[8bit Review] Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3

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Platform: Wii
Publisher: Namco Bandai and Atari
Developer: Spike
Website: www.atari.com/dragonballz

Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a third person fighting game developed by Spike for the Nintendo Wii and the PS2. It is based upon the popular anime that bears the same name and has been subject to around 65 video game adaptations. This review is specifically based on the Wii version as played with motion controls as opposed to the classic controller.

Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 for the Nintendo Wii will be referred to DBZBT3NW from here on out. I never want you to have to read so many nonsensical words again dear reader. While the game is a chore to say,it is a joy to play. This is by no means a complex fighter, especially when compared to the reigning champs of the genre, Soul Caliber, Tekken and Virtua Fighter (in that order, take me to task in the forums b*tch!). What DBZBT3NW lacks in intricacies it makes up for in fun factor, especially when you are playing with a friend.

Knowing full well that a fighting game lives and dies by multiplayer Spike has included online multiplayer functionality, which as any Wii owner knows is still rare to see these days, especially without the need for friend codes. Sadly, in its current state the multiplayer is relatively broken. Promises have been made and a fix is supposedly on the way, but currently the online modes fluctuate from barely playable to stab yourself in the leg lag. Picking up where the online mode is failing is a very comprehensive story mode that takes the player through the key battles of the series. The story mode is not as all encompassing as DBZBT2 but there is still a formidable amount of fights with the added challenge of improved AI fighters.

The first thing that you will notice about DBZBT3NW is the speed and smooth (if slightly dated) cell animation. The quickness in which your character can get across the map is unparalleled. Fights take place under water, in space, in apocalyptic cityscapes, while your character smashes through mountains, vehicles and dilapidated buildings. All of these things whiz by as you attempt to send your opponent spiraling to the ground with a rain of punches, kicks and fireballs. That is you fall to the ground first in a seizure that threatens to take your tongue. This game is fast people.

The characters’ ability to move so fast is a double edged sword because it draws attention to an issue with the level design. The arenas are just too small to support game play that moves this sporadically. You will find yourself floating against an invisible wall in almost no time especially if you are not a skilled player. This is not to say that the fighting areas are extraordinarily small, in fact, they are probably the biggest you have ever fought in. It is just that the game would have benefitted greatly if they were twice as big. Nothing ruins suspension of disbelief more than invisible walls and it’s incredible irritating having your mobility limited as your take a beating from a particularly good opponent by something that is not there.

Even with the somewhat lackluster arena size the battles take on an epic feel. Sitting down with a friend and firing up a five vs. five team match will get your heart racing unlike any other fighting game, add a few beers and I guarantee you that you will be on your feet pumping and crossing your arms like an idiot as you and your buddy laugh hysterically. This is the Wii folks, the not so revolutionary way to play a game by flailing your arms and becoming the one thing video gamers actually like to be, the center of attention. This is one of the reasons that Rock Band and Guitar Hero are so popular; the player steals the focus from everyone else in the room. Unlike those games, I can’t recommend you play DBZBT3NW in front of anybody but the closest of friends, because you really do end up looking like a tool. There is no nonchalant way to play this game with the Wii mote. Spike forces the player to care by making them aggressively pump, cross, spread, punch, pull, and twist their arms. This game can be played with the classic controller and the Wavebird (while supplies last!), but I don’t recommend playing with anything other than motion controls unless you are taking this game seriously (god bless ya if you are).

DBZBT3NW is a fun but dated looking game that benefits greatly from the Wii’s motion controls. It does the anime series justice and is a must have for fans of the series, especially of they haven’t played DBZBT1 or DBZBT2. Its fun factor is in no way limited to fans of the cartoon. Case in point, I find DBZ unwatchable (I am more of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo man myself) but I have been immensely entertained by this game. DBZBT3NW should not be seen as a swan song for these fighting games. It should be seen as a jumping point, because in the next few years there is a solid chance that a very special and epic Dragon Ball Z game could come to the market that builds on Spike’s foundation. Count me in if I get to actually punch my friends in the face with a motion sensitive controller and scream a nonsensical string of made up words.

[8bit Take]: Wacky Bacon Celestial Fudge Sparkle Blossom Blast!