Video Game / Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi
The fighting video game series, known as Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! in Japan, based upon the popular shonen manga series.

Unlike the Budokai series, which was developed by Dimps, this series was developed by Spike. The first game was PS2 exclusive, the second and third titles also found their way to the Wii.

Gameplay in this series is focused on freeform movement, literally being able to go wherever the player wanted; take cover and power up or fly right into the opponent's face, it's all your call. There were also destroyable enviroments for the players to knock each other into (or destroy on their own), which may also contain the Dragon balls. (In versus, it's health, ki, and favorite gauge restoratives from BT2 onward.)

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     Tropes present in multiple games, and/or the series as a whole 
  • Adapted Out: Bio-Broly is decidedly not included in the story modes of the games. Including 3 where the story mode has all the sagas and movies but that film. World's Strongest wasn't included in 2, but appeared in 3.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI will actually dash into beams and keep edging on opponents despite their gearing up for an attack...among other things.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Kamehameha and other charge type beams look great and do a lot of damage...but they take so long to charge that a character can easily dodge them with simple liberal use of the control stick. Guess Nuova Shenron was right after all....
    • Sometimes, this can be circumvented by hitting the opponent with a Heavy Smash, thus stunning them for a few seconds, giving you plenty of time to charge it up to near-full power.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: In the Space stage, every character can fight on it regardless of whether or not they canonically have the ability to survive a vacuum.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: The first two games' story modes have you always play as the good guys (minus one specific battle in the Frieza Saga's What If? story), even in battles they canonically lose in. The third game would avert this by having you play as whoever is supposed to win.
  • Battle Intro: Plenty of specific match-ups have their own dialogue.
  • Berserk Button: Broly can go into MAX Power just by saying Goku's (original Saiyan) NAME.
  • Boring, but Practical: The explosive wave is the most common Blast 1 attack in the game, but it's the only attack that's almost guaranteed to hit at close range.
    • Also, Full Power Energy Wave. It's just a laser and half the cast shares the move, but it's quick, strong, and efficient.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Since this is Dragon Ball, this is to be expected. Interestingly, though, this is inverted a lot of the time; many of the attacks are named after a phrase the character says.
  • Character Customization: Ultimate Tenkaichi's Character Creator aside, all the games allow you to tweak the stats of existing characters.
  • Charged Attack: Rush attacks and Ki blasts. some Blast 2 attacks can do this in Tenkaichi 2 and 3.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: Certain transformations (mostly Oozarus) tend to be worse than their preceding forms.
  • Combo Breaker: The series has a lot of variations, but uses up Ki and the opponent can counter your counter attack, to having a Beehive Barrier sort of shield appear with a secondary Mana Meter that's not the Ki Gauge, but the delay is longer than the opponents recovery time, so you can't start a combo with it, and an easily executable knockback wave Cast from Hit Points that gives you a fair chance to counter attack and start a combo.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: You get a unique KO screen (with text that says "PERFECT!" overlaid over the screen) if you manage to defeat an enemy without being hit once or taking any damage at all.
  • Distant Reaction Shot
  • Divergent Character Evolution: As entries of the games have been released, character animations have become more distinct and each blast attack are given a unique name or animation for a specific character that is based heavily on the anime scenes.
    • Raditz, for example, has a Gekiretsu Madan variant and his Rush Attack is little more than juggling the opponent in 2. 3 gives him a lone Energy Ball, and a new version of his Rush Attack where he attacks the opponent from behind.
    • Vegeta with scouter and Vegeta is also a good example as in the first game, they have completely identical movesets and blasts to the point that without the scouter, you wouldn't even know who you are playing with. But by the second game, Vegeta (Scouter) received a distinct blast attacks (Such as Final Garlic Cannon and Dirty Fireworks) to the point that it is now easy to differentiate between the two.
