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Video Game / Dragon Ball Z: Budokai

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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 (or Budoukai via romaji issues, and simply known as just Dragon Ball Z in Japan) 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 the PlayStation Portable as well as pseudo HD sequel Burst Limit for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and Infinite World for the PlayStation 2 as they were developed by the same group and use the same engine. The said Shin Budokai games in Japan was when this series of games actually started to use the term Budokai as well.

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 Xbox 360.

These games provide examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: Budokai 1 and 2 were a lot more slow and methodical due to the primitive fighting system and lack of defensive options, requiring you to plan a couple steps in advance to avoid getting smacked down. Budokai 3 onwards is a lot faster and flashier thanks to the overhauled fighting system, combining more fluid combo strings with instantaneous counter moves and over-the-top cinematic Ultimate Attacks.
  • 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, the "Legend of Mr. Satan" mode focuses on this aspect.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Done on purpose in Vegeta's What If? story in Budokai 1, where he achieves Super Saiyan while on Earth, due to a combination of getting stronger by beating Goku, Gohan and Krillin and his rage when he perceives Yajirobe's remarks about Nappa as an insult of the Saiyans' honor.
  • Adapted Out: Due to Budokai 2's very roundabout way of telling its story, certain characters were straight up gone as a result, such as Kid Gohan, Frieza and Cell's previous transformations (they both start out in their Final and Perfect forms), Android 19, Dodoria and Zarbon.
    • 3 doesn't bother with the bulky Super Saiyan Grade 2 and 3 sub-transformationsnote  used by Vegeta and Future Trunks to fight Semi-Perfect Cell; in their place Trunks is given Super Saiyan 2, a form he wouldn't achieve until he returned in Dragon Ball Super.
  • 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, it being the only game to use said theme. Notably, the games from 2 all the way up to Infinite World and Burst Limit had brand new themes sung by Hironobu Kageyama himself, although the US releases of Budokai 2 and 3 only have instrumentals.
  • Aura Vision: This is how the "Ki Sense" is depicted on the world map of Dragon Universe in 3, with points of interest giving one off.
  • 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 in 3 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. The Shin Budokai games and Infinite World axed Hyper Mode and Dragon rush, allowing Ultimates to be used straight away.
    • 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 Super Saiyan 4, 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.
    • Some of the Breakthroughs. These unlockable capsules will equip every ability for a particular character, but at the cost of all of their slots. These can be useful for characters with a lot of skills and transformations, such as Goku, but for characters with fewer skills and no transformations, like Tien or Yamcha, you're better off equipping the abilities separately and saving the other slots for support capsules.
    • In Burst Limit, you can choose which Ultimate Attack your character can use before the start of each match, which also influences how many bars of Ki you can store in a match (lowest 3, highest 5). While the 5 Ki Ultimates are obviously much more powerful, it also takes longer to get a full Ki charge to be able to use it, which also makes it harder to activate Aura Spark or to get transformations in for certain characters. Goku takes this one step further, as his 5-Ki Spirit Bomb Ultimate not only results in him taking longer to reach Super Saiyan, he also has no Ultimate by the time he reaches that state. If you're playing Goku, you're better off going with the Super/Warp Kamehameha attacks instead.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The What If? stories in 1 have this for Vegeta and Frieza. Averted with Cell, who accidentally absorbs Krillin, barely beats Yamcha and gets fried by Tien (and it was All Just a Dream anyways).
  • 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. It's the only fireball move that can trigger these though.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The PAL version of the first game is known for this due to using subtitles differing from the US release. While it tries to be more accurate to the original Japanese writing (for example, Goku's "I Am" speech,) the result is very slipshod. Also invokes Narm like Vegeta screaming "Chikushoooou!!" being subtitled as "Oh you Aunt Sallies!" when Cell kills Trunks and Piccolo calling Raditz a "meanie." About its only saving grace was that it was more liberal with curse words, with the occasional "Damn" slipping through.
  • 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.
  • Broad Strokes:
    • Budokai 2 very loosely adapts the Saiyan Saga up to the Buu saga, throwing in some curve balls like Majin Frieza and Cell, Tien and Yamcha fusing, Vegeta sending both Raditz and Nappa to Earth as a diversion while he takes on Frieza on Namek, Gero creating a modified army of Saibaimen dubbed the Saiba Rangers and so on and so forth. So much is different that it wouldn't be a stretch to call Budokai 2 an AU story.
    • Budokai 3 does what it can to adapt Dragon Ball GT, but that proves to be difficult when the only aspects that made it into the game are Super Saiyan 4 transformations, Pan, Gogeta and Omega Shenron and even then Pan only shows up on the game's load/save game menu.
