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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Atari / Bandai
Developed by: Dimps
Players: 1-2
Genre: Fighting
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: March 7, 2006
Written By: Matthew Prunty

The Dragon Ball Z franchise has been one of moderate success. With more than 20 titles that hit consoles, ranging from the Famicom, all the way to the Playstation, the franchise just couldn’t break into the video game realm like it wanted to. It wasn’t until the Budokai series was created for the Playstation 2 and Gamecube, that gamers and anime goers alike flocked to the videogame adaptations. It was within the current generation of consoles that we able to witness fast-paced action, gameplay, and even visuals that rivaled the anime series. On the handheld front, there have been a few hopeful titles, but nothing that could match the PS2 efforts, until now. Atari’s latest Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai looks to continue the fast paced action, but within the portable realm.

The same high-impact action that was present within the console Budokai titles is also present within Shin Budokai for the PSP. And what makes this title even more addicting is the fact that the controls are very much similar to the PS2 counterpart, but a little more simplified. Each fighter has a host of regular and special abilities that keep the action intense and fresh. One example of this would be the ability to teleport right when you are about to hit with an attack. This technique is very useful when you want to counter the attack or just get out of the way. But just like you using teleportation as a counter, so can your opponent, creating a sticky situation for the both of you. Instances like these can help you recreate some memorable battles that you have seen within the anime where Goku and Buu would teleport back in forth while in between attacks.

Within the game’s main screen, you have various modes to choose from. If you want to jump right into the swing of things, Arcade and the Dragon Road modes are fore you. If you are looking for a bit of a challenge, then you could participate within the Z Trail mode or take you action online via the Network Battle mode. But for those gamers new to the series, I would suggest spending some time within the Training mode so you can grasp the controls and how to utilize each fighter’s abilities.

Gameplay Modes:
  • Dragon Road – Within Dragon Road, you will take on different character roles (Goku, Pikkon, Vegeta, etc.) as you battle through the hectic story that surrounds DBZ.
  • Arcade Mode — Within this mode, you can earn “Zenie” (money), which can be used to purchase various items within the game’s Shop.
  • Z Trial Mode — You have two modes within this mode. Time Attack requires you defeat your opponents within a certain time frame. Survival Mode pins you against endless amounts of enemies. The longer you last within this mode, the more rewards you will earn.
  • Network Battle Mode — Allows for head-to-head battles with your friends or strangers over a wireless connection
  • Training Mode — This mode allows you to test out the different characters battles techniques and moves in preparation for the Arcade or Dragon Road modes.

Though this games offers so much, for those console goers who are interested in picking up Shin Budokai, I should warn you, there are a few elements that were left of the drawing board. One of these elements is the Dragon Rush mode. This mode allowed for fighters to inflict devastation combos on their foes in a cinematic like presentation. Another element that wasn’t included was the power struggle. In the Budokai titles for the consoles, when you initiated the power struggle, you would have to hit a certain button repeatedly to gain the upper hand. Within Shin Budokai, there is little to no involvement at all.

The worse mishap in regards to this title would be within the story mode (Dragon Road). The story follows that of the DBZ movie Fusion Reborn, which if anyone has seen, is a very in-depth fighter. Within the game, there isn’t much depth in regards to conflict, but this is where the replay value of the title kicks in. The further you get within the story mode, the more fighters and abilities are unlocked for you to utilized. Each fighter will have his/her own set moves and special abilities, creating a massive roster of DBZ characters to choose from. Though missing a few elements that made the console versions stand out, the gameplay is still well rounded and well developed.

Within every DBZ title that was created, there has always been a sort of uniqueness in regards to the visuals. The same could be said about Budokai and even Shin Budokai. Both utilize very good cell-shading visuals, which mimic the artwork of the DBZ anime. You will notice the true depth of the visuals when you start pulling off insane special abilities. The only downside within the visual department would be the fact that all the interactions before the battles are done through still images, seeing how the handheld is capable of so much more.

The audio within Shin Budokai is a little lacking. The entire dialog heard throughout the game is taken straight from the show and are pre-recorded. Another bummer is that the music hasn’t changed one bit from the previous Budokai titles. You get the same cheesy techno music, which is fine and dandy, but after awhile, it gets rather annoying. But seeing how this game is all about the action and interaction, it doesn’t really take away from the overall experience.

For those eager BDZ fans, this is another stellar title to add to your collection. For those new to the series, I would suggest at least renting the title, unless you like fighting games, then this is a definite must have. With an over whelming roster of fighters to choose from (once you unlock the rest), you are certainly going to spend some hours playing this game until you have gotten every secret possible within this game. Once that’s done, you can always branch over to the network battle mode and take on your friends in some head-to0head action. Not the best fighter out there, but a worthy title that DBZ fans have been looking for on a handheld for several years.


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