There are a lot of video games for the Dragon Ball Z series and it’s understandable why. As one of the most popular animes across the globe, there’s a lot of money to be had in giving fans the ability to fight as one of the many iconic and legendary characters in the series.
There have been many fighting games based on the Dragon Ball Z series and each has tried to do things their own way. Fortunately, they’ve all held to the same basic standard that made the series popular, strong fighters going head to head for the thrill of the challenge and to become stronger, and happening to save the universe while they were at it.
A clever play on the Dragon Ball Z name, Dragon Ball Xenoverse was Bandai Namco’s attempt to create a fighting MMO based on the Dragon Ball Z universe, and they did a great job. Players create customizable characters that become legendary heroes who aid Future Trunks and the Time Patrol in correcting corrupted timelines.
It was a great feeling for players to be at the center of the game’s universe and encounter what-if scenarios that felt logical. It was also cool having villains be your mentors to teach you special moves. It’s one major flaw was the heavy, heavy grind to progress, but if you could bear it you had a great game.
Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit was a well-built fighting game that rewarded players for diving deep into the mechanics and each character felt unique in their own fighting moves and styles. The graphics were good for its time and it had some of the best music for fights.
The reason it doesn’t rank higher is there wasn’t much game to be had. The story could be finished in a few hours, there was no Buu Saga, no trophies, no achievements, no what-if scenarios, nothing for replay value. It was a fantastic multiplayer game held down by a cardboard cutout singleplayer mode.
When the Dragon Ball Super series released, fans were anxious to have a chance to play as the iconic characters. Surprisingly, the recent Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden game stuck to the Dragon Ball Z storyline and made the newer characters unlockable, rather than follow the new Super storyline. Even more incredible is the introduction of Dragon Ball GT plot elements such as the boss Omega Shenron.
It’s a strange move to ignore new plot in favor of controversial plot, but it was well done. Perhaps the best feature was playing the story mode as one of the major villains like Broly.
Featuring one of the best story modes out there, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 had easy to learn combat mechanics that became deeper the more the player mastered them. Having five teammates was a nice touch and players felt like they were in the anime, rather than a video game.
One glaring omission was the lack of a level up feature, the characters were as strong in the first fight as they were in the last. Leveling was something becoming a standard in the Dragon Ball Z video games and felt like a step backward.
Dragon Ball Z: Raging Blast 2 was a great game that took the series in a fun direction. The Raging Soul mechanic was both powerful and risky, the story mode... sorry, Galaxy Mode, was well written and had great what-if scenarios.
What made the game great were challenging boss battles that truly made you feel like a hero, or villain if that’s who you chose, the game wasn’t going to hold your hand and you had to earn those victories.
While the game is dated having come out in 2005, it deserves a spot on the list for one of the more interesting what-if story modes in Dragon Ball Z gaming. The Story Mode has the player choose one of 15 characters to fight through various plot lines and what-if scenarios.
What makes this game stand out is that the player's actions can alter these scenarios and events. This can lead to interesting plot paths such as Goku dying before ever fighting Cell or Piccolo obtaining the powers of Majin in the Buu saga. It was the first game to come close to making your actions and failures matter in terms of the story being told.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 took everything the first game did and improved upon it while shedding away anything that made it bad. The end result was a very polished game that felt somewhere between an expansion and a sequel.
The story was pretty much the same, but with added characters and plot lines. The grind was still there, but felt much more fair. They even included the awesome ability to port over your character and progress from the first game to the second so you weren’t starting from scratch again. It was a great improvement on the series.
This game earns the number three spot for having a massive roster including practically any character you can think of from the Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT series and the spin-off movies. We’re talking fan favorites like Hercule Satan down to Cui, one of Frieza’s henchmen, and all of them are unlocked and available to play as soon as you start the game.
The gameplay was standard and the story was subpar, but it was hard to care when you could take your enemies down as Bulma or Dr. Wheelo.
As fun as the more random characters were in the series, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 was proof that having a solid cast of heavy hitters, and a few fan favorites, while focusing on better gameplay was more important.
With customizable characters, good balance between characters, and a solid fighting system this was easily one of the best fighting games ever made for Dragonball Z. Not to mention the hilarious plot twist when Cell accidentally absorbs Krillin during his own evil story mode.
A much-needed breath of fresh air for the Dragon Ball Z video games, Dragon Ball FighterZ took a lot of what made the previous games popular and capitalized on it, while striking out and doing it’s own thing. It has all the familiar characters, included new entries from the Dragon Ball Super series like the assassin Hit and original characters unique to the game like Android 21.
That’s right, unlike other games that endlessly explore what-if scenarios, which this game does to some extent, Dragon Ball FighterZ creates an entirely new story with Dr. Gero’s previously unknown androids becoming the heroes and villains in the story. Dragon Ball FighterZ represents the best modern fighting games has to offer and bold storytelling.