A series of fighting games primarily for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable based off of the ever popular Shonen fighting manga series by Akira Toriyama, developed by Dimps.Dragon Ball Z: Budokai is a more traditional fighting game taking place in a full 3D environment allowing for sidestepping ala Tekken whilst of course including all of the series' special attacks. The games are also notable for allowing mid-battle transformations as well as battles in mid-air.Whilst the first two Budokai games were considered alright if nothing special by gamers, the third is considered the best for having an improved fighting engine and a robust cast of characters. Budokai 3 is notable for being one of the first DBZ games released overseas to feature playable characters from the movies and TV specials (Such as Bardock, Broly, Cooler and Gogeta.) as well as Dragon Ball GT (Omega Shenron and the Super Saiyan 4 versions of Goku, Vegeta and Gogeta) and even the original Dragon Ball (Kid Goku and some versions of the game having a King Piccolo costume for Piccolo.)The series also includes the Shin Budokai games for PlayStation Portable as well as psuedo HD sequel Burst Limit for PlayStation 3 and Xbox360 as well as Infinite World on PlayStation 2 as they were developed by the same group and use the same engine.Budokai 1 and 2 have received ports for the Nintendo GameCube as well and there is also a HD collection featuring Budokai 1 and 3 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox360.
Adaptational Badass: Mr. Satan/Hercule, who in the anime and manga's Lovable Coward being weak to superpowered villains who could destroy a continent with a lift of a finger, can now fight at an equal footing with a Super Saiyan, meaning you can have him legitimately defeat Cell in the Cell Games. In fact, in 1, one of the modes is that. His tenkaichi incarnation is instead a Lethal Joke Character with weak stats but can be a top tier if used legitimately.
All Just a Dream: The ending of Cell's What If? story in 1. It was just a nightmare he was having during the 10 days before the Cell Games.
Anime Theme Song: 1 used the original "Cha La HEAD Cha La" for the Japanese version and "Rock the Dragon" for the US version. Notably, the games from 2 all the way up to Infinite World and Burst Limit had brand new themes sung by Hironobu Kageyama himself.
Awesome but Impractical: Majin Vegeta. His one non-ultimate move does massive damage and only requires half a ki bar but in order to use him you need to equip the "Babidi's Mind Control" capsule and get knocked down while on the last health bar. It's very possible to get to the last health bar only to not ever be knocked down due to things like Dragon Rush or long teleporting chains. And once you get your power-up you still have very low health, unless you're clever enough to equip a senzu bean.
Going into Hyper Mode lets you pull off the cinematic and highly damaging Ultimate and Dragon Rush attacks. Too bad it also drains your Ki very quickly, making it easy for the opponent to wait it out, and failing to use either of those attacks by the time your Ki fully drains puts you into a dizzy state. Veterans will always tell newcomers to ignore Hyper Mode and focus on combos, as they are a far less risky way of dealing damage.
Some of the transformations are this. Particularly for characters that have several like Goku and Frieza. While it is incredibly satisfying to power up your ki and ascend through every super saiyan transformation up to SSJ4, it limits your options in fights since equipping all those transformations means you won't have many spare slots for special moves or support capsules.
While the Potara fusion averts this, the Fusion Dance does not. Yes the fusions are some of the most powerful characters in the game but not only is hyper mode required to activate them, their time limit means any smart player would just run away for the 30 (Gogeta or Gotenks) or 10 (SS4 Gogeta) seconds the fusion lasts.
The Bad Guy Wins: The What If? stories in 1 have this for Vegeta and Frieza. Averted with Cell, who accidently absorbs Krillin and loses.
Beam-O-War: A gameplay mechanic in 3. You can even pull these off with Piccolo's Destructive Wave which is a fireball as opposed to a beam. Its the only fireball move that can trigger these though.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The PAL version of the first game is known for this. Also invokes Narm like Vegeta screaming "Chikushoooou!!" being subtitled as "Oh you Aunt Sallies!" when Cell kills Trunks.
