With over three decades of history and merchandise, Dragon Ball has naturally wound up with more than a few games under its belt. Some RPGs, most fighters, Dragon Ball is also the rare licensed franchise that actually manages to consistently pump out high-quality titles. From the Famicom to the Nintendo Switch, Dragon Ball has taken gaming by storm with new games almost always in development. For every two games that have been developed successfully though, what has been canceled. We all remember the Dragon Ball games that captured our hearts and memories, but what about the ones that never saw the light of day? Canceled Dragon Ball games are genuinely quite interesting. Whether they be a part of a series, an enhanced port, or an all-new game that simply never managed to take off in early development, you’ll find that most canceled games clearly could have amounted to something. What exactly is up for debate, but there were more than a few interesting ideas left on the drawing board. Some of these canceled games will fill you with regret, clamoring for an experience you will logically never have, while others will make you question what the developers were thinking.
25 CANCELED: The Legacy Of Goku IV
Although Dragon Ball GT was never going to be as popular as Dragon Ball Z, especially in the West, the Dragon Ball craze was still very much in full effect at the end of the Majin Buu saga. Taking into account that both The Legacy of Goku II and Buu’s Fury stood out as the two of the strongest gamfes in the franchise, it only seemed natural for Atari to capitalize on the remainder of the series by adapting Dragon Ball GT into The Legacy of Goku IV. Ultimately, TLoG4 was not meant to be and was instead repurposed into Transformation. Perhaps it was because of Buu’s Fury’s lack of sales in comparison to either The Legacy of Goku I or II, but Transformation effectively prevented fans from getting their DBGT RPG. Realistically, if there’s one format GT could work in, it’s the RPG format. Atari changing The Legacy of Goku IV into an unrelated beat em’ up at the last minute with the exact same staff was a massive mistake that cost them their biggest franchise.
24 BEST: Budokai
The first Budokai will always have a special place in fan’s hearts in large part due to how it handles its story mode. Rather than offering fragmented fights in an arcade styled campaign, Budokai’s story models itself after the anime with an opening, episode previews, and title cards for matches. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Budokai a video game adaptation of Dragon Ball Z up to the Cell saga. Gameplay wise, Budokai stands out from its contemporaries by adding in a level of customization that simply wasn’t found in other fighting games. While characters have their base forms with more than enough moves to be playable, each character’s move set could edited via capsules, allowing fighters to come out all the more unique.
23 BEST: The Legacy Of Goku II
The fact The Legacy of Goku II is as good as it is should be proof that Kami does indeed exist. After the frankly awful original Legacy of Goku, the developers managed to turn things around by addressing every single complaint lobbed at the game in order to create one of be most cohesive RPGs in the entire franchise. Goku became one of six playable characters; the battle system was given a massive overhaul; and the story nearly quadrupled in length, offering a concise retelling of the Cell saga. Not every Dragon Ball game needs to star Goku. The Legacy of Goku II was so good, in fact, it actually went on to be the only Dragon Ball Z game to be developed in the West and then released in Japan. This means Japan got a taste of Bruce Faulconer’s heavily electronic soundtrack in a format that actually suited it: a video game. Honestly, The Legacy of Goku II is a genuine miracle of a video game, proving that a rocky start can absolutely go on to do amazing things.
22 CANCELED: Transformation II
Atari was really expecting Transformation to do well considering Webfoot felt comfortable ending the game with a literal “to be continued,” something none of the Legacy of Goku games had the gall to do. In a way, it makes sense. After all, Transformation was originally The Legacy of Goku IV so of course fans would want to see the series continue! And nothing of value was lost. Unfortunately, Transformation was more of a Legacy of Goku I than it was a Buu’s Fury. As a result, the game underperformed thanks to how radically different it was from its predecessors and it reviewed rather poorly. Transformation II was subsequently canceled and The Legacy of Goku saga came to an abrupt end with no conclusion.