  • 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!"
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: In Cell's What If? story in the first game, the variation of Perfect Cell gained from absorbing Krillin weakened him enough so that Yamcha and Tien could take him down.
  • Clothing Damage:
    • Each of Vegeta's outfits in 3 receive this when he turns into his Majin self.
    • Goku had a battle-damaged version of his orange gi available in some versions of Budokai 2, Budokai 3 and Infinite World.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Goku's Spirit Bomb is typically blue, whilst Cell's Spirit Bomb is orange-red in 1 and green from 2 onward, and Gokule/Gotan's is bright pink.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: In Budokai 3 and Infinite World, if for whatever reason you don't make any inputs for at least 10 minutes, your player character will look at the screen with a confused look.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of the European version of Budokai 1 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. Not just that, but the back of the box has pictures of Majin Buu, Babidi, Dabura, and Majin Vegeta, none of whom appear in this game.
  • Curse Cut Short: One of Dabura's damage shouts is "Son of a-!"
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • On the surface, Infinite World doesn't seem much different from Budokai 3, but mechanically, it's a whole different beast. For starters, the game runs under a modified version of the Shin Budokai engine, meaning some things you could get away with in earlier games won't fly here. The standard PPPPE command string no longer works, transformations are now Down+E instead of P+K+G, charging is mapped to its own button rather than holding down G and double tapping Back, and you don't need to be in Hyper Rush mode to activate your Ultimate attack (You just have to press Up+E).
    • Burst Limit also uses a modified form of the Shin Budokai games, ditching the P and K buttons for R and S commands, transformations are mapped to L1/RB instead of Down+E, and probably the most damning of all, manual Ki charge was removed, with your Ki meter instead passively charging up overtime.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In the US version of Vegeta's What If story in 1, he expresses great anger at Nappa's death, despite being the one who killed him. Goku pointing it out only makes him angrier for knowing nothing of Saiyan pride. Unlike canon, where he killed him explicitly because he couldn't fight anymore after being paralyzed by Goku's beating, he implies that being unable to fight is a Fate Worse than Death for Saiyans. Yajirobe refusing to join him in light of Vegeta killing Nappa is the final straw that pushes Vegeta's grief and anger to a Super Saiyan transformation, to his own surprise. In the Japanese and PAL versions, Vegeta's only reaction to Yajirobe's comment is a line similar to Goku's about Krillin.
    Vegeta: I gave Nappa a noble warrior's death. It was what he deserved! (audible snap, before he transforms in a blast of power) HE WAS A SAIYAN!!!
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • When transformed, Cooler has radically different frame data compared to his starting form, essentially making him an entirely new character thanks to his larger frame.
    • When selecting Goku's Spirit Bomb Ultimate in Burst Limit, he'll lose access to it when he reaches Super Saiyan. Whether or not that's a good thing most likely depends on how often one usually uses it.
    • Also in Burst Limit, Cell's Drain Life Ultimate changes when he enters Perfect Form, going from using his tail to suck the life energy out of his opponent to grabbing them in a chokehold instead, akin to Android 19 and Dr. Gero.
    • Selecting any Super Saiyan form for Goku in Shin Budokai will also give him access to the Super Spirit Bomb Ultimate, and activating it mid-match will serve as an alternate transformation method.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Guard-Cancelling, a (probably) unintentional mechanic where you can back out of any charge attack by tapping the Guard button, allowing you to extend your combos for as long as you can manage (or until the damage scaling kicks in). To most high-tiered players, this technique is absolutely vital to learn in order to stand a chance in competitive play, and the enemy AI will not hesitate to use it against you in Z+ difficulties.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Pan, Bee and Giru appear on the load game menu in 3. Then Pan becomes playable in Infinite World, with Giru showing up in her Ultimate.
    • 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, but had long since aired in Japan. 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 "Super 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 (The Kamehameha 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, not to mention being the only one to not feature Cel Shading.
    • Speaking of which, Goku's Kaioken form was referred to as "King Kai Fist", a surprisingly correct if overly literal 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 it's done on Yamcha, however, it's an instant kill and a win awarded to the Saibaman, complete with Yamcha lying in his classic fetal 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!
    • Budokai 3 has a loading screen Easter Egg that can be considered pretty morbid since it's dependent on the state of your game disc. You can grow Saibamen during the load screen by rotating the control sticks, but if for whatever reason the game hangs on that screen, then red Saibamen will start to appear. Infinite World has something similar where if the game stays on the loading screen for too long, then the background will turn black and a herd of Korins will fall from the sky.