Boring but Practical: The teleport counter in 3 may not look flashy but it can save your life. Of course, the CPU likes to make use of it too.
Overlaps with Difficult but Awesome but combo cancels, i.e. guard as you are about to use a charging attack to create a new combo is not as flashy as using ultimate moves, dragon rush or fusion but executing these combos are the very thing that separates beginners and pro players.
Character Customization: You can equip different capsules on characters that can give them upgrades to their stats or items to use mid battle. Notably though you also have to give them capsules to let them use some of their specials and infamously in the original trilogy, for some characters, many slots had to be used up for Transformation capsules, of which several, like Goku and Frieza, had a lot. Infinite World consolidated this to one single capsule aptly named "Transform!"
Combined Energy Attack: The Spirit Bomb is present and usable by Goku and Perfect Cell, following on from a bluff he made in the series despite that Only the Pure of Heart can use it, though fans theorize that Cell can use it since his heart is pure (Albeit pure evil.) He also seems to be taking it forcefully in 2 onward where he shouts "Okay, planet, gimme that stupid energy!" (Which led to fans joking that he was drawing out and weaponizing the planet's stupidity) 3 also added Omega Shenron and his "Minus Energy Power Ball" formed from all the evils committed through Earth's history.
Infinite World also brings in Baby and his Revenge Death Ball move, even having him command his followers to "give him the power of all of (their) hatred."
Covers Always Lie: The cover of the European version has Majin Spopovich on it, despite the fact that Spopovich doesn't appear in the game and in fact wouldn't appear in a DBZ game until Buu's Fury and not playable until Tenkaichi 3.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Canonically, Goku has to be pure of heart to use the Spirit Bomb, and the anger of his Super Saiyan forms means he can't do said move. In the first two games, the Spirit Bomb ultimate is merely disabled when in Super Saiyan form. From Budokai 3 onward though trying to do a Spirit Bomb in any Super Saiyan form instead results in him doing the semi hidden Dragon Fist ultimate instead. During the animation, Goku even says that the "Spirit Bomb's fading!". Its also a shout out to the ending of Super Android 13 where Goku absorbs the Spirit Bomb into himself.
The fact that all of Vegeta's outfits have a damaged variant when he goes into Majin Vegeta mode.
You can get KOed if you fail the very first part of a Dragon Rush with low health (Wherein your opponent dodges your punch and kicks you to the ground.)
18's Accel Dance ultimate usually has her teaming up with 17 to beat the opponent senseless before breaking their arm. Doing it against 17 himself or while wearing 18's Buu saga outfit however has Krillin team up with 18.
Dummied Out: Budokai 1 has unused tournament announcer callouts for the Saibamen, Cell Junior (Who are unplayable Mooks in story mode) and Cui of all people (Who only appears in one cutscene in the Frieza saga.) To add to that, 3 has unused announcer soundbytes hinting that Zarbon, Dodoria and Android 19 were set to return, as well as a playable Bulma (A theory supported by a 3D model of Bulma appearing in one of the tutorial missions as well as a bonus DVD showing her VA Tiffany Vollmer recording fight shouts for her.) and some of the unlockable Dragon Universe sound files hints that Super 17 might have also been a playable character, or at least a story mode boss as said vocal has Goku greeting 17 in his gruff, Super Saiyan 4 voice.
Early-Bird Cameo: More or less. Pan, Bee and Giru appear on the load game menu in 3. Then Pan becomes playable in Infinite World.
3 counted as partly this for the overseas audience, partly Marth Debuted in Smash Bros. for Gogeta, who debuted in Fusion Reborn which would not be aired in the US until a year after the game's release. The same goes for Omega Shenron and Super Saiyan 4 Vegeta and Gogeta, as 3 was released before GT had ended its run in the US making Budokai 3 a bit of a spoiler. And in this case if you don't count GT, the presence of Goku's "Dragon Fist" as an ultimate move counts as one for the 13th movie.
