It’s one of the biggest Manga series in the world. Its success has spawned an equally successful Anime series and many games in turn. The Dragon Ball series has been around for decades, first gaining fame in Japan and eventually making its way across to North America and Europe. Even if you’re not a fan of Anime, you’ve probably seen some Dragon Ball episodes or played at least one of the many games with your friends. It’s just that popular. So how many Dragon Ball games are there? Well there are a bunch, spawning across multiple consoles throughout the years. The games aren’t just limited to fighters either, as many different action and RPG Dragon Ball games have come out over the years.
But what makes a good Dragon Ball game? Despite the hoards of games put out there, a lot of them either haven’t aged well or just weren’t that great to begin with. A good DBZ game should be entertaining; it shouldn’t get stale after a few hours or be too frustrating to play. It should also either offer something new or improve upon something that’s already been established in previous games. Games that are dull or just have really bad controls are sure to get a mention here too. But don’t expect us to have anything good to say about them. Here are the 8 best and 7 worst Dragon Ball Z games.
15 Best: Super Dragon Ball Z
We’ll start off our list with one of many Dragon Ball fighters. Seeing as the Dragon Ball manga focuses mostly on martial arts, you can bet that the majority of its video game adoptions follow suit. Though there are a whole ton of Dragon Ball fighters out there, only a handful can really be considered good. So let’s start with Super Dragon Ball Z. Unlike the popular Budokai and Tenkaichi games, Super Dragon Ball Z adopted more traditional fighting mechanics that you’d see in classic fighting games. The game enticed players to get in closer and rely on actual fighting skills, rather than just lobbing Ki and special attacks left and right. While it wasn’t a Dragon Ball game in the traditional sense, it was a nice change of pace that turned out to be a pretty competent fighter.
14 Worst: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai
The Budokai series are some of the most celebrated Dragon Ball fighters out there. Of course, the gold standard in this is Budokai 3, which we’ll get to in a while. Other than that, you’ve got the first two games which kind of fall through the cracks. While Budokai 2 is a decent enough game, it’s the first Budokai that’s got the displeasure of being the first 'bad' game on our list. Unlike the third instalment, Budokai hasn’t aged very well at all. The controls are janky and the gameplay and fighting are awkward and often show their age when you play it. It might’ve been a decent game in its time, but its flaws are pretty clear to us now.
13 Best: Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure
While the vast majority of Dragon Ball games have been fighters, that’s not all that the series is limited to. Though based around martial arts, Dragon Ball is a pretty flexible medium. Here we look at 2006’s Dragon Ball: Adventure as an example of a great dragon Ball non-fighting game. The side-scroller beat’em-up was an entertaining journey retelling the earlier sequences within the Dragon Ball story. The player can participate in three distinct level designs, including standard platform levels, above ground levels on the Nimbus and of course, one-on-one fights – a staple of the Dragon Ball universe. This game came out on the Game Boy Advanced and is one of the best Dragon Ball handhelds you’ll get your hands on.
12 Worst: Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi
To start this off, let’s just say the Ultimate Tenkaichi had a ton of promise coming out the gate. It had a free-roam style story mode that resembled Budokai 3 and had some great environmental effects play out after dishing out special attacks. It even had “Hero Mode” which allowed players to create their own customizable character. But the biggest flaw with this game is its repetitiveness. A lot of Ultimate Tenkaichi is based off of luck and feels more like a game of rock, paper, scissors than an actual fighter. Because of this, the game was pretty much boiled down to quick time events and button mashing. Maybe not that bad for something released in the early 2000s, but for a game released in 2011, fans were definitely expecting more.
11 Best: Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku 2
Here we’ve got yet another handheld game and another good example of a great non-fighter turning out to be a quality game. A follow up to the first Legacy of Goku game, LoG 2 was a much more polished title and was met with acclaim from critics and fans alike. This time focusing on the Cell Saga, LoG 2 picks up from when Future Trunks makes his first appearance all the way to the final moments of the Cell Games. This action-RPG learned from the mistakes of its predecessor and was a much more coherent game because of it, fixing some of the combat issues from the first game. Speaking of the first game, let’s look at it a little closer.
10 Worst: Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku
Unlike its successor, Legacy of Goku splits fans right down the middle. Some think it’s a decent game while other just hate it. Well, let’s look into that. While the second Legacy of Goku game allowed players to control a slightly larger roster of characters, Legacy of Goku focused on Goku and Goku alone. Not that that’s a bad thing, but perhaps a little bit of variety would’ve saved the game from its glaring flaw. It’s just boring after a while. The game starts off slow, so you never really get pulled in right away and, by the time, things start picking up, you’re already used to everything the game’s bound to throw at you over the next several hours. It’s that bad.
9 Best: Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans
Here we’ve got ourselves another handheld game that ended up being a fantastic addition for fans of the series. Attack of the Saiyans was made by Monolith Soft, the same people who made Xenosaga and Xenobalde. So it’s not too surprising to see that this title turned out to be great. This one’s another action-RPG that took advantage of Dragon Ball’s heavy fighting elements. It retold both the Piccolo Jr. Saga and the Saiyan Saga. Beacuse of that, the roster of playable characters wasn’t as large as it could’ve been. But it was a great, fun game nonetheless. A sequel never came to fruition which is a shame for those of us who enjoyed the gameplay and wanted to experience more with an extended cast of characters.