    • In Budokai 3, if both players wait a while, the character Player 1 is playing looks at the screen, with their expression often ranging from confused to concerned.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the first game's English dub, Cell finds siccing Yamcha on him, by himself, unfair to Yamcha in his What If? story. Possibly justified because he had absorbed Krillin instead of 18, and Krillin's heroic heart might've had some influence.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: The injuries from Goku and Raditz getting hit by Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon, as well as Krillin blasting Vegeta in the chest on Namek, look pretty gnarly in the first Budokai's cinematics. While they were visceral-looking in their original release, the HD remasters on PS3 and Xbox 360 censor these injuries.
  • Finishing Move: Ultimate attacks such as Goku's Spirit Bomb are all present and accounted for.
  • 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.
  • Gaiden Game: The Shin Budokai games for the PSP may look like the console Budokai games, but not only do they have changes made to the engine (such as the Punch and Kick buttons being replaced by Rush and Smash commands), their story modes are completely original stories based off Fusion Reborn and the aftermath of the Cell Saga chapter "The Other Outcome", the latter of which explores the idea of Majin Buu awakening in Future Trunks' timeline.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Budokai 2 never tells you that by pressing the Transformation command (P+K+E) pre-fusion, you can switch out between the Goten and Trunks on the fly if you have the Fusion Capsule equipped for them (which also doubles as a Breakthrough-Lite).
    • Speaking of 2, certain characters can only be unlocked by defeating certain enemies with a specific character. For example, did you know that in order to unlock Videl, you need to beat Gohan Absorbed Buu with Hercule on the sixth world map? But in order to play as Hercule, you have to beat Fat Buu with Great Saiyaman on the fifth world map, but in order to get Great Saiyaman, you have to finish off Cell on the fourth world map with Gohan.
    • Budokai 3 has a lot of these in Dragon Universe mode, as certain What If? events and extra capsules and characters can be easily missed if you don't have a walkthrough of sorts (For example, in order to unlock Uub and his Dragon Universe story, you have to finish off Kid Buu with the Super Spirit Bomb in Goku's Dragon Universe, no excuses, which requires having Spirit bomb equipped. At least doing so and landing the move leads to Goku using Super Spirit bomb automatically).
    • Burst Limit has Drama Pieces that can be used in multiplayer modes so long as you managed to unlock them in the game's story mode. Too bad most of them have incredibly cryptic and specific unlock triggers that makes it easy to accidentally lock yourself out of earning them in battle. And before you start searching for a full unlock save, the game has a lock on its save data that prevents you from copying a completed save and Cutting the Knot.
  • 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 it's the same Tri-Beam he used against Cell, which nearly killed Tien due to overuse.
  • Kamehame Hadouken: But of course, as expected for a game from one of the Trope Codifiers!.
  • Life Meter: Always present but in 3 the life meter is a multi-layered colored bar on the lens of a scouter.
  • Limit Break: The aforementioned Ultimate attacks.
  • Mana Meter: Ki gauges, which from Budokai 3 onward have a higher regenerating limit depending on the character and what form they're at. Certain characters like Omega Shenron are able to automatically regenerate ki up to the maximum of 7 bars.
  • 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. Japan did get the Shin Budokai games under said titles eventually.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: Burst Limit has "Drama Pieces" that you can equip to your character before starting a match. Fulfilling their activation requirements mid-battle will trigger a short cutscene followed by a bonus effect such as recovering health, giving you an attack, defense and/or Ki regeneration boost, or lets you negate an attack or deliver a cheap shot at the opponent.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Budokai 2 was this for 1, and Infinite World was this for 3.
  • Multiple Endings: Shin Budokai: Another Road's story mode has these for the early chapters of its story mode depending on how well the player does, with at least one averting You Can't Thwart Stage One by having Trunks defeat Babidi and Dabura before they can unseal Majin Buu, while others are blatantly The Bad Guy Wins bad ending territory.
  • Multi-Slot Character: The various transformations and fusions are treated as power-ups and therefore don't have too many playable units of the iconic characters, unlike previous and future games that would end up splitting the characters into multiple playable variants (eg. Two Gokus, three Gohans, three Boos are playable in Budokai 3).
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Goku's normal ultimate is the Spirit Bomb. Perform this move with any Super Saiyan transformation, and this becomes the Super Dragon Fist. This particular ultimate is a whole litany of references. On the surface its a homage to how he defeated King Piccolo, but the move as a whole is the same move he used to defeat Hirudegarn in Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon as well as Super 17 with in Dragon Ball GT and the animation of him absorbing the Spirit Bomb for a powerup is taken right out of the climax of Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13!.
