and have a discussion with your child about what the right thing was to do, and what they would have done in the same situation. Sometimes the problem is not the content of the game, but whether or not you're effectively teaching your child about what is right and wrong in the game.

Year of Release—2002

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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