  • Fanservice: Even people who dislike the games admire the sheer amount of this put into each one of them.
  • Finishing Move: Blast 2 attacks.
  • Giant Equals Invincible: Sorta, while giant combatants can still be defeated by smaller ones, they don't flinch against normal attacks and can't be harmed by combo specials. Attacking with Ki-based attacks on the other hand...
  • Kamehame Hadouken: It comes with the territory.
  • Ki Attacks: Comes with the territory. Most Blast 2 and Ultimate Blasts are these.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Tenkaichi 1 had a pretty ordinary roster size for a fighting game. 2 had 129 characters, and 3 had 161.
  • Limit Break: Ultimate Blast attacks.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: Androids, with the exception of Cell, cannot charge Ki traditionally, and have to wait until the gauge fills up on its own to charge their Limit Break. Gero and Android 19 function slightly differently from other Androids, in that their gauge stops filling after a certain point, forcing them to either steal energy from their opponent by grabbing them, or absorb ki attacks thrown by their opponent (including specials).
  • Moveset Clone: Zigzagged. A number of the Oozaru characters are derivative of each other, having very few of their own unique moves, with a lot of specials recycled from each other, namely rock throwing or mouth blasts. Fasha, Scouter Vegeta, King Vegeta, and Baby Vegeta, however, have their own distinct specials and moves. In Baby Vegeta's case, he's also much faster than the other Oozaru characters, on top of sharing the super armor and sheer power the other characters do.
  • Mythology Gag: Everything in the game. The most obvious examples are certain characters' rush attacks, which are often straight adapatations of combos performed by the character within the show, but how a character moves and fights is more often than not altered to match the show. For example, Super Vegito will mostly use his legs to attack because thats what he did when he fought Buu. Or Vegeta will headbutt like he did to Goku as Majin Vegeta. Piccolo's animation for his fully charged ki blast resembles the attack he used on Radditz at the very beginning of the series. It's jaw dropping how many details the Devs worked into the game.
    • Furthermore, whenever using either Piccolo (Junior) or Supreme Kai in the World Tournament modes in any game, the VS splash screen will display their names as "Majunior" and "Shin" respectively, said names being the psuedonyms they went under during the tournament episodes they debuted in.
  • No Sell: Individual game mechanics aside, skills such as Saiyan Soul and False Courage will increase defense to the point that this is invoked with the buffed character taking the damage dealt by the attacks but otherwise being completely unaffected until either the buff expires or a certain threshold of damage is reached, which makes the technique fail automatically.
  • Not Quite Flight: Certain characters, namely most of the ones from the original Dragon Ball cannot actually fly in 2, and instead struggle to stay in the air, and fall after a certain amount of time. 3 keeps this limitation, but has an optional item to give any characters that can't fly the ability to.
  • Old Save Bonus: Budokai Tenkaichi 1 had a password machine that allowed the player to use custom characters created in Budokai 3. Budokai Tenkaichi 2 rewarded players with a Budokai Tenkaichi 1 save file on their memory card with 100000 Zenny, the game's currency. The PS2 version of Budokai Tenkachi 3 allowed players to access modes from the first two games using the Disc Fusion feature.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: In these games, Kid Goku and Raditz can take on Majin Buu and Broly on relatively even footing.
  • Sword Beam: Some sword-wielding fighters, i.e. Trunks and Yajirobe, have this as a basic charged ki blast or a Blast 2. They're unblockable by regular guarding.
  • Unexpected Character: There are plenty of these to go around, given how big the roster is (3's in particular is enormous) but the most notable is probably Grandpa Gohan.
  • Water Is Air: In-series we've had a couple of scenes with characters seemingly floating and even charging attacks underwater, so it makes more sense than you'd think at first.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: For all their size, giant characters are just as vulnerable to beams as everyone else, and their large size leave them unable to dodge as effectively.
    • They sorta make up for it by being immune to grab and rush attacks.
  • What If?: All the games have this to some extent. In some, there are What If? battles, in others, whole What If? stories, but in all of them, you can get different scenes/quotes in story mode if you win fights under circumstances you're not supposed too.

