Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection
The Ultimate Warrior
Ask any Dragon Ball fan what their favorite DBZ game is...and you're likely going to get one of two answers. Tenkiachi....or Budokai. I've always been the former...Tenkiachi 3 remains one of, if not my favorite fighting game of all time. I had played this a bit in the past, I was living with friends back in 2006 and they played the hell out of Budokai 3. But once Tenkaichi 2 came out that became my franchise (Tenkaichi 1 wasn't very good).
So I decided to play Budokai 3 on my PS2 again to put some actual time into it, see if my opinion would change or not. Obviously the big thing working against it would be lack of nostalgia and no one else to play it with. But then I remembered this collection and figured...might as well get trophies for it!
So since I was already playing Budokai 3 when I ordered this, I started with that on this collection, then went back to Budokai 1. With Budokai 2 being famously missing from this collection for some reason. Budokai 1....I did not like, at all. I beat the entire game just today and it definitely suffers from "great idea in a first game that's massively improved in it's sequels". The fighting mechanics would feel familiar if you played B3 first, but less refined and most characters have very similar moves that are just named something different. And I found combos just really difficult to pull off for what should be very simple button combinations, the AI is programmed to block the whole time, so you can never just enjoy the battle. 99% of the game is super easy though....it's the mind numbingly horrible Advanced World Tournament that raised my blood pressure through the roof. In this mode the AI is only programmed for two things....blocking everything and knocking you out of the ring. Even using the Kid Gohan exploit you find online, and using the 30 second clock exploit it took me more time here (which was my last trophy) then playing all of story mode. Speaking of story mode, I know it's a PS2 game...but man are the graphics jarringly bad, MUCH improved in the sequels. And the cut scenes are pretty bare bone (though fully voice acted) a lot of the energy attacks just look wrong (Kamehameha being yellow for example) and are poorly animated...you can't even barely see auras around the characters.
Budokai 3 on the other hand was a massive improvement and an all around solid game that still holds up today. However, the World Tournaments are still a pain because, in this game, the AI is programmed for one thing and one thing only....FUCKING DRAGON RUSH! For those that don't know, Dragon Rush is a mini-cut scene during battle you can't escape from where, you have to press one of the face buttons in a rock, paper, scissors like mini game...if you choose the same button as the AI, you win the defense. If not, and choose wrong 3 times in a row...it causes massive damage and wastes a lot of time...and the AI will do this constantly, and because its the computer they can make the button press what ever they want anyways! It becomes mind numbingly repetitive after awhile. And a major thing that brings this game down below Tenkaichi 3 for me...is while it is solid and a lot of fun, the combat gets repetitive, you see everything pretty quick, Tenkaichi 2 and 3 always felt like I was getting a fresh and intuitive battle, where I have to model my strategy after what my opponent is doing. Budokai is definitely a game made to play with friends to get that same level of randomness only a human player can give you. Dragon Universe was also more fun here, though mostly told through static text based images. But flying around an open map (which is very small by todays standards) was a lot of fun.
Overall, I have more respect for B3 now. But Tenkaichi 3 is still my go to.