8 Worst: Dragon Ball Z: Sagas
At first, this doesn’t seem like that bad of a game. Sagas was released for the PS2, GameCube and Xbox back in 2005. The game went from the Saiyan saga to the end of the Cell Saga, allowing people to go around environments in an action-adventure setting complete with upgrades and item collecting. The gameplay revolved around melee, combo and Ki attacks. Players would cycle through those three main phases while exploring the map, fighting off grunts and looking for items. The problem is, while it was pretty fun at first, the gameplay quickly got stale and the limited nature of the game soon became more and more apparent as you progressed through the story. Though it did let you play as some cool characters, Sagas was a dud.
7 Best: Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2
The Raging Blast series is one of the better contemporary DBZ games out there and actually make a case for themselves be one of the better DBZ series period. They’re traditional Dragon Ball games in the sense that they’re fighting games and those have been some of the most popular and successful Dragon Ball games out there. While both are great, we have to give the edge to Raging Blast 2 as it had the opportunity to expand and correct its predecessor’s mistakes. Destructible environments along with “Pursuit Attacks,” which allowed the players to initiate various combos, kept the gameplay enjoyable and didn’t drag itself through the same repetitiveness the majority of the bad games on this list have.
6 Worst: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z
This next entry is another action-RPG that has a lot in common with another game on our list. Battle of Z shares a similar combat system to Sagas and that should give you just about all the insight into how bad this game is. The fighting in the game revolves around four different battle types, Melee, Ki, Support and Interference. That’s basically just a way of organizing punches from Ki blasts to things like fighting poses and Solar Flare. All in all, the game was pretty dull. It offered nothing new to the fan base and instead recycled tired old mechanics and ideas that had already failed to go over once. The less we hear about this game, the better.
5 Best: Dragon Ball Xenoverse
The Xenoverse games are still relatively new and, like every game on this list, they aren’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean it’s so flawed that it hurts the gameplay to any extent. All in all, the first Xenoverse was a much needed addition to a dwindling franchise. The game allowed players to create their own characters – a highly sought after feature for fans. Aside from that, players could customize their character’s appearance and fighting style based off of different heroes and villains in the Dragon Ball lore. The move sets and special attacks used were also customizable and plenty was offered as unlockable content via the plethora of challenges and quests to be found in the game. Like we said before, it wasn’t without its flaws but it was definitely a Godsend for a lot of DBZ fans.
4 Worst: Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu
We’ve looked at a lot of great handheld Dragon Ball games, but now let’s take a look at one of the worst. First off, let’s just put it out there that some games are harder to pull off on handhelds compared to consoles. Obviously the graphics won’t have aged well, so we’re not going to factor that in here. Instead, let’s examine something more important to the game itself, the gameplay. The game resembles the Tekken series and due to that, combos are somewhat more challenging to pull off. That’s all well and good, but that spike in difficulty isn’t necessarily due to any lack of skill. The gameplay is clunky and makes executing even the most rudimentary combos difficult. So you could imagine how hard it would be to pull off some of the more complex stuff.
3 Best: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3
The Budokai Tenkaichi series are some of the most popular and well received DBZ games out there. The third instalment especially, making it a rare find nowadays that would cost you a pretty penny should you want it. There’s a ton of debate over which is better, Budokai 3 or Budokai Tenkaichi 3. Frankly, they’re both fantastic game with solid gameplay that make for an enjoyable experience true to the manga and anime. The visuals are great and the story mode is one of the best you’ll find in a Dragon Ball game. But if there’s one area in which Budokai Tenkaichi shines, it’s its roster of characters. Featuring a whopping 161 playable characters, this game will have you coming back for more every time – because chances are you won’t unlock everything.
2 Worst: Dragon Ball Z For Kinect
Everything on the Kinect sucked, so this game never really got a chance. We’ve talked about various non-fighting DBZ games that have gone over well in the past, but this motion control game isn't one of them. This game fails on just about every fundamental level. The fighting does not go well with the Kinect interface. As cool as the idea must’ve sounded at first, motion controls just don’t work for fighting games. The player must punch, block and use special attacks by performing a series of movements in front of the Kinect. The problem with that is there’s no controller; everything’s automated so that the camera follows the AI around, making the fighting choppy and tiresome after a short while.
1 Best: Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3
Well we’ve made it to the end of our list. We’ve looked at a lot of games, good and bad, all on different platforms encompassing various genres. But the best of the best is right here. It might not be too much of a surprise to Dragon Ball fans to see this game a top our list. We’ve touched up on the Budokai series, but ultimately, when it comes to Dragon Ball Z games, this is the one everyone comes back to. It might have a considerably smaller roster compared to Budokai Tenkaichi 3, but its roster is much more balanced. It introduced a number of fan favorite features such as skill customization, transformations and beam struggles. All in all this is hands down the best Dragon Ball z game you’ll ever play.