    Budokai Tenkaichi 1 
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: In the opening cinematic, Piccolo takes a painful-looking punch from Cell in the gut - then grabs his arm and smirks as Gohan hovers into view, charging a Kamehameha.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Jeice's infamous "Don't play stupid with me, wanker!" intro line. The radar caught on in the sequels and cut out the "wanker" part, though you can still hear a slight "w" sound.
  • Mighty Glacier: The two Oozaru characters. Without the advanced fighting combos of later games, they were all but invincible.
  • What If? In this game: Galactic Tyrant: Frieza defeats Goku and goes on to knock Cooler down a few pegs; The Ultimate Android: Cell beats Gohan and later fights Super 17; The Destructive Majin: Buu destroys the world and later fights Janemba; The Plan to Conquer Earth: The villains actually defeat the Z-fighters; and The Revenge of the Saiyans: The Saiyans rally together to kill Frieza.

    Budokai Tenkaichi 2 
  • Badass Boast: Nearly half of the entrance and exit quotes, and the taunts.
  • Berserk Button: In Raditz's What If? story, he flies into a rage and suddenly becomes a competent warrior when Piccolo calls him a weakling.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Most characters, such as Broly, Cell, Majin Buu, and even base form Goku's supermove that would annihilate a stage that isn't the Tenkaichi tournament, Hyperbolic Time Chamber, and simply "Alien Planet", as their supermoves will turn both Earth and Namek into a charred wreck.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of Great Ape Baby's intro lines is "I believe it's time for this monkey to spank YOU!". Furthermore, 18 refers to Zangya as a "skank," in their special intro.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: A particular problem in BT2's story mode where practically 75% of fights in Story mode more or less demanded you win yet showed a cutscene of whoever you used weary and whining about their opponent being too strong whilst said opponent stood there all cocksure and untouched.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: In the story mode, Piccolo vs Raditz, Gohan and Krillin vs Dodoria, and Goten vs Gohan are battles that the player is supposed to lose, and if it's your first time playing those battles, likely will lose.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Oozaru Baby and Broly.
  • Luminescent Blush: 18 sports one of these if you win in Tournament Mode.
  • Regional Bonus: The PAL and Japanese Wii ports got 5 extra characters (Appule, a Frieza Soldier, King Piccolo, Pilaf and Cyborg Tao.)
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: This game went the most overboard with the planet-frying attacks. 3 toned it back down slightly.
  • What If?: Three stories. What If? Raditz lost his memory when coming to Earth, like Goku did? What If? Zarbon betrayed Frieza and wanted the Dragon Balls for himself? What If? Goku and Vegeta focused on their rivalry instead of fighting Majin Buu? They're all unlocked by winning otherwise unwinnable fights.
    • And, a first for the series, What If? characters. Specifically, Oozaru forms of Saiyan characters who never had one on-screen before (Raditz, Nappa and Turles)

