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Dragonball Z: Budokai (PSP)
Ross Liversidge
Author: Ross Liversidge

Ross founded the UK Anime Network back in 1995 and works in and around the anime industry.

Dragonball Z: Budokai (PSP)

I was really quite excited when this turned up. With my only other (limited) experience of fighting on the PSP limited to the 2D Darkstalkers title, I had high hopes for Atari’s Dragonball related 3D fighter.

I was struck by the colourful, cel-shaded preview screenshots, and the translation to screen is superb. Vibrant, fast and very attractive, the game certainly turned heads when I was playing it in the office.

The fighting is intuitive too – with 3 main buttons for control – ranged, melee and block, attacks are easy to pull off and you’ll soon create a tactical line of powerful combos with which to pummel your opponent. The ranged attacks provide a fantastic lightshow, as streams of energy fly around the 3D battlefield. Set to some decent (but unspectacular) music, it makes for quite a spectacle.
There’s also a second bar, alongside your health, called the Ki bar. The more you attack and successfully block attacks, the higher this bar goes (you can also power up with the shoulder buttons, but this leaves you vulnerable) and when full you can pull off super-moves, or in the case of the Saiyans, transform into a more powerful being.

There’s also a nifty little teleport feature, which can instantly change the outcome of a battle if used correctly – appearing behind an opponent as they launch into a misdirected combo will allow you to pummel the hell out of them, and it’s rather satisfying when you pull it off.

There are several modes of gameplay – the first of these is the story mode called Dragon Road. Here, you follow the basic plot outline of the movie “Fusion Reborn”, and while it’s worth playing to unlock new secrets and characters, the static cut scenes and bizarre plot aren’t much entertainment.

Far more interesting (for my money) is the Arcade mode, which ploughs you straight into a series of battles against the computer, and is fast, frantic and fun. Combat veterans may want to pump the game up to the Hard setting, as I completed this mode with Trunks on my first attempt, only losing 1 round. But then I am rather good at this sort of thing ^^

Other modes include the standard time attack and training modes, but chances are you’ll skip these in favour of the two previously mentioned.

One of the other rewards for winning bouts are cards, which you can combine to create your own custom profile. As a 27 year old male, I found this a bit pointless, but for a younger audience raised on Yu Gi Oh and Card Captors, this may be more appealing.

What we end up with is a game that suits the platform well – quickfire bouts of entertaining fighting, with enough hidden characters and moves to keep you playing until you’ve mastered it. How well it will fare with Tekken on the way is anyone’s guess, but for now it remains one of the most engaging games I’ve played on the system, and a very welcome change from the myriad racing titles we’ve been subjected to since launch.

Not deep, but a lot of quickfire fun and perfect for scrapping on the move!
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