Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi

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Some of the best Dragon Ball games ever, the Budokai Tenkaichi series, are locked away on the PS2, and they should be available on modern hardware.




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Goku and Vegeta fight.
Dragon Ball Z has been getting some excellent games recently, from the great story and combat of Xenoverse 1 and 2 to FighterZ’s incredible recreation of the anime’s artstyle. With the announcement of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, an open-world action-RPG, many fans are looking forward to another great way to experience the timeless story of one of the most genre-defining shonen anime ever. These games offer a taste of the spectacle and characters that fans have come to know and love over the years, but they also provide some of the best gameplay in their respective genres to boot. Both Dragon Ball FighterZ and Xenoverse 2 are currently considered some of the best fighting games out there, to say nothing of their franchise appeal.

However, all of these great Dragon Ball games are stirring up old memories of more than just the show for many fans. Those who play the likes of Dragon Ball Xenoverse will likely be unable to help but remember Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi.

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What Was Budokai Tenkaichi?




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Charging for an attack.
For those who do not remember, The Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi games were a series of titles that released from 2005 to 2007. The first game was only available on the Playstation 2, while the second and third installments were on the PS2 and Nintendo Wii. These games reached legendary status due to their fun competitive combat, great story modes, and truly gargantuan rosters of characters. They are considered some of the best Dragon Ball games of all time.

The first title launched with an impressive 64 characters and 90 different playable forms, but by the third title, the franchsie featured a staggering 98 characters and 161 playable forms. By this point, the developers began to really scrape the bottom of the barrel for characters, but there was something special about being able to fight as anyone from the unthinkably powerful Broly to a throwaway henchmen like Yakon.

In recent games that feature a wide variety of characters with different levels of strength, there is usually some balancing done to keep everyone on even footing. A good example of this is Injustice, a fighting game in which someone like Green Arrow could win a game against Superman. Budokai Tenkaichi is not a recent title. There is no such balancing, and pitting Yamcha against Vegeta would go much like it did in the anime. This, for many, was a good thing. Not all games must be perfectly balanced or optimized for competitive play in order to be fun.

The other aspect that made these games great was their story modes. Not only did they re-tell some of the best parts of Dragon Ball Z’s lengthy story, but they also offered branching paths with what-if scenarios that many fans had no doubt spent hours speculating about. With specific goals for completing story missions, like finishing a fight with a specific move or character, the challenge was not just in the combat but in the varied gameplay that the story required.

Unfortunately, the last game to be released in the series was launched back in 2011 for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Dragon Ball: Tenkaichi Ultimate was praised for its graphics, but lost points with almost all reviewers for a lackluster story and repetitive, monotonous combat. Without the two features that made the previous games great, Ultimate didn"t hit the same. That means that it has been about twelve years since the last fan-favorite Budokai Tenkaichi game.

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Dragon Ball Z Ginyu Force
Many see the Dragon Ball: Xenoverse games as spiritual successors to the Bodukai Tenkaichi series. However, they differ in some key ways. Despite Xenoverse"s acceptance as a great game, many consider its combat to be a little simpler than that in Budokai Tenkaichi 3. At the same time, the Tenkaichi games had different forms exist as separate playable characters, and the process of changing to a new form or fusion during combat was a lot more complex.

The primary reason that these games deserve a loving remaster or even just a re-release on newer hardware is that they are currently only available on the Playstation 2 or original Wii. Because of the lack of backwards compatibility for Playstation 2 titles, many great classics remain locked on outdated hardware. Much like FromSoftware’s Demon’s Souls, many fans of more recent games long for a way to experience older titles on new hardware.

The other benefit of a modern remake would be the potential for online play. With the massive popularity of these games in their own time, combined with the fanbase of modern titles, the ability to pick up some of the greatest Dragon Ball fighting games ever made and duke it out online would be a great boon to gamers and Dragon ball fans everywhere.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is set to release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on January 17th, 2020.