    Budokai Tenkaichi 3 
  • Character Customization: Tenkaichi 3 lets you equip 'Strategy' items, that cause AIs of your custom characters to fight a certain way, such as focusing on defense, or focusing on using blast attacks from a distance.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • Goku, after having his entire range of abilities for the first two games, even ones he eventually just stopped using, has been split into "Early", "Middle", and "End", which all have abilities and transformations he'd have had at the time (Saiyan Saga, Namek Saga, and Cell-Buu Saga, respectively).
    • Adult Gohan was used to represent Future Gohan in 2. 3 has Future Gohan proper as an unlockable character with a more distinct moveset.
  • Fountain of Youth: Invoked if you pit GT Goku against Chi-Chi: Goku will wonder if his wife "got smaller" too.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • In the original series, Devil Man's Devilmite Beam only works if there are negative thoughts in the target's mind. In the game, it deals damage, but it depends on the character: the more evil they are, the higher the damage dealt. If the target happens to be pure of heart, nothing happens.
    • While you can't otherwise make a team full of the same character, you can make full teams of Saibamen, Cell Juniors, and Meta-Coolers, which reflect the former two's expendable status in canon, and the latter's abilities derived from the Big Gete Star.
  • Guest Fighter: Arale Norimaki.
  • Marathon Level: Survival Mode, which contrary to most usages of modes named that, ends after fifty opponents. Of course, that's fifty opponents in a game where the most you can have in any other mode is five.
  • Morality-Guided Attack: The Devilmite Beam, which will barely scratch Kid Goku but can one-shot Big Bad-level villains.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted. In the story mode, you play as whatever character is supposed to win that fight, this includes Frieza, Broly, and others.
  • No Sell:
    • Certain characters will have weak energy blasts bounce off by being in MAX power.
    • A Red Potara makes it so the most powerful Kamehameha from the most powerful characters in MAX power mode will only do two digits in damage. In a game where a health bar is 10,000 points.
    • Perfect Guard does this to anything that is blockable.
    • This is the effect of the Devilmite Beam on someone purehearted like Goku.
  • Purposely Overpowered: Red Potara CPU characters that require secret passwords to unlock. Needless to say, they can become quite the SNK Boss if you decide to fight against them. They all have the following Yellow Potara abilities:
    • Health +30000
    • All stats +3
    • Sturdy Body (won't be easily stunned)
    • Will also easily stun opponents
    • Guard Crushes remove a huge amount of Ki
    • Also, can't be Guard Crushed
    • Health and Ki are slowly recovered
    • Ki charges ultra fast
    • All 4 power ups
    • Vanish Attack/Dragon Homing +2
    • Blast 1 costs -1
    • Blast 2/UB/Ki Blasts costs half
    • Various movements will cost no Ki at all (Dragon Dashes, for instance)
    • Movements whose costs aren't nullified will only cost half Ki
    • Auto Afterimage while in Max Power
    • Takes no damage while guarding
    • Gains huge advantage in Clashes
    • Dodging a barrage type Blast makes the character dodge the rest automatically
  • Situational Damage Attack: While most attacks are either fixed or charged, the damage of Babidi's Ultimate Blast depends on the amount of successful grabs beforehand, and Devilman's depends on the Character Alignment of the opponent — if they're more evil, they take more damage.
  • We Have Reserves: In his movie, Meta-Cooler is mass-produced by the Big Gete Star. As such, he's one of the few characters that can be picked repeatably in Team Battle.
  • What If?: Four battles: What If? Goku and Arale had a friendly match? What If? Dr Gero sent Android 16 back in time to kill Kid Goku? What If? Bardock actually managed to rally a Saiyan resistance against Frieza? What If Devilman confronted Metal Frieza's crew when they invaded Earth during the Android Saga?

    Ultimate Tenkaichi 
  • Inconsistent Dub: It is very clear from the voicework in Ultimate Tenkaichi that most of the voices are directly copy-pasted from Raging Blast especially considering that the voices switches between original and Kai without re-recording any lines that are voiced before the change. This leads to instances such as Teen Gohan having some lines by his former voice actress Stephanie Nadolny alongside lines from his darrin'd Kai voice actress Colleen Clinkenbeard.
  • It Amused Me: This is literally the reason why Omega Shenron wished the world to be a hellhole in Hero Mode. The Hero, already tired and frustrated especially since Omega Shenron made him regather the Dragon Balls again just because he's a dick, is extremely pissed off when he hears this.
    Omega Shenron: "This is all for my own amusement! Peace is boring!"
  • Luck-Based Mission: The battles are largely decided by clashes, which can only be won if you choose the right button relative to the opponent's choice. But since you can't see what the opponent's choosing...
  • Moveset Clone: A common cause of the game's lackluster reviews; all characters have the exact same gameplay.
  • Overly Long Fighting Animation: All super and ultimate attacks are cutscenes.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Especially visible in this game due to the characters being identical. Yamcha's Super Spirit Ball is every bit as effective as Buu's Planet Burst.
  • Press X to Not Die: The boss battles work like this at some points.
  • Scenery Porn: The graphics are the most detailed and flashiest of all the DBZ games.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Android #18 is the only playable female in the game.
  • Spectral Weapon Copy: Even if they already have a sword, custom characters will don a spectral sword in order to use Future Trunks', Janemba's, and Dabura's special attacks.
  • Super Mode: Strike Booster.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: To a limited extent. Hairstyles and outfits from the show can be picked up.

Alternative Title(s): Dragon Ball Z Sparking