Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection
HD Collections and rereleases are becoming more and more common in this market, and from a fans perspective, it’s great getting to relive some of your favourite classics with updated graphics and more. That said, not all games need to be brought to light once again, and some genuinely don’t translate to modern gaming or age very well at all. Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection sits somewhere in the middle.
Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection includes Budokai 1, and Budokai 3 revamped with updated graphics and some more polish. I have some issue with the choice of games, though. The exclusion of Budokai 2 I feel is a bad move, as it’s widely regarded as the best of the series, and although I can understand that it’s quite similar to 3 and thus not completely necessary, the game was still significantly better than the first title, which managed to find its way onto the disc.
The Budokai titles are fighting games first and foremost, and tell the story of the Dragon Ball Z anime series. Number 1 starts at the beginning and tells the story up to the end of the Cell Saga, clocking in at a mere 2 hours, roughly. This is somewhat embarrassingly short, with the game also being incredibly easy for the most. I say most part, because the difficulty curve here is way off. Majority of the fights are extremely easy, but then in an immediate turn of events, the next battle can become far too difficult. The lack of a well-developed curve is a very poor design aesthetic, as it fails to ‘train’ the player and teach them the somewhat complex mechanics of the game.
Budokai 3 however, is a much better experience. While a fighter at its core, this one has some mild RPG elements to complement being a much longer game, and paces itself well. The game tells more of the Dragon Ball tale than the previous title, even venturing into GT territory and some of the DBZ movies. Because it covers so much ground, many of the ‘sagas’ are actually over fairly quickly, many with but 2 or 3 fights each. Just like Budokai 1, this game is a very complex machine – the characters really do have a great number of moves and attacks, and learning and mastering them is very tricky. You only have two attack buttons in each (Punch and Kick), plus Kai blast, so as you can imagine, some of the combos are lengthy and difficult to pull off. Manage this though, and the fights can be incredibly enjoyable and fun to not just play, but watch too.
After playing some newer fighting games, it’s really evident that fighters genuinely don’t age well. Even semi-modern titles like these Budokai games are let down by poorly designed control schemes and design choices.
The games both have a great array of character to unlock and play as from the Dragon Ball Z and GT eras. In Budokai 1 though, many of these follow a similar archetype, and are essentially the same characters with different skins. Many share the same move lists and special attacks, just with different names. A game would not be able to get away with that in this day and age. Budokai 3 is a bit better, and is forgiven for any repeated moves (there are still some, but far fewer) by the sheer amount it delivers over the many characters and transformations.
Being a HD Collection, you’d expect there to be a solid effort invested in bringing the visuals to life for a modern age. Budokai HD is a bit of a hit and miss in this regard, with the first game being relatively ugly in most aspects, saved only by the fact it has a cartoon style and there is only so bad a cartoon can look.
Budokai 3 has had a noticeable upgrade though, the visuals are very crisp and the animation is smooth as can be. The fighting in these games is very fast paced, so this was important to get right. I found that the brightness and clear colours of the characters textures were very suitable for the game, and the visual effects of things like energy blasts and special attacks looks superb. All up, it is a great example of how to handle the graphics of a HD rerelease, even if it’s a relatively simple game to overhaul compared to some others which have underdone the same treatment.
If there’s one thing that stood out in the audio department here, it’s the terrible music that comes with this game. Both titles feature highly repetitive and eventually frustrating and annoying music loops. Like everything else ive made mention of, I found this to be much worse in Budokai 1, but it’s still a factor in both.
The copy of the game I played didn’t have an option for English voice dubs for Budokai 1. I have heard though, that the US copy of the game does offer this. In this case, the voicing sounds terrible, and makes playing through the game a real chore. Budokai 3 though, featured a full English-speaking dub and was very bearable.
- Budokai 3 looks and plays great
- Huge character list
- Budokai 1 is simply terrible
- Bad difficulty curve
- Lacklustre audio
- No Budokai 2
Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection is definitely a must have for big DBZ fans, and given its cheaper RRP, it’s hard to pass up for someone wanting a franchise fix. But there are some serious flaws with reviving this franchise this way, as the years have not been kind to the core fighting mechanics of the games. Budokai 1 is plain and simple – a terrible game, but luckily Budokai 3 more than makes up for it and provides some nice fan service after the lacking Dragon Ball Z games of this generation.