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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkachi 3 Review - The third wave of the 360° movement

                 October 4, 2007 (Japan)
                 November 9, 2007 (Europe)
                 November 13, 2007 (North America)

Platform(s): Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii
Genre(s): Fighting
Developer(s): Spike
          Bandai (Japan/Europe)
          Atari (North America)
Player(s): 1-2


Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 was in improvement from the first game in just about every way thus leading to become a fan favorite and it received slightly better reviews as a result, but the sales still continue to dwindle. Spike then has decided to pull out all the stops In order for the series to fully escape the shadow of the much more successful Dragon Ball Z: Budokai titles. With a huge marketing campaign and a roster boasting of 160 characters total (including transformations and fusions)... was it all worth it in the end?


Once again the innovative combat system from the last two games. However, Tenkaichi 3 is not the massively overhaul that Tenkaichi 2 is from the first game (not that was even needed) but it still does a lot to improve the combat for a much deeper, more refined experience. Characters now automatically lock onto their opponents so moves designed around fucking around this feature aren't nearly exploitable. Smash Attacks can also done teleporting briefly towards the opponent by charging it then releasing it the moment your character flickers bright to confuse opponents. Several character specific combos have also been added as well as several more button mashy combos from the last game being fixed or removed.

Along with the new offensive moves, tweaks, and character specifics... new defensive maneuvers and movement options have been added. A new dash mechanic called Z Burst Dash can performed during the standard Dragon Dash to travel at much greater speed and move around the stage to appear behind the opponent. Super Guard has been replaced with Sonic Sway which is similar to the counterattack combo chain only this move makes you automatically your opponent's melee combo if it connects draining their ki and smack them away. Not a huge loss though as rush Blast 2's are no longer unblockable... though they still can break an opponent's guard thus making them lose ki. A new counter move has been added called Z Counter which is difficult yet very satisfying to pull off. It allows you to teleport behind the opponent like the defensive teleport to knock them away but unlike said teleport, Z Counter costs some ki and has to timed exactly when the opponent attacks (it's also only effective against melee attacks).

Lastly, the AI has been improved drastically. They now actually provide a reasonable challenge.


With another DBZ game comes yet another new single-player campaign. For this game it is called Dragon History and it goes back to it's roots of simply going from one scenario to another. However, this mode does something different from the others before it as it actually makes you feel like you're in a battle from the show by having the characters exchange dialogue during gameplay and events are predetermined. You also play as the villains occasionally when they win in the actual story instead of beating around the bush by sticking you with the losing heroes this time. On paper this mode sounds great but the execution leaves much to be desired. Firstly, while some may have found the Dragon Adventure in Tenkaichi 2 too long, Dragon History is also too short. Many key battles are mysteriously left out and the whole thing can be completed in 6 hours. Also once you're done with it there's not much reason to bother playing it again except maybe to collect the dragonballs. Most of the characters are already unlocked. Dragon History does promise alternate paths which you can discover during battle but it doesn't take advantage of that concept and there's no reward for it either. At most you just get a different (underwhelming) cutscene at the end.

Tenkaichi 3 also has it's own take on the Ultimate Battle mode from the previous games. The main course here is the Mission 100 where you fight up to 100 different battles against sets of opponents based on a certain theme and they all have different rules. The others challenges are Sim Dragon which is a battle simulation where you are to prepare for a fight in 10 days (the cycle must be completed 10 times without losing) and Survival which is pretty self-explanatory. There is also a feature exclusive to the Playstation 2 version (to make up for the lack of Netplay) called Disc Fusion where you can play through the Ultimate Battle from the first Tenkaichi and Ultimate Battle Z of Tenkaichi 2 if you have working discs of the respective games. Pretty gimmicky if you ask me.

The World Tournament mode has also been changed drastically and is now called Dragon World Tour. It is sectioned off to two sub-modes which are World Tour where you get unlockables but it only allows one player and a tournament is only open at a certain time, and Free where you can mess around with friends. Aside from the that, the 3 tournaments from the last game have returned plus two new ones which are the Otherworld Tournament which is pretty much the Big Martial Arts Tournament except you fight Pikkon in the end instead of Hercule and the Yamcha Game which is pretty much the same deal except your character is randomly selected for you (something the game even acknowledges is stupid).

Training mode is just as barebones as ever with the tutorial (Battle Training) going back to teaching you mostly through cryptic text. Also, as I hinted before the Wii version of this game offered online play though it suffered majorly from lag so it's not a huge loss for PS2 players. The Character Encyclopedia from Tenkaichi 2 has been reduced to just Character References where you look at character bios and their models.

Evolution Z has returned but the customization setting has been revamped to be much more balanced. Character stats can't be beefed up massively like in Tenkaichi 2 and the level up system is gone. Each character start off with a certain amount of slots but can increased up to 7 by generating more with Z-Points (this game's currency) and items can take more than 1 slot depending on their effects. The real upsides to this revamped system is that a bunch of more useful ability improving yellow Z-items have been added, the redundant Z-Item Fusion has been removed, and the Item Shop has been streamlined so you don't have to buy the same item more than once. Once you buy said item it will be available for every character and you don't have to deal with the membership card silliness.  

The Data Center still allows you to insert custom characters via password but you can also view recorded battles from the Dueling mode with Action Replay.


Just like the gameplay, the graphics for Tenkaichi 3 isn't massively different from the last game though I would say the character models do appear less block this time. One thing I do have to say is the beams, auras, particle effects, etc. look a lot better in this game. It has much more pizzaz and resembles the anime more closely.


Once again the voice clips and sound effects are recycled from the last game barring cutscenes, menus, and of course the new characters. More sound effects from the show have been picked up though,

Just like the last game, the Japanese version has remixed tracks from Shunsuke Kikuchi's soundtrack for the original anime series while the international versions of the game gets another original soundtrack by Toshiyuki Kishi. It's not as good as the soundtrack for Tenkaichi 2 but it does it's job well enough plus a few memorable tracks.


In terms of storytelling in Dragon History, it also falls flat. It's done through in-game cutscenes but the characters are limited to their standard animation during gameplay thus leading to some really awkward scenes like Gohan tagging in just to have Piccolo die at Nappa's hands. It's a  shame that Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, a game that predates this one by 5 years, completely shits all over it while basically doing the same thing.

Storytelling aside though, the look and feel during combat has improved greatly. Every sequence is much more dynamic, all the ki blast attacks feel painful, and all supers/ultimates are catastrophic. it also uses more visual cues from the anime overall.

The menus also continued to get better and better. The character select screen now makes perfect sense (no 'up is down and down is up' mess), the dialogue is more memorable, more bells n' whistles, and there are more than one mini-game during the loading screen (dat loading time tho...).


Just when you thought Spike was done they still managed to impress with their third installment in the Budokai Tenkaichi series. However, I can't help but feel they have hit a wall with this title.

Now this game gets an 8.1 out of 10...