It seems like every year that we are sitting here talking about another Dragon Ball Z game, which for fans of the series can either be a great thing or an utter disappointment. The series has had such a roller coaster ride between games that you never quite know what to expect. Today we are checking out Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (say that ten times fast) for the Nintendo Wii, which hopes to take this game off the crazy roller-coaster and into the hands of fans. Does it deserve the purchase? Read our full review to find out.
Last year we checked out Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 for the Wii and it wasn’t perfect but it was by far the best Dragon Ball Z game in quite a while, and one of the best on the Wii too. So how much of an improvement in Tenkaichi 3 over the previous?
So let’s just jump right into it and get into what this game is all about. A lot of what we saw in last year’s game is back for a return visit, not surprising however is the fact that with this comes more characters, more modes, and some changes to the combat scheme, surprise surprise. But what does this mean to the average fan? Well let’s start with the modes. This year there is the Dragon History mode, which is quite simply a fancy way of saying a story mode, Last year the game’s story mode was gigantic, in some cases to big, and I agree with the direction the developers took this year. There is much more of a purpose given to each individual fight, rather then just lumping a multitude of fights together, there is more back story and I think makes for a much more engaging story mode.
The other big addition in terms of modes in the ability to go online on the Wii (one of the few games supporting that) and you would think this would really take the game to the next level. Well hold your horses on that one, because unfortunately the developers weren’t able to smooth out the edges on the game before release, because this is one of the most buggy online experiences I have had in quite some time. The lag is horrendous, I had two out of fifteen games that I felt to be "playable", not perfect, but able to at least feel like things were going well. The other thirteen games I played in either ended up having connection errors or fell to the ultimate plague of lag. The options are pretty strong in the game and the leader-boards a great touch, but unless they find a way to smooth the games out online, there is absolutely no reason to go online, which is a major disappointment.
So we have gone through some of the big modes in the game, let’s now move on to the actual gameplay, which for the Wii hasn’t changed much. I would try to explain how the controls work for the Wii but that is bound to confuse more than help, so let’s just leave it at that and move on to the analysis of the controls. Like last year there is a rather steep learning curve to the controls, but this year the game does a better job of explaining and making things more accessible for a new entry to the series. The controls haven’t changed much, which is because they worked pretty well last year and continue to in this game as well.
The actual offline content is great, I loved the Dragon History mode and there are so many other modes to compliment it that you can be playing this game for a long time in the future. This would have been that "next level" installment had the online play actually been worthwhile. Instead the game leaves us with a rather broken online game that leaves multiplayer to playing against someone who is sitting right next to you. Its a good effort but still not that top tier level entry that many are hoping for.
Visually you’re still looking at the cel shaded Dragon Ball Z, which I have remained a big fan of and continues to work really well in this title as well. As I mentioned there are more characters in the game who all look great and of course plenty of new environments and animations that also continue to impress. I think for me really what does it all together is the use of color. I love how the game continues to really brighten up the screen and make you feel like you’re part of the anime without feeling like a complete carbon copy.
Just like last year’s game, there was a lot of potential for this title to be the "break out" title for not only the Wii but for the series in general. The fighting mechanics all work really well, the visuals are coming together as well, but there are far too many shortcomings to say it has arrived. The online play being the prime example, it has so much potential but because of terrible results we are left with an online mode that most aren’t going to give more then ten minutes and move on.
In the end, Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 for the Nintendo Wii is a good solid fighter that’s not going to necessarily change anyone’s mind on the series. If you didn’t like the Wii controls last year, you’re not going to this year. But the improvements were such that not only would I recommend checking this game out, but I would keep a keen eye on next year’s game, because it feels as though we are growing close to a break through type title.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.