21 BEST: Gekishin Frieza
Released exclusively in Japan for the Famicom, Gekishin Frieza was the third of five Dragon Ball related RPGs for the system, and easily the best of the bunch. Covering the Namek saga from when Gohan heads out to the planet to right before Goku turns Super Saiyan, Gekishin Frieza sets itself in an alternate universe where only Piccolo fell in the battle against the Saiyans. As a result, all the Z-fighters are here to play around and experiment with. Keep in mind, though, that a character losing all their HP actually send them to the Other World. Should they fall early, however, they can actually train with Piccolo and be revived later. It’s basically a “choose your own adventure” version of the Frieza saga. What’s not to love?
20 BEST: Advanced Adventure
Dragon Ball Z gets a lot of love on the game side of things, but what about Dragon Ball? The first third of the series, you’re not going to find many games covering Kid Goku’s escapades which is a shame considering one of the best games in the entire franchise is an OG Dragon Ball game. Starting from the start of the series up to the end of the Demon King Piccolo arc, Advanced Adventure is the Dragon Ball beat em up you never knew you needed. What’s particularly impressive about Advanced Adventure- besides its stellar gameplay, built in Tenkaichi Budokai fighting mode, and the ability to play as almost every single original Dragon Ball character- is the fact that it actually adapts the story rather faithfully. Despite being an action game first and foremost, dialogue is ripped right out of the manga, making the journey feel as authentic as possible.
19 CANCELED: The Red Ribbon Army Saga
The Red Ribbon Army Saga is an interesting case of a canceled game in that there’s virtually no information pertaining to its existence online, but just enough where we can deduce that such a game did indeed exist at some point. The Dragon Ball Z website previously had a description for the game which is now lost to time and GameFAQs maintains their page for the title, proving that it was in development at some point. There's no such thing as too many OG Dragon Ball games. Given how close in proximity it would have released to Advanced Adventure, it likely would not have been a beat em up. The theory at the time was that The Red Ribbon Army Saga would have been a Dragon Ball styled action RPG in the vein of The Legacy of Goku covering the start of the series up to the end of the Red Ribbon Army arc. Unfortunately, the game was quietly cancelled before any information could be made public.
18 BEST: Xenoverse 2
Xenoverse 2 is every Dragon Ball fanboy’s dream game come to life. You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who watched the series growing up who didn’t want to be a Super Saiyan at some point. Thankfully, Xenoverse 2 allows fans to do just that. A hybrid fighting game-MMORPG, X2 lets you insert yourself through the events of the entire franchise. What’s most interesting about Xenoverse 2 is the fact that it actually expands the series’ lore, at least in the extended universe sense. Rather than just placing you into DBZ’s action, Xenoverse 2 follows the Time Patrollers, a group of time travelers who work to keep the timelines in check. In a way, Xenoverse 2 does more for the franchise’s lore than Super!
17 BEST: Legendary Super Warriors
The only non-Dragon Ball fighting game that actually covers all of DBZ from start to finish, Legendary Super Warriors is the card-based RPG you never knew you needed. Don’t let its reliance on cards turn you off, though. It’s easily one of the best entries in the series. Every playable character can level up, allowing you to modify their stats, and the countless cards you get make it easy to customize a deck wholly unique to your play style. The greatest card game you've never played. It is worth noting that Legendary Super Warriors is probably one of the hardest games in the entire franchise, but it’s worth it if only to experience all of Dragon Ball Z in one concise format. Plus, sometimes you just need a bit of challenge in life. With a new game plus that allows you to tackle the story with any character you want, Legendary Super Warriors stands out thanks to its unique gameplay and hours upon hours of replay value.