Early Installment Weirdness: Budokai 1. Transformations increase attack gradually at the cost of HEAVY ki drain (Just look at Goku's ki drain in Kaio- sorry, King Kai Fist x2 form in comparison to his Super Saiyan form.), all beam attacks like Kamehameha are instead large fireballs (Thekamehameha itself being coloured yellow), characters can revert back to their first forms if hit with low enough energy (Yes, this counts for Frieza and Cell as well.), the story mode only goes up to the end of the Cell saga (though it has Great Saiyaman as a playable character) and having to buy Dragon Balls in Mr. Popo's shop rather than finding them in-game. On the other hand it is also the only game in the original trilogy to actually feature cutscenes in its story mode.
Speaking of which, Goku's Kaioken form was referred to as "King Kai Fist", a semi-correct translation of Kaioken in 1 and 2. Hilariously in contrast to Goku having a lot of Super Saiyan transformations in 3, he only has his first Super Saiyan form in the first game and instead has increasingly stronger versions of Kaioken. 2 shortened it to just "King Kai Fist x20" and 3 finally changed its name to Kaioken.
Easter Egg: The Saibaman's Self Destruct technique is a fairly useless attack that kills you instantly whilst doing moderate damage to your enemy, and is more or less used as a sort of spit-in-the-face or flashy ender. When its done on Yamcha, however, its an instant kill and a win awarded to the Saibaman, complete with Yamcha lying in his classic foetal position. There's also a lot of special intros when pitting one character against a certain opponent, the cutest being Goten versus Omega Shenron:
Goten: (dancing around) Shenron, I want candy!
Omega Shenron: (Folding arms, not amused.) I don't grant wishes for candy!
Fanservice: Not just the cast of characters (which includes guys like Broly in 3) but what attacks they have, such as Tien having his Dodonpa and Volley Ball Fist, which he never uses in the Z series, not to mention costumes. Its quite fun being able to transform Vegeta into his Super Saiyan 2 or Majin form in his old Saiyan Saga armour.
Fusion Dance: All fusion characters are in this as well starting from 2 onward. Unlike in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi though they're not immediately selectable from the menu but are instead capsules you equip to have certain characters fuse. Fusion Dance types such as Gotenks and Gogeta last for a limited time whilst Vegito and Kibitoshin last for the entire match. Furthermore you can fail the dance fusions resulting in a brief helpless moment of playing as a fat Gotenks or Veku. The only exception to this is Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta whose fusion is done automatically. You can even fail the Potara fusion resulting in the enemy catching the thrown earring and breaking it, preventing you from re-initiating the fusion again for the whole match.
2 added What If? fusions as well, such as Tiencha/Yamhan (Tien and Yamcha fusing via the dance) and a follow-through on the Potara fusion of Goku and Hercule/Mr. Satan, named Gokule/Gotan. They all have combined versions of both parties' signature attacks (Such as Dodohameha) as well as Gokule having an ULTRA Spirit Bomb.
Heroic RROD: Hyper Mode, done with a touch of the L2 button in 3. You get a red aura and provided you have enough ki, can pull off an Ultimate or initiate a Dragon Rush. Of course if you let it run out without doing anything useful, you're left stunned for a while.
Another example of this is Tien's Neo Tri-Beam Ultimate, which is the only Ultimate in 3 and Infinite World to do more damage if the defending opponent wins the power struggle, though it takes a horrifying amount of health from Tien, since its the same Tri-Beam he used against Cell, which nearly killed Tien due to overuse.
Hypocrite: Vegeta in his What If? story in 1. He gets angry at Yajirobe mentioning the then-dead Nappa, so angry in fact it makes him go Super Saiyan...despite the fact that Vegeta killed Nappa himself for being weak and useless after losing to Goku.
Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: A version of Budokai 3 exists that allows players to select either English or Japanese voices as well as 3 extra costumes for Goku, Piccolo and Future Trunks. There was a bit of a snafu wherein vanilla Budokai 3 discs were shipped with Limited Edition packaging.