    • Kid Goku's Kamehameha effect in 3 is different from most other characters' beams, as it more resembles the original beam's look from the original Dragon Ball.
    • The Saibaman's Self-Destruct is an instant kill on Yamcha and only Yamcha, of course.
    • Gotan was a fusion that Goku considered during the Buu Saga, where he was almost left with no choice but to Potara-fuse with Mr. Satan.
    • 3 has hidden alternate costumes that can be unlocked by putting certain character codes into the Dragon Universe mode; all of these "codes" are actually quotes said by the character in questionnote :
      • Goku with Halo: "Jaana Minna-! Shindara Mata Aouna-!" ("Later everyone! I'll see you when you die!"), said when he returns to Other World after his time on Earth runs out.
      • Future Trunks in Saiyan Armor: "Doumo Sumimasen Omataseshimashita" ("I'm sorry to have kept you waiting"), said when he emerges from the Room of Spirit and Time.
      • Demon King Piccolo: "Gahaha Saikouda!!!- Saikounokibunda!!!" ("Gahaha! This is the best! This feels amazing!"), said after he restores his youth with the Dragon Balls.
  • 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. While Cell's What Ifs play it straight, the difference is he still loses pitifully, and it was All Just a Dream anyway.
  • 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.
  • Potty Emergency: One of Hercule/Mr. Satan's fights in the Legend of Hercule mode in Budokai 1 has Hercule/Mr. Satan face a very strict time limit because he has to use the bathroom badly.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Unlike in the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi games, Hercule/Mr. Satan's attacks cause the enemy to flinch, so you can have him soundly thrash guys like Omega Shenron.
  • Promoted to Playable: Saibaman and Cell Jr. went from unplayable Mooks in the first two games to fully playable characters in the third.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Gokule's Spirit Bomb is bright pink. It's also the strongest ultimate in the game.
  • Regional Bonus: The Japanese version of 2 had extra costumes for some characters (a battle damaged Goku and Piccolo with his weighted gear on) 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.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The HD Collection (containing the original Budokai and Budokai 3) replaced all the music due to the composer plagiarizing much of the music in the original releases.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: The game's AI can't decide whether it wants to be needlessly sadistic who can read all of your inputs before you even press them or constantly make mistakes not even a novice would be caught dead doing.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The North American box art for Budokai 1 and Budokai 3 was this in spades.
  • Self-Harm–Induced Superpower: Captain Ginyu has a special move called "Self-Harm" that boosts his power while damaging himself.
  • 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 it's 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.
    • At the beginning of the Android Saga in the story mode for Budokai 2, Dr. Gero sends out his elite squad of multi-colored Saibamen he calls the "Saiba Rangers"
  • 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.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Little do people know, the "do" in Budokai actually has a long vowel due to the kanji it's used for, so the term in the title can also be spelled as "Budōkai" or "Budoukai" in romaji. Same applies to its sister series, Budoukai/Budōkai Tenkaichi.
  • Super Mode: Super Saiyan transformations aside, Budokai 3 onwards would feature some variation of this to temporary boost the stats of your character.
    • Budokai 3's Hyper Mode is probably the most famous version, since it is required to use your Ultimate Attack or Dragon Rush Attack. It can be activated at any time by pressing L2/LT, but be warned that letting it run out will leave you fatigued and wide open.
    • Infinite World has Aura Burning, which also boosts your abilities but without leaving you fatigued, but doesn't give you access to any other special abilities. Like in Budokai 3, you can trigger it by pressing L2.
    • Shin Budokai has variations of this for each character called Aura Charge, which is done by pressing R then tapping L. Some characters gain a damage boost equal to the amount of Ki they have, others will gain a Melee boost with temporary Super Armor, and some can expend their stored Ki to recover a set amount of health.
    • Burst Limit has Aura Spark, activated by pressing L1/LB when your Ki is at max. Your attack and speed increases, your fatigue gauge will slowly recover, and you can activate your Pursuit Attack that let's you perform a flashy transition attack. What also separates Aura Spark from previous incarnations is that your Ki will not immediately drain upon activation, meaning you can deliver an uber-charged Ultimate Attack if you're quick enough.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Vegeta's above mentioned Majin Vegeta transformation gives you access to Final Explosion, a homage to Vegeta's Heroic Sacrifice. It's either an Instant Win or an Instant Lose for you: If Attack wins, you win with 1 HP. If Defense wins, the other way around.
    • 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 opponent as one of them nears death. It also kills Yamcha instantly without fail.
    • 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. Either way, its one ultimate where getting a double KO becomes very easy.