16 CANCELED: Motion Controlled Final Bout
Revealed as a tech demo of sorts at a conference, it seems the developers behind Final Bout were planning on adding motion controls to it at some point back in the late 90s. Now, you probably know Final Bout as one of the worst fighting games in the franchise so the idea of a motion-controlled version might actually be intriguing. After all, we’re talking full body motions control, and not just hand movements like the Kinect game. Obviously, the concept for a motion-controlled Final Bout never left the tech demo stage, but the idea for a motion-controlled Dragon Ball didn’t end there. It’s entirely possible this concept was retooled for the first person arcade simulator Dragon Ball V.R.V.S. V.R.V.S. is more hand based like Kinect and only features four playable characters, but it’s likely this was what was realistically commercially possible back then.
15 BEST: Super Butoden 2
Arguably the Super Famicom’s defining Dragon Ball game, Super Butoden 2 is that rare piece of Dragon Ball media that takes place in that very brief period of the franchise between the end of the Cell Games where Gohan became the main character and the early portions of the Majin Buu arc before Goku ever came back into the picture. As a result, Goku is little more than a secret character and Gohan takes center stage. Although Gohan is the protagonist, the story mode can actually be played from Piccolo’s, Future Trunks’, and even Vegeta’s perspective. Through dialogue, players can branch off the story, even transitioning into the Bojack and Broly movies. It’s a fascinating game with a great battle system and even better story. Every fan owes it to themselves to play Super Butoden 2.
14 BEST: Buu’s Fury
Fans will debate for days over whether or not The Legacy of Goku II or Buu’s Fury is the superior Dragon Ball Z RPG, but the fact of the matter is that they’re both exemplary examples of the genre within the fandom. Where The Legacy of Goku II offers a more challenging and skill-based experience, Buu’s Fury feels like a proper, fleshed out action RPG in every sense. It's genuinely amazing just how well The Legacy of Goku trilogy managed to end. Characters can now equip items to better their abilities, stats can be fully distributed between the five playable Saiyans, and there’s even a decent post-game with side content to keep you entertained once the journey’s over. Buu’s Fury is a fantastic retelling of the Buu arc and while it didn’t get a Japanese release like The Legacy of Goku II did, it certainly deserved it.
13 CANCELED: 3D Legacy Of Goku Remake
In 2016, former remnants of Webfoot Technologies got fans of The Legacy of Goku trilogy worked up over nothing when a former employee whipped up a proof concept for a Legacy of Goku 3D remake for the Nintendo 3DS that he had planned on pitching to Namco Bandai. The idea was to pitch the game, show Bandai the fan reception, and get the game greenlit. As expected, the plan didn’t work out. For starters, it seems unlikely Namco Bandai would ever let the Dragon Ball IP slip out of their hands ever again given how much of a merchandising juggernaut it is. More importantly, the actual proof of concept looks fairly bland and more at home in the early 2000s than the mid-2010s.
12 BEST: Super
Before there was Dragon Ball Super, there was Super Dragon Ball Z. What was originally the only traditional fighting game in the series before Fighterz, Super DBZ still stands out in large part due to its high skill ceiling and skill floor. This is not a game just anyone can pick up and play. It genuinely demands an understanding of fighting games. Arguably the better version of Super. That said, putting the time into Super DBZ pays off in spades. The combat, while not particularly fast paced, it airtight, making for some legitimately strategic fights. Matches push you to the mettle and demand you play at your absolute best. Plus, Super DBZ has a funky roster with Z-Sword Gohan, Chichi, and Demon King Piccolo all acting as playable characters.
11 BEST: Burst Limit
What if Budokai wasn’t Budokai? This may seem like an utterly moronic question, but it does have quite the poignant answer. If Budokai wasn’t Budokai, it would Burst Limit. A soft reboot of sorts of the Budokai sub-series, Burst Limit takes the first game’s foundation and builds off it. Covering the exact same story mode, with an equally cinematic approach, BL was Budokai for the PS3’s era. As a game, Burst Limit advances pretty much all of Budokai’s gameplay to an apex. BL is mechanically the best of the Budokai games. Sadly, customization is severely neutered and the roster is rather small given the material it covers, but Burst Limit is nonetheless a fantastic foundation to the franchise and a wonderful start to a new series. Or at least it should have been.
