When Dragon Ball Z first appeared on American television, I tried to get into it and watch it, but the problem was that I couldn’t afford weeks of my life to watch one fight. Maybe that appeals to some people, but it doesn’t do a thing for me. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I completely had an open mind when this game showed up for review. I mean, it’s the first fighting game on the Wii after all, so I was looking forward to how this game was going to innovate the genre by implementing a motion sensing control scheme. Not only that, but how well would it work? Could this be the beginning of a fighting game renaissance? The answers, unlike a plot line on the Dragon Ball series will unfold right before your eyes if you just keep reading.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 does a great job of looking like an episode of the hit animated show. The graphics are bright and colorful and each of the over 100 playable characters is a dead ringer for their anime counterpart because of the Cell shading. However, the backgrounds of the fighting stages are nearly devoid of scenery and even though much of the scenery is destructible, it’s not all that great looking, in fact a lot of it is really basic looking. But, the menus look pretty nice if that’s any consolation. Probably not. Sure, the characters look good, but the level design is weak and brings the overall look of the game down a notch. Not to mention that the increase in power that the Wii offers isn’t utilized at all, at least it feels that way.
In stark contrast to the graphics and their somewhat underachieving nature, the audio is much better mainly due to the fact that a lot of the game features voice acting and that includes much of the menu screens. The music is okay. It lacks a little bit of that epic feel that other fighting games have, but it stays true to the Dragon Ball universe so you can’t fault them for that, since they only have so much to work with. The sound effects could also use some work, but hey you can’t have it all your way, right?
Now, to answer the question of how a fighting game would work on the Wii. In case you didn’t notice, the Wii remote really only has two buttons, there are others, but they’re not as easily accessible as you might want them to be. That’s what the motion sensing remote is for to make up for the lack of buttons with something a little more intuitive. Yet, Dragon Ball Z barely even uses the motion detecting capabilities, and by barely using them I mean almost not at all. About the only thing you can do is wave the nunchuk either forward or pull it back to make your fighter run or fly in that direction. That’s it. End of story. Okay, well maybe it’s not the end, but that’s all they could manage to fit in? Absurd. I was hoping to be waving the remote around like a freak as I threw fireballs and punched my opponent into buildings, but no dice.
So getting back to the two button thing, because there are only two buttons you can expect to do a lot of mashing on those same buttons, over and over and over again. I was hoping to see over the top combinations that would send the enemy into deep space, instead what I got was a sequence that went like this: punch-punch-punch-charge punch-fly to him-punch-punch-punch-charge punch-throw projectile-fly to him-charge punch and you get the picture. Now at any given moment you can substitute any one of those commands for another, but in the end you’ve got no strategy, no insane combos to learn, no deep fighter. Factor in on top of that the fact that the computer at the more difficult settings is harder to beat than frozen eggs and you’ve got a game that ends up being no fun for anyone but the most hardcore DBZ fans. Yeah, there are a few different modes to choose from, but who cares if they all involve the same mindless fighting? Oh and you can use the GameCube controller, but why would you want to? If I wanted to use the GameCube controller, I’d buy a GameCube game, I wouldn’t buy a Wii game.
Does Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 offer a deep and rich experience? No, not really. Does it provide fanboys with all the DBZ they can handle and more? Yeah. There’s tons of fighters to unlock and lots of game to do it with. The unfortunate part is that it’s the same mindless fare over and again. So, if you’re looking for a fighting game on the Wii you’re better off waiting it out or picking up one of the many GameCube classics available. Failing to use some of the Wii systems notable features is inexcusable. Sure you can use the GameCube controller, but I don’t see the use of it when this game should’ve taken better advantage of the hardware they were given. For shame. This one is only for hardcore DBZ fans, everyone else should give it a rental at best.
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