Marathon Level: The Legend of Hercule/Mr. Satan in Budokai 1 which had you playing as Hercule/Mr. Satan and attempting to beat all the good guys and Cell. Without any health replenishing. And if you lose once, game over.
Market-Based Title: The first three games are merely called Dragon Ball Z, 2 and 3 in Japan. For ease of reference they got the Budokai subtitle overseas.
Mythology Gag: Goku's normal ultimate is the Spirit Bomb. Perform this move with any Super Saiyan transformation, and this becomes the Dragon Fist... A significantly more powerful Homage to how Kid Goku killed the original Piccolo.
No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted in 3 wherein Broly has his own Dragon Universe story where he flies around the world blowing stuff up and killing Goku's friends. You can even get an alternate ending where he kills Goku and goes on to annihilate the whole universe. Also averted in 1 with the What If? episodes "Raging Frieza" and "The True Ruler" where you play as Frieza, kill Goku, achieve immortality and decide to go blow up Earth.
No Kill Like Overkill: These games keep the moves seen in the DBZ series, including the ones that severely damage planets. You could easily blow up a good chunk of the world in an average fight. It never goes well for the arena involved.
Real Men Wear Pink: Gokule's Spirit Bomb is bright pink. Its also the strongest ultimate in the game.
Regional Bonus: The Japanese version of 2 had extra costumes for some characters and an extra level. The PAL version of the same game got a few of the costumes, as well as the PAL versions of 2 and 3 having the opening theme tunes with the vocals left intact.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: Infinite World's AI is much harder than previous games, as it uses techniques up to and including move cancels.
Shout-Out: Goku's semi-hidden Dragon Fist Ultimate from Budokai 3 onward is the same technique used in the 13th movie Wrath of the Dragon as well as Dragon Ball GT. To add to that when he tries to do a Spirit Bomb first and realises its fading, he absorbs the bomb into himself for a power boost much like he did in Super Android 13.
GT Goku's Super Kamehameha Ultimate in Infinite World is the same one he used against Commander Black in Dragon Ball: The Path to Power.
Simon Says Minigame: How 3's Dragon Rush and the Potara fusions work. You can stop the opponent's Dragon Rush early by pressing the same button as your opponent. Get it wrong and the Dragon Rush continues or your opponent fuses.
SNK Boss: When playing as Goku, Budokai 3 has Cell. Before him, none of the previous bosses really stand too much of a chance (with the possible exception of Frieza in his full power form). Cell has more health than you, and is incredibly durable to most of the attacks that you have unlocked at this point. The Kamehameha sort of helps, but good luck landing a hit on him with it because he usually blocks it or moves out of its way.
The Saibaman's Self Destruct special - does mediocre damage, but considering the Saibaman's tactic is to Zerg Rush an opponent, it's a great way to take a chunk of health off the oponent as one of them nears death.
Tien's Neo Tri-Beam - If you fail it, you get to deal out an outstanding amount of damage, but you end up taking a good deal of punishment yourself. This is opposed to other characters where winning the power struggle usually increases the damage - in Tien's case, winning deals less damage, but doesn't hurt himself either.
Tien's Ultimate is infamous for being the easiest move to get a rare Double KO with.
Wake-Up Call Boss: Again, Cell in Budokai 3. As mentioned above, none of the bosses before him are too much of a challenge.
What If?: One of its most popular features is having What If? storylines in all it games, the most famous being a what if wherein Cell accidentally absorbs Krillin and turns into a pint-sized, orange, massively depowered version of his Perfect form who has trouble beating Yamcha. Budokai 2 went beyond even that and had what if Fusions (Tien and Yamcha becoming Tiencha via Fusion Dance as well as featuring the hypothetical Gokule/Gotan fusion of Goku and Hercule/Mr. Satan) as well as what if absorption forms for Super Buu (Consisting of Vegeta, Tien and Yamcha at the same time, Frieza and Cell.) and Majin versions of Frieza and Cell.