Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 Genre(s): Action, Anime, Fighting
Director(s): Paul Steed
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Spike
Console(s): PS2, Wii
Rated: T for Teen

And here we were thinking that Atari was pulling an EA on us with Dragonball Z fighters! The first game in the series, Dragonball Z: Budokai, was a 3D fighter much in the style of every other fighter around. Four punches and your energy attack make you do a Kamehameha, Goku's signature move. Then came Budouki Tenkaichi, which gave the high-flying, fast-paced action needed to recreate the DBZ anime. Now, here we are at Tenkaichi 2, in which developer Spike has taken the formula that worked so well in the first Tenkaichi, and adapted it to the Wii. The transition is not without its bumpy spots, but it still comes off as a very enjoyable game.

In BT2, you follow the plot of the Dragonball, Dragonball Z, and Dragonball GT anime. You are paired up with an enemy, and in classic fighting game style, its a fight to the death. A nice feature here is that a lot of levels will have tag team matches. (For example, the fight with Vegeta and Nappa has the two villains pitted against Piccolo, Gohan, Krillin, Tien, and Yamcha, who can switch in and out of the fight at will) As you defeat your foes, you unlock new sagas of the story and even the DBZ movies.

This game is, as each installment in the series attempts to be, a Dragonball Z fan's dream come true. With over 70 characters, many of which have every powered up form ever seen in the show, you can live out all of your Dragonball fantasies. (not that kind) The characters, however, are not particularly balanced. Giant monsters like Hildegarn have seven or so bars of health, while cool yet somewhat weak characters like Pan have only two. This adds to the accuracy in relation to the anime, but for non-fans of the series, this will only be frustrating. Chiaotzu v. Broly is not the kind of thing you want to run into in this game.

As for controls, they have a steep learning curve in the Wii version, but you get a pretty good hang of it after a while. A takes care of all physical attacks, down on the d-pad blocks, the B trigger shoots energy blasts, and Z powers up. To dash at your enemy, you merely shake the nunchuck, and to ascend/descend while flying, you hold C and tilt the nunchuck up or down. The problem here is that you have to keep your hand perfectly steady, or your character will stop movement too early or go too far. Though most of the game mechanics stay the same as previous games with this control scheme, the input for special attacks very much changes the way the game is played. You hold Z and B, then, while your cursor is on the screen, (using the Wii pointer) you move it off in a direction, back on the screen, and then let go of Z an B to finish the attack. (or a few non-pointer related movements) Each character has three of these moves, and the different movements are out to the right/left/top/bottom, move Wii remote back and then forward, or jabbing both Wii remote and nunchuck forward twice. Often, when trying to do the latter two movements, the Wii will pick up your input wrong, causing your character to perform the wrong move. You also have a yellow "ki" bar that must be powered up to use special attacks. To use you ultimate attack, which often causes the decimation of the entire planet you are fighting on, you need to power up until a second blue bar of "ki" reaches the top. Finally, moving to your character's next level (i.e. Super Saiyan) is handled by the 1 button, and switching in tag games uses 2.

Graphics are the typical fare for Atari's DBZ games. Colorful and expansive landscapes are combined with cell-shaded and black-line-bound characters who look surprisingly like their anime counterparts. Swirling dust and energy radiating off of the fighters' bodies is rendered with a nice clean look. When it comes to recreating the feel of an anime while keeping in the features we associate with games, the Dragonball Z games have always been the first ones to come to mind, and this game is no exception. One glaring problem occured in graphics for this reviewer. Since the stages are so massive, and for a variety of other reasons, the game can get mind-numbingly laggy at certain points. The game is almost unplayable when this happens, and worse, it usually doesn't stop until you start a new fight.

Tenkaichi 2 has a lot of features, most of which have been seen in previous installments, but have been tweaked for this game. In Dragon Adventure, you still have to fly to new locations to fight enemies, which feels contrived and unneccesary. There is Ultimate Battle, which is now organized into short lines of characters to defeat, each grouped based on some similar characteristic. Dueling allows up to two players, and you can play a single fight, tag team, or 5-on-5 tag game. To get many of the characters, you will have to use the Evolution Z feature to "fuse" two items that both relate to the character. Tournament mode still plays as you would expect; you fight in a tournament until you reach the first place spot.

Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is definitely a great game for any Dragonball Z fan. However, this is not a top-notch fighter, and so is not for fans of games like Street Fighter and Tekken. In addition, problems like laggy multiplayer are not going to be bearable for those without a big love for DBZ. The Wii controls make the game fun to play, but really complicate the process for new players, and don't really add any accuracy to the control. The multitude of characters and robust multiplayer options can keep you playing Dragonball Z, and as long as your friends have played the game and are fans of the show, the game can be a fairly fun party game. All in all, this is a hardcore game for hardcore players: not for the casual gamer or the non-DBZ fan.

Graphics/Sound: 2.5 Average:

(2.8 stars)
Gameplay: 2.5
Design/Story: 3.0
Lasting Appeal: 3.0
Overall: 3.0
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