The Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi series was one of the best series of Dragon Ball Z games on the PlayStation 2. Like most Dragon Ball Z games during that era, Budokai Tenkaichi is a fighting game based on the popular anime, and like most games based on anime, it’s not incredibly balanced. However, what it lacks in competitive viability, it more than makes up for with over-the-top gameplay, dozens of characters, and a wide variety of modes to play. Each game in the series added more and more content that could keep fans busy for countless hours.
Unfortunately, after the third game, the series went dormant. However, Bandai Namco recently announced a new Budokai Tenkaichi game. Since the original trilogy was released, other 3D Dragon Ball fighting games have come and gone, but none of them captured the frantic and chaotic fun that Budokai Tenkaichi did. With Budokai Tenkaichi 4 on the way, there are a few features and modes that need to return from the previous entries.
Giant Characters Need to Return for Budokai Tenkaichi 4
The Dragon Ball universe features some characters like Lord Slug, Hirudegarn, and Janemba’s first form that are giant, towering beasts closer to kaiju than DBZ characters. Even the Great Ape form all Saiyans have are hulking giants that can intimidate almost any opponent. The classic Budokai Tenkaichi games allowed players to control these giants in combat with other giant characters or players that were normal-sized, and it allowed for some hilariously fun battles.
Giant characters obviously took up massive portions of the screen and had unique advantages and disadvantages tied to them. For example, their size made them easy to target with special attacks, but it also made them immune to any special attacks that grappled them. The giant characters were a fun and goofy option for players to battle with, and it is something that few Dragon Ball Z games have even attempted since Budokai Tenkaichi.
Dragon Ball Tournaments With Different Features
There are several martial arts tournaments featured throughout the Dragon Ball Z series, and most fighting games include some form of tournament mode for players to compete in. It only makes sense that a DBZ video game would incorporate some of the tournaments from the show. Budokai Tenkaichi went the extra mile, however, and included special stipulations for each tournament from the show that was included in the game.
For example, if players touch the ground outside the ring in the World Martial Arts Tournament, they are disqualified, just like in the show. The Cell Games focus on survival, as health doesn’t regenerate after each match. These modes added some variety to the standard Versus mode, and the quirky rule additions helped to mix things up even more. With the new tournaments introduced in Dragon Ball Super, the tournament mode of the next game could offer even more variety and quirky fun.
The What-If Story Chapters Offered Interesting Story Segments
The main story of the Budokai Tenkaichi games sees players fighting their way through the story of Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT. Like most fighting games, the story basically consists of players going through famous battles throughout both series and movies. However, the game also featured a “What-If” chapter in the story mode. This chapter created hypothetical scenarios that created interesting stories and brought together characters who never met in the series.
While they were primarily non-canon bonus battles, the “What-If” scenarios added new stories for players who might have felt playing through a story they were already familiar with was monotonous. Some even provided answers to questions and debates fans had for years. These battles were fun, quirky, funny, and added more to the base story. With all the new characters introduced in Dragon Ball Super, there are even more possibilities for more in the next Budokai Tenkaichi installment.
Destroying the Planet Is the Best Display of Power in Budokai Tenkaichi
Dragon Ball Z is known for characters that are powerful enough to destroy entire planets, something that can be hard to convey in video games. Budokai Tenkaichi found a way to do it. If players use one of the massive attacks from the show like the Spirit Bomb or Supernova, miss the opponent, and hit the ground, it will cause a massive explosion that leaves a crater on the planet. This completely changes the current map to a desolate area with only broken pillars of the earth to stand on.
This was one of the coolest parts of the classic trilogy. It made players feel more like the powerful Saiyans seen in the show, and it gave players the power to destroy the planet if they weren’t careful. In a way, Budokai Tenkaichi did destructible environments before it was a major trend in gaming. With the power of modern consoles, the next installment in the series could take this to the next level. It would allow the destruction to be more impactful, and it would make players feel even more like Super Saiyans or Destruction Gods.
Manual Transformations Did a Great Job of Recreating the Show
One of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi‘s defining mechanics was the ability to let players manually transform in the middle of a battle. Instead of simply selecting a Super Saiyan or Super Saiyan 2 version of Goku from the character selection, Budokai Tenkaichi allowed players to manually transform while fighting just like the characters do in the show. Players could start as a normal version of Goku and transform all the way to Super Saiyan 3 in the middle of a fight — and their opponent could do the same.
Manually transforming did an amazing job of recreating the show. It allowed players to transform as the battle got more intense, making them feel like the epic characters they were controlling. Plus, every character from the show or movies that had a transformation could transform in the game, and players could even manually use the Fusion Technique if they played a tag-team battle and had two characters who could fuse on the same team. It was such a fun mechanic, and it is one that few DBZ games have utilized since. Plus, with so many new transformations introduced since the last Budokai Tenkaichi game was released, it would be a shame to deny players the chance to experience them too.