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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Atari
Developed by: Spike
Genre: Fighting
Players: 1-2
Release Date: October 18, 2005
Written by: Matthew Prunty

For more than 10 years, several developers have tried to recreate the overall experience of Dragonball Z within a videogame. Several titles, including DBZ Ultimate Battle 22, DBZ: Legends, and Dragon Ball: Final Bout have taken the series to whole new heights, but in some way or fashion, they ended up lacking a core element that would put them over the top in the eyes of gamers all around the world.

A whole new series of Dragon Ball Z fighting games during the current generation gave birth to new possibilities, and new heights within the fighting realm. The Dragonball Z Budokai series has been a very prominent franchise for Atari, which allowed DBZ fans all over the world to enjoy all the great aspects of the anime, but within a videogame. From cell-shading graphics, to expandable fighting maneuvers, to even an expanded roster of DBZ characters to do battle with, the Budokai series marked a change which games embraced all around the world.

You like out fist-to-foot style?

With the release of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, gamers were treated to a true experience that had many wondering was there anything left within the spectrum of fighting games and DBZ that they could possibly muster up to continue with the most popular series of fighting games within the DBZ universe. The cell shading was refined in Budokai 3 to offer up a realistic look and feel, but at the same time giving a distinctive look. The fighting system was reworked from the ground up, to include countless fighting maneuvers, greater amount of animations (making the characters look less static and more fluid), and even added additional characters to the roster, to make this one epic fighting game that you had to own.

So what possibly could be added to create the experience that will be known as Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi? Well, read a little bit further, and you will realize what Atari and Spike are about to do with the DBZ series, which will turn heads, draw in new gamers, and reshape the whole fighting genre for good.

Just by translating the title Budokai Tenkaichi, which means “Supreme Martial Arts Tournament”, it is already given that this title will indeed be bigger and better than ever before. One notable difference between Budokai 3 and Budokai Tenkaichi is that you are now able to fly. Though it was indeed included within part 3, in Budokai Tenkaichi, things are taken to new heights. You are able to fly throughout the sky, delivering amazing and damaging attacks to your foes without any complications. The landscape has been greatly expanded, offering up canyons and ridges for which you can fight within, or through your opponents through. You can even fight under water, another first for the series, but the overall mechanics don’t change, which will be good and bad. We all know that each of these fighters have tremendous powers, but to have the water not affect their movements in the slightest inclination, makes things seem less realistic, but more on the side of the DBZ anime series.

Off to the mall...

Ryo Mito, lead producer over at Bandai, expresses his views on what we can expect form DBZ: Budokai Tenkaichi:

“This game features an all-new battle system that will give Budokai players much freedom in controlling the characters… I believe casual gamers can grasp such techniques in a short period of time.”

Another feature that is being reworked is the control scheme. No longer will you have to be at the mercy of button smashing to perform crazy moves like the Galick Gun. You still can duke it out with the punch and kick buttons, but if you want to perform some special maneuvers, they will require a bit more effort. Think along the lines of Soul Calibur and Tekken, and you have an idea of the type of configuration you will be subjected to.

“Each character will have certain unique abilities, such as the Taiyo Ken (Solar Flare), which lowers an enemy’s search ability.”

Memorable moments live on forever

Dodging, evading and transporting were nifty features that were added to Budokai 3, and at times, proved to be difficult to perform. So Spike decided to take a closer look at this, especially the evasion aspect. Now you will have a meter right below your life gauge. This gauge will allow you to counter your opponent’s attacks, dodge, and even repel energy attacks. This is a big plus, but don’t think you can abuse this feature. If Goku attacked with Kamehameha wave, then repelling attacks wont do you any good. In addition, certain characters will be able to freeze their opponents, another ability which can be used to avoid an offensive attack or to toy with their mind a little.

The graphical presentation of Budokai Tenkaichi is a sight to see. Spike has taken the anime look and blended it with cell shading, to immerse gamers in a whole new visual experience that the DBZ cartoons are known for. The battles are even beefed up to look similar to the anime cartoon. Your fighter can now take damage, ranging from a bloodied face, to torn clothing, to bruises being left on the bodies, you will never see this series the same ever again. Energy and particle attacks have also been reworked, so that they actually look like they are coming from the character’s bodies and not like little character sprites found in games of the early 80’s.

This is really going to hurt.

Even the landscape is seeing an improvement. From trees, to canyons, to large bodies of water have all been given a graphical boost. The trees seem more lifelike, with the leaves blowing in the wind. The expansive landscape, which include canyon areas and ridges, are nicely detailed and stylized, and very much destructible. Cut-scenes are also making a comeback, which is sure to please many gamers. These cut-scenes will seen among more than 150 different battle sequences taken from the Dragonball movies, Dragonball Z, Dragonball GT, and other notable battles not scene within cartoons and movies. Some of the cut-scenes of Dragonball and Dragonball Z will be reworked to include 3D models, and will include more than 50 characters, including Super 17 and Janemba (from Dragonball GT and DBZ Movie 12 respectively).

When it comes to a great multiplayer experience, games will have to suffer another installment with out it. Though none of the Budokai titles have suffer from the lack of multiplayer, it’s still a nice addition that we should see in the near future as it doesn’t seem that DBZ will be going anywhere anytime soon.

At this point, it is very clear that Spike and Atari have found some light within what gamers considered the last installment within the Budokai series. From graphics, to gameplay, to even the overall experience has been reworked and created, providing a new and genuine experience that give long time DBZ gamers a nostalgic feeling. Though they have plenty of time to add or finely tune some of the aspects, as it stands, Atari has a solid fighter on their hands, very much worthy of the DBZ name and acclaim within the gaming community.

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