10 CANCELED: Burst Limit 2
Burst Limit 2 is the Budokai 2 reboot that never was. In the same way, Burst Limit took Budokai’s format and effectively improved upon it (albeit with weaker customization,) fans expected Burst Limit 2 to come out the next year in order to iron out the kinks and refine the Burst Limit experience. For all intents and purposes, this was something that was bound to happen… until it didn’t. Burst Limit 2 would have been the perfect version of Budokai 2 that didn't bother with a Mario Party story mode. For whatever reason, Burst Limit ended up being a one-off title. Perhaps fans were just not ready for more Budokai at this point. It’s a shame, honestly. Burst Limit 2 likely would have covered the entire series instead of ending at Cell, and the customization surely would have been perfected. Burst Limit 2 could have genuinely ended up the best game in the series with the foundation BL1 left behind.
9 BEST: Hyper Dimension
Where Super Butoden 2 is easily the most influential and important of the Super Famicom Dragon Ball Z games, Hyper Dimension is inarguably the best of the bunch. While it’s rather light on the story, covering only the most important fights in the series (and only from the end of the Frieza fight to the battle with Kid Buu,) Hyper Dimension gets by purely on gameplay. As a Super Famicom game, it can be easy to want to dismiss Hyper Dimension. After all, why would a Dragon Ball Z game for the SNES actually be mechanically competent? Well, this one is. Mixing health and Ki into one singular bar, damaging your foe often means damaging yourself. As a result, Hyper Dimension leads to some extremely high level play where strategy plays a role at all times. Not something you can get from every DBZ game.
8 BEST: The Legendary Super Saiyan
At the height of the Super Nintendo emulation scene, it wouldn’t be unusual to see a little titled called Dragon Ball Z - The Legendary Super Saiyan topping the most popular rom charts. A card based RPG much in the same vein as Gekishin Frieza, The Legendary Super Saiyan was basically the Famicom’s concept for the series brought to life in its fullest for a 18 bit age. Rather than just focusing on one arc, The Legendary Super Saiyan adapts both the Saiyan and Frieza sagas while maintaining the CYOA elements. Characters cen perish in battle permanently at any time, Ginyu can actually steal someone’s body for the rest of the game, and there’s even a secret boss fight with SSJ Vegeta should players trigger Super Saiyan for Goku at the end of the game.
7 CANCELED: Dragon Ball Online
Dragon Ball Online is the rare canceled video game that actually existed in a playable format for a time before being canceled. Of course, that didn’t mean you played it. Honestly, unless you were in Asia a few weeks back, you almost certainly did not play it. An MMORPG that acted as a sequel to the original story long before Super, Online was in many ways a prototype to Xenoverse. Online was the best canon sequel fans had for years. The story followed mostly the same beats, even involving the Time Patrollers, and the RPG elements between the two games are strikingly similar. Unfortunately, before Online could finish its plot or even leave Asia, all the servers were pulled and the game was left in a perpetual limbo. Fans have attempted to bring the game back via private servers, but it will never truly be the same.
6 BEST: Budokai Tenkaichi 2
Where Budokai Tenkaichi 3 has a roster capable of allowing you to relive almost every single one of the series’ major battles, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 has a story mode so complete you won’t need to go out of your way to experience Dragon Ball in its purest form. Starting from the beginning of Dragon Ball Z and ending with an abridged version of GT, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is the REAL ultimate Dragon Ball simulator. While Budokai Tenkaichi 2 doesn’t have online like Budokai Tenkaichi 3 does, it doesn’t need it. Like Budokai 3 before it, customized characters can be shared online with unique passwords. While customization isn’t as in-depth as the Budokai series, the Potara system does work as a great, creative alternative designed around stat building more than moveset editing.
