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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai - GameCube vs PS2 versions - my thoughts

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Yeah, yeah. I know Gamespot has been making a lot of people angry with the upcoming changes and all, but I don't want ot get on that too much.

Instead, I'll be comparing my experiences with two different versions of the same fighting game based on one of my favorite anime/manga franchises, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai.

Where did I play them?

First:

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai

vs second system:

DBZ: Budokai PS2

Admittedly, it's not a spectactular game, nor is it anything great, but at the time it was decent enough for quite a few DBZ fans and it sold well enough to spawn not only two more sequels (Budokai 2 and Budokai 3, the latter given regards from even members of the FGC who just have a hard time liking other DBZ games), it also helped Legacy of Goku on GBA continue a huge stream of games in the franchise being localized for North America and Europe. A few were quality, but there was still so much shovelware at the same time.

The game was developed by Dimps, who Sonic fans know as the developers for Sonic Advance and Rush, while Street Fighter fans know them for teaming up with Capcom for Street Fighter IV. Originally, it was released as a PS2 exclusive in 2002, but nearly a year later was ported to the GameCube with a different graphics styIe, but still being the same game. While Japanese and PAL versions were published by Bandai (who later merged with Namco years later), the US versions were published by Atari/Infogrames.

PAL vs NTSC US versions

A smaller note, but one I might as well still cover while I write this. As someone who has played both an American and PAL UK version, I've noted some interesting differences, one of them being the intro,

Here is the PAL version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of3ERUNMQKE

Here is the NA version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT9t3FGdFEI

Personally, and this is perhaps my nostalgia talking, but I like the US version of the intro better. It was just a great recreation using the in-game engine to re-enact the Japanese intro (which featured the song "Head ChaLa" while this featured Funimation's "Rock the Dragon", though the version I linked may be a bit different). Hard to fight against when the EU version uses clips from the story mode instead, but it doesn't feel as impresive.

Also worth noting is that the PAL version of the game sticks to just the Japanese voice acting, while the US version has the in-house Funimation voice actors. I can't give the edge to either of them to be honest as both have their ups and downs. In Japanese, Goku and Krillin have rather unfitting voices (they don't sound anywhere near their age), but then again, neither do Frieza and Cell in English (a bit over the top for my liking).

PS2 vs GameCube

Okay, here is where we get to the main attraction, what makes one perhaps better or worse than the other?

Well, like I said several paragraphs above, the GameCube version uses a slightly different styIe compared to the PS2 version, by utilizing cel-shading on the characters, while the PS2 version looked a bit more plastic like the action figures, and for that the GameCube version wins in the graphics department. Sure, it's not a great looking game by any stretch, but it did it's job well enough to represent the look of the anime better. It also makes things a bit more clear and several DBZ games after have used the cel-shading since.

Then there is also the load times, which granted isn't very long for either console, but I have noticed that, once again the GameCube version has a slight edge there. In my time playing the PS2 version, the loading felt a bit longer, and I could swear I'm seeing other, but smaller loading times I don't remember seeing in the GameCube version, while on the GameCube, there was fewer and had a shorter amount of time to load everything. Not even slight delays of getting into the World Tournament mode selecting your character (I mainly play as my favorite Dragon Ball character, Piccolo).

But a big one I shoudn't forget is the controls and for the PS2 and GameCube, it's quite important due to one thing, the different button layouts. Sure DBZ: Budokai has a rather simplistic way with two main buttons (punch and kick), and an energy button (even when you need to complete certain combos to activate moves like Kamehameha), but if one thing controllers need is easier navigation and for fighting games, I got to give it to the PS2 version. Not that the GameCube version is particularly bad as it's still playable on there, but in many of the more traditional fighting games, the PS2 controller just has the upper hand, and DBZ: Budokai is far from an exception. Also don't forget that the D-Pad on the GameCube controller is quite dinky, despite having the much better looking cross design.

And for the controls alone, I give the slight edge to the PS2 version. True, the GameCube version had the edge in a few things such as slightly fewer and lower load times and better visuals, but controls alone make the PS2 version the more "go to" version, if only (ironically) by a little. Besides that, as a DBZ fan, I still consider the game to be decent fun on both systems even through the differences going as far as giving both versions the same score.

That's it for me!

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