I’ve not bought a beat ‘em up since Mortal Kombat 3 on the Super Nintendo back in 1996; I’ve played a couple of fighting games since then, Smash Bros and Soul Calibur for example, but had no interest in the genre for many years.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 Wii having been a bit out of touch for a while. Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT series include links with the Dragon Ball Anime cartoon with over 500 episodes, 17 Dragon Ball movies and quite a few Dragon Ball Z video games.
Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is an anime inspired 3D beat ‘em up. Even though the consoles are powerful enough, I haven’t actually seen many real 3D fighting games about, sure most of them have a small 3D arena which are usually circular in shape, but it’s because of this (small circular arenas) that the fights usually fall back into a 2D battle, this is because the characters can’t really break out of the one fixed position the engine keeps them in; facing the opponent. DBZBT3 is different in this respect, the arenas themselves are big wide open spaces and it is possible to fly many meters away from your foe, this gives you a chance to hide behind obstructions such as rocks and trees, or charge up a power move or simply buy yourself some time.
As in any fighting game, the main objective is to choose a character and battle your way through a myriad of different and steadily harder opponents and become the ultimate champion. DMZBT3 is no different, but with over 150 characters and even a customize character mode, you won’t be finishing this game with every fighter in a hurry. There are several different modes but they are all pretty similar; fight people, earn Z points, upgrade your character and then fight more people. The fighting engine itself is ok; battles are long and tough but can be cut short if one of you is knocked out of the boundary for the arena.
There are many combos to create and spectacular special moves to perform, so many in fact that it can be a bit daunting. But the Ultimate Training centre might be the place to go and learn the basics. It seems a bit boring but you won’t progress very far with just button bashing alone.
I mentioned the 3D arenas (20 in all, some of which have destructible elements) and how the size makes it feel less 2D in nature when battling; however the same can’t exactly be said to be true of the game characters which even though are 3D models, look very 2D due to the hand drawn style.
It’s possible to use the Gamecube pad and Classic controller with this game; for those of you without retro pads you can play ‘Wii Style’ with gesture controls using the Wiimote and Nunchuck – personally I chose to use my Gamecube pad for this one; I can’t quite get my head around Waggle ‘em ups yet.
The graphics are pretty good and well animated; the special moves all have nice effects and everything runs crisp and smooth on the Wii; all of the characters wouldn’t be amiss from a proper hand drawn Japanese cartoon. Noise wise the game is very typical to the genre, lots of grunts, crashes, thwacks and explosions for you to listen to. Out of everything in the game it’s the voice samples that I find the most irritating; it seems every nook and cranny, every character and every menu screen is full of kiddie speech and pseudo macho overtones.
This game has its good points such as the large 3D arenas and room for strategy, but weighed down by the repetitive combat, lack of real control and cringe inducing voice acting. If you’re a fan of the series no doubt you’ll have this already, for those who haven’t got this and fancy a beat ‘em up while you’re waiting for Super Smash Brothers Brawl or the next Street Fighter game, by all means try this game but be warned you’ll either love it or hate it.
Over all I give this an average 4 out of 10.