5 BEST: Budokai 3
Budokai 3 is a best of both worlds situation where the game itself manages to be in equal parts an exceptional fighter and a fantastic depiction of Dragon Ball at its very best. Covering the events of Dragon Ball Z from roughly a dozen different perspectives, Budokai 3 is the game that gives the entire cast to shine. Dragon Universe is the most comprehensive story mode in the franchise. In the Dragon Universe mode, players can experience an entire character’s arc throughout DBZ, sometimes even leaving them off on cliffhanger endings to be resolved by another character’s story. It’s a bizarre approach to the series, but it’s one that works quite well, especially since each story allows characters to level up and some even include post-games with unlockable, secret content.
4 CANCELED: Budokai 3 GameCube Port
Considering both Budokai and Budokai 2 found themselves much better ports (at least in the case of the former) on the GameCube after their initial PlayStation 2 releases, it was only natural that Budokai 3 would likewise find itself on the GameCube as well. Unfortunately, given the GameCube’s rather abrupt end of third party support, a Budokai 3 port never came. It really is a shame all things considered. While neither Budokai port added extra content to their respective games, the titles themselves looked far slicker and even ran better. At this point in time, the GameCube was still capable of running software with much more ease than the PS2. It’s no doubt Budokai 3 would have found similar success had the GameCube maintained its popularity with developers.
3 BEST: FighterZ
Dragon Ball FighterZ is the fighting game fans have been waiting for since the inception of the franchise. A legitimate fighting game with graphics emulated after the anime and animations specifically based off of panels from the manga, Fighterz is the closest a video game has ever come to capturing what it means to feel like Dragon Ball. Fighterz brings the manga to life in a way not even the anime could. FighterZ may not be a Dragon Ball simulator in the vein of the Tenkaichi sub-series, but it isn’t trying to be. Rather, it strives to be equal parts an incredible fighting game and incredible Dragon Ball game. With a carefully selected roster, battles feel like a “greatest hits” take on the series with only the very best character making the cut; the action is chaotically fast, and the skill ceiling is as high as the skill floor is low. It’s a game designed for anyone and everyone.
2 BEST: Attack Of The Saiyans
If FighterZ is the best Dragon Ball fighting game, Attack of the Saiyans is the best Dragon Ball RPG. Released for the Nintendo DS near the end of its life cycle, Attack of the Saiyans was a turn-based JRPG that adapted the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai and Saiyan arcs into one compact role-playing game. While other entries in the series have served as adaptations, AotS is the one game to adapt so well, you could actually play it instead of reading or watching the series. From the lines of dialogue to how scenes are framed, Attack of the Saiyans is a 1:1 adaptation with some filler thrown in to lengthen the game. It’s so faithful, in fact, that a whole series of games stylized like it would honestly act as a legitimate alternative to the franchise. It certainly helps that AotS is incredibly fun to play with a Paper Mario style battle system and full stat customization for every character. Attack of the Saiyans is what every non-fighting game in the series should strive to be.
1 CANCELED: Attack Of The Saiyans Sequel
The world is genuinely a worse place because Attack of the Saiyans’ sequel will never come to light. Ending on a cliffhanger related to the Frieza arc, it can be presumed the next game would simply cover anything and everything Namek related from the flight there to Goku’s final battle with the tyrant. Unfortunately, the stars simply cannot align for such a game to come to life. The greatest Dragon Ball game that never was or will be. For starters, Attack of the Saiyans was developed by Monolith, the very same dev team in charge of Xenoblade Chronicles, now one of Nintendo’s biggest IP; secondly, Attack of the Saiyans was a DS game and the system is long out of production with the 3DS out the door as well; and lastly, Attack of the Saiyans was a Dragon Ball Kai game, specifically designed to promote that anime. With Kai over, both DS systems effectively out of commission, and Monolith working on bigger projects, Attack of Frieza will never see the light of day.