Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2


…and the reward for longest title for a videogame ever goes to…!

Dragonball Z is back with even more yellow hair and powering up than you could dream of. The Wii incarnation of the popular fighting series attempts to build over its predecessor by offering crisper graphics, a bigger character roster, and my personal favourite addition – motion controls.

DBZ: BT2 offers much the same as in the previous edition. The one player mode allows you take the various characters through monumental fights that reflect episodes of the TV show, with fight stipulations and a script that matches the show to the letter. It’s fantastic how much effort has been put in to preserve the spirit of the show and will certainly keep fanboys very happy. The battles that you enter vary greatly, some will have you taking multiple fighters against one enemy (though only one person ever fights at one time) and some necessitate that you finish battles with a particular move. It’s a very refreshing twist on the beat em up genre and keeps things challenging.

Not that this is any normal beat em up, oh no. For those of you who have never watched an episode of DBZ or have never read the manga, the show primarily consists of huge yellow haired people flying around and kicking the living daylights out of whatever evil thing was going to destroy the planet that week. These fights generally entailed massive energy explosions, transformations, and punch and kick flurries that were faster than you could possibly imagine. What’s fantastic is that the intensity of all of these battles is translated perfectly into the game.

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The arenas you fight in are absolutely huge, and as well they should be, because you will be moving around a lot. And I mean a lot. All the characters can fly, warp and pretty much flip about all over the place. The expansive arenas allow so much freedom in terms of how you fight. If you want to uppercut someone about 500 feet into the distance, you may do so. You can then chase after them at super-high speed and hit them again before they hit the ground. It’s brilliant stuff. Destructible environments add to the fun as well. Entire areas of maps are fully destroyable and it really adds to the intensity and authenticity of the DBZ style fight. You can hit an enemy into a giant boulder, and it will break into a million pieces, leaving a massive cloud of smoke, just like the show.

The greatest strength of this game I find to be in the motion controls. While there is quite a lot to the control scheme and its functions, it’s an immensely satisfying experience once it has been perfected. Flying and movement motions are mapped to the nunchuck and control stick and all battle moves are mapped to the Wiimote. Punches and short energy attacks are mapped to simple a and b button presses respectively, but if you want to pull off any of the wonderfully over the top finishers and specials (which you will need to do if you wish to survive for more than five minutes), then you’re going to have to get used to some complex motion gestures.

What’s fantastic about these moves is that they attempt to mimic the show as much as possible. Goku’s famous kamehameha move is pulled off by holding Z and B, pulling the Wiimote and nunchuck back behind you, and thrusting forward, just like Goku does in the show itself. It’s wonderfully fun to pull off and really adds an extra layer of finesse and depth to the controls, basically rendering any type of button-mashing redundant.

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And therein lies the rub. Whilst the complex controls really show skill and commitment to the game, it renders any kind of casual play meaningless. If you don’t know how to play the game, you will end up getting your behind handed to you on a silver platter almost immediately and you won’t have fun. Considering the Wii is aimed primarily at the casual market, and DBZ is supposed to be for kids and young teenagers anyway, this game may come off as a little too hardcore for the target audience.

However, if you’re willing to put the time and effort in, it’s a superb beat em up and one of the most imaginative fighting games I’ve ever played. It’s good fun with a mate (assuming your friend knows how to play!) and is a great challenge. There’s a ton to unlock and some of the levels are stupidly difficult so it should keep you busy for a very long time. There’s no online mode which is a bit of a shame, but the one player mode is very satisfying with a little bit of perseverance. If you like your fighting games with substance then you need look no further. Button bashers need not apply.

Hi-Score – Crisp presentation, startlingly true to the TV show, intense and satisfying fights.

Lo-score – Daunting fighting mechanics, may be “too hard” for some, no online play.

Final Score – 8 out of 10

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