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Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 2 Review

By Brian Beck, 2/8/2007

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OK, Iíll admit up front: Iíve never been a huge fan of the Dragonball series. Sure, it has become incredibly popular in America as the anime-fever has swept over more and more people. I always preferred the lesser-known stuff, however. Azumanga Daioh (hey, it may be cute but is still funny) and Excel Saga were a couple of my favorites. The whole combat-anime genre never much appealed to me since fights always seemed to take an incredible amount of time to conclude. I was used to action movies where you could get through a complete story in an hour and a half.

However, Iíve heard a lot of good about the series of DragonBall Z fighting games. Starting with the ones as early as the Super Nintendo and going up to the current generation, Iíve tried them here and there. While some really werenít that fun, a couple (Final Bout GT on the PS1) stood out as enjoyable, albeit different, experiences. So, when I decided to review the first Wii DBZ game, I was a little worried that it was going to be one of the bad ones instead of one of the few good ones Ė it isnít often that a release game for a system is good. Not to mention, the Wiimote controls may have made the game overdone and gimmicky. Iím glad to say I was surprised.

Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is a very basic fighting game, at least on the surface. You have a button for close combat and a button for ranged attacks Ė nothing near the variety seen in others where you have 4 or 6 buttons to perform a wide array of attacks. You also have super moves, a staple of fighting games. The combat in Tenkaichi stands out for a few reasons, though.

First of all, combat doesnít just stay on the ground. While you can jump in every fighter out there, none of them let you hover in the air, fly around, dash through the air and virtually move in any possible direction. Being able to knock an opponent in the air and continue the assault 20 feet of the ground adds an element of strategy to the game that simply isnít present in others. You can also knock your opponent back down to the ground, giving you time to charge your boost meter.

The boost meter is really what sets the gameís combat apart from that of other fighting games. Where most fighters have you go through a long and complicated series of button presses, Tenkaichi 2 instead has you actually performing the move. The basic boost moves donít require much Ė you might have to move the Wiimote up to the top of the screen while holding a button. However, the higher level boost moves that are available with a maxed out meter require much more from the player. Youíll often find yourself getting really animated to try to pull off these special moves in dire situations Ė something that may or may not work in your favor. Instead of just quickly doing the button combo, though, youíll have to plan the right time to go into the attack since doing the motions keeps you from doing anything else like, oh, defending yourself. If youíre not so sure on how to do the moves, you can use the gameís excellent training mode Ė itíll teach you how to charge up your boost, how to do the moves and let you practice them to your heartís content.

Whatís a fighting game without super moves, though? There will be a ton of super moves to learn with the absolutely insane amount of characters (over 100 available if you count variants on the same character) available to players. While some of them are, as mentioned, just variants of the others, there are some real unique looking characters here too. While I only recognized a few of them (such as Gohan and Goku), Iím sure that fans of the series will recognize each of the characters and know loads of information about them.

Those moves that you learned in the training mode can be transferred into a basic versus style mode or the Dragon Adventure mode. The Dragon Adventure mode is there for fans of the series Ė if you didnít enjoy the actual TV show, youíre likely not going to enjoy playing through this mode. It is nice to have, though, and may be something to get those who donít enjoy the sprawling battles of the television series a chance to understand the basics of the universe. Since said Dragon Adventure mode is so large, youíre going to learn a lot about just what makes this wacky world tick.

The battle modes for non-Dragon Adventurers arenít horrible by any means. Something interesting that you donít see often with the advent of the internet is a password-trading mode. With this, you can put in a code that lets you fight your friendís created fighter if you so choose. While neat, itís no online battle system. The fun for non-adventurers comes in with the Dueling modes where you can straight up play your friend sitting beside you. As with any fighting game, playing with a live opponent makes the game infinitely more fun. With the Wii, though, that fun is multiplied. Even if you lose a match to your buddyís special move, the endless mocking heíll get from actually doing the motion in front of other people will be priceless. Seriously. Thereís a reason I often close my door while I play the Wii.

The showís graphical style is very well represented by the game. The characters look authentic and the cel-shaded style used makes it really look like a cartoon. Everything is well-animated, from the most basic of punches to the incredible special attacks. The nice thing is that some of them take on a very cinematic feel Ė something that will really pull series fans into the world even more.

Overall, Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is more than a mouthful to say Ė it is a fun anime fighting game too. For fans of the series, the Dragon Adventure mode and vast arsenal of characters to choose from will give you something to do for ages upon ages. For those that arenít, though, thereís still something here to enjoy. The combat system, while seemingly simple on the outside, is actually pretty deep. The mechanics of the system are a significant departure from those of the average fighting game, too. However, if youíre a non-series fan, give this one a rental before you buy it Ė even though the combat is pretty deep and can be fun, thereís a good chance that it will start to bore you after awhile. Fans of the series canít go wrong with this purchase, though, if only to be able to relive some of the many adventures theyíve witnessed in the DragonBall universe.

Overall: 80%



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