  • Unlockable Difficulty Levels: In 3, you can unlock additional difficulties by beating the game on Very Hard. The first one is called Z-difficulty, where enemies gain better AI and stats. Beating Z unlocks Z-2, which adds more of the same. And beating Z-2 unlocks the final difficulty, Z-3, where the opponents all have maxed out stats and a near Perfect Play A.I.. Everyone from Raditz to Gotenks will be a nailbiting fight because Computers Are Fast.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • The Japanese V-Jump exclusive Dragon Ball Z 2 V, which contains everything unlocked from the get go, new alternate costumes for Goku (Battle Damaged), Frieza (Kuriza from Neko Majin Z, Majin Frieza and Cooler, with the Frieza's Spaceship capsule turning Kuriza into his final form and Cooler into Meta Cooler), and Cell (Majin Cell), an altered World Tournament stage that includes the V-Jump logo, and an additional story stage where Goku teams up with Tiencha to take down past revived villains. The only downside was that saving was disabled, so you couldn't save your Dragon World progress or any of your character loadouts.
    • The Special Editions of 3 were also this as they included the Japanese voice cast as an alternate option as well as extra costumes for Goku (with an angel halo), Piccolo (King Piccolo), and Future Trunks (battle armor and long hair.) Said costumes had to be unlocked via special passwords in the Dragon Arena mode. These features were later included in the HD version as well.
  • Villain Respect: In Vegeta's What If story in Budokai, despite hearing Yajirobe sneaking up in an effort to slice him from behind, he's not angry and says that he likes the samurai's sneaky nature before offering to join with him.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Again, Cell in Budokai 3. As mentioned above, none of the bosses before him are too much of a challenge.
  • We Can Rule Together: While Vegeta doesn't hesitate to kill Goku and Krillin during his What If storyline in Budokai 1, he notes that he and Gohan are the only two Saiyans left in existencenote  and offers for them to join forces. Gohan understandably refuses, but Vegeta only notes that it's a shame before moving to kill him anyway. He later extends the same offer to Yajirobe of all people, simply because he admires the samurai trying to sneak attack him from behind. Yajirobe refuses, not out of any morality, but because Vegeta killed Nappa when he couldn't fight anymorenote  and feared the same fate happening to him. This proves to be the last straw when Vegeta angrily outlines that he gave Nappa a noble warrior's death, pushing him to a Super Saiyan transformation as he shouts, "HE WAS A SAIYAN!!!"
  • What If?: One of its most popular features is having What If? storylines in all its games:
    • Budokai 1:
      • Vegeta kills the rest of the Dragon Team easily, with only Yajirobe left alive. He offers Yajirobe a place at his side but Yajirobe makes the mistake of saying he doesn't want to end up like Nappa, who Vegeta killed earlier. The mere mention of Nappa angers Vegeta enough that he turns Super Saiyan.
      • Frieza kills Vegeta, Gohan, Piccolo, and even Goku on Namek! And the only damage he gets is a lost tooth! He then gets his wish for immortality and heads for Earth. The End?
      • 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. Afterward he gets annihilated by Tien's Neo Tri-Beam...and it was all a nightmare Perfect Cell was having during the ten day wait for the Cell Games.
    • 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.
    • Some paths in Dragon Universe mode in 3 lead to this, such as one ending path in Yamcha's allowing him to finally beat Vegeta and win back some self respect, or Vegeta finally beating Goku, ending their rivalry and celebrating his long-sought victory.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Broly, Broly, Broly. He's the only villain in Budokai 3 to have his own Dragon Universe campaign and the only movie character to appear in Burst Limit, going as far as to give him an exclusive saga where he goes around beating the crap out of all the Z-Fighters For the Evulz.
  • Word Sequel:
    • Word of God confirm that Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World is Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 4, but they changed the name because it was said that the fourth installment would have a different name.
    • In the United States, the second Shin Budokai game has the subtitle Another Road, but Europe and Japan got the game as simply Shin Budokai 2.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: In Shin Budokai: Another Road, the player can actually avert this by making specific choices in the first three chapters of story mode. If the time machine Trunks needs is destroyed, he instead has Future Gohan and Pikkon brought back for a day to help out. Depending on if the player defeats Dabura and Babidi's puppets, they can prevent Majin Buu from getting released flatout, ending the story rather quickly on a nice, happy note. Otherwise, no matter what Future Trunks does, Majin Buu is released and the only notable difference is if Trunks can survive long enough to do something about it.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dragon Ball Z Budokai 2


Special Beam Cannon

To rid the world of Raditz, Goku allows himself to be hit by Piccolo's attack while holding his evil brother in place.

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Main / ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice

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