It's a completely different game from previous Budokai games, but it's still the 2nd great installment in the series.
taino1128 wrote this review on .
Budokai 3 had an interesting story mode called Dragon Universe where you were flying around in the world of DBZ looking for items, fighting people, etc. Tenkaichi takes another direction with Z Battle Gate, similar to the original Budokai where you would watch cutscenes and then fight as though it was episodes from the show. It makes the storyline feel more in order, though there are still problems with the storyline. Like Budokai 3, it's not fully fleshed out and unless you're familiar with the DBZ & Dragonball GT shows and movies, you'll probably be lost, but its not a terrible flaw. It contains sagas from the series, you select the saga and then fight in the fights that took place in the show. It has all of the major fights from the show plus a few more that were just added for the sake of the game that didn't take place in the show. Some fights that were won by a specific move now require you to defeat your opponent with that move. And fights where the good guy didn't exactly win, you can't defeat your oppenent, you're required to avoid him for a certain amount of time. Both of these things make it feel a lot more like the show. Though its not perfect, this is probably the best story mode seen in a DGZ game.
The main reason why this game is better is because of the way you unlock items and fighters. Each fighter already has their skills automatically set, so there is no need to spend hours trying to unlock a skill like before. Instead of capsules, you get Potara earrings. What they do is improve your fighters stats, such as health, attack, defense, etc. This improves the RPG element from Budokai 3 by allowing you to select what you want to improve before a fight, though you can't do it in the Z Battle Gate mode. Other Potara earrings are given certain names where if you fuse the right ones together you unlock fighters. Ex-by fusing the earrings SSJ4 Goku Fusion and SSJ4 Vegeta Fusion you unlock SSJ4 Gogeta. You gather the seven Dragonballs by finding them in the destructible parts of levels. Levels that have Dragonballs have red borders around them in the level select so that you know which levels to look for them. You are not forced to go to a different level for each Dragonball, thankfully. You can gather the Dragonball in the same level 7 times if you'd like, but you have to beat the level in the process. You unlock a saga, a few characters, and the password feature that was in Budokai 3 with the Dragonballs.
There are 57 fighters from DBZ and DBGT. That is a great amount of fighters. The thing that might be a big turnoff is that you cannot transform during the middle of a fight. Ex.-You can't go from SSJ2 Goku to SSJ3 Goku during the fight. You have to select him as though he is a different character. It might feel a little good that you don't have to worry about transforming down when getting knocked out, but it still would have been nice if you can transform.
NOW, the most controversial part about DBZ games, THE GAMEPLAY. Previous Budokai games have had shallow fighting systems and people have said that it felt like stripped down version of Virtua Fighter. That is no longer a problem. All fighting games are given this side camera where you see both fighters fighting only from the side. Spike decides to give it more of that DBZ feel by giving a "behind the back" camera and making the levels free roam. Do to the new free roam mechanic, there is target lock, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it makes perfect sense. After a certain attack you'll be knocked out and loose sight of where your opponent is, just like the fights in the show. If you opponent looses sight, you can use it to your advantage by performing an attack when they are not prepared. The problem with this is the camera. Its not bad, but it still has its flaws. If you're cornered up against the side of a hill, mountain, or level boundary, the camera will get in your way and it is difficult to see your fighter and sometimes even your opponent. In previous Budokai games, you could only fly in the air if your opponent knocked you into the air with an attack. Now, you can go into the air on your own, both up and down. There is no longer a punch and a kick button. Square is for basic puch and kick attacks, Triangle is for energy attacks, Circle is to block, and X is for dashing through the air. Even though square is used for both punch and kick, it isn't the same each time. By pressing the directional buttons during a combo, you do different attacks and at the end of a combo you send your opponent flying in whatever direction you're pressing. Do to all of these new gameplay mechanics, there is a steep learning curve for the gamplay. There is a tutorial, but it is not interactive. It is cutscenes showing you what to do. Despite the steep learning curve and flawed camera, this gameplay is a lot better and the fights are a lot more like actual DBZ fights.
The game features cel-shaded graphics, which makes perfect sense since the game is based on a cartoon. The previous 2 Budokai games had cel-shaded graphics that looked pretty good, but Tenkaichi's cel-shaded graphics look amazing. It looks exactly like a cartoon. The fighters and levels are more detailed. They got rid of the bold, black boundary lines that were on the edges of fighters so that they look more like that show and not drawings on paper. The skys and backrounds of the levels look very realistic. FINALLY, the fighters can get cut up and their clothes get ripped during the fight. If you completely massacre your opponent or if you barely escape death, you'll see ripped clothes, cuts, and blood marks on the fighters. The lighting effects from the moves look outstanding. This is one of the best looking cel-shaded games.
The sound effects sound good, but nothing special, even with surround sound. The reason why this game sounds good isn't because of the sound effects. The music is now randomized and it is no longer each level having a specific song. Most of the songs have been heard in previous Budokai games, but thats not a bad thing. It's the usual dose of American Rock and Japanese Funk that go perfect with the fights and sets the mood. Japanese fans of the show here in America have been dying for Japanese voice work in the DBZ games. It is finally here. If you're used to the American voices and decide to set the voice work to Japanese, or the other way around, you'll be struck with awe and want to keep fighting just listen to them.
Do to the new gameplay mechanics, the two-player was forced to be splitscreen. It will be very frustrating at first and takes a lot of time to get used to. Sadly there is still no online play. But if you desire, you can gather the seven Dragonballs and wish for the Password option that was in Budokai 3.
This is the best DBZ game to date. If you are unfamiliar with DBZ and are a fan of fighting games, you might find this game interesting, but don't expect it to be the next Tekken or Dead or Alive. This is a must own for all DBZ fans and should be picked up right away. This is the second great game in the Budokai series. Hopefully Atari can keep up with this and produce great DBZ games from now on.