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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 review

More expansion than a true franchise extension, but fans won't object


  • Roughly 160 playable fighters
  • Sharp cel-shaded characters
  • Endless battles across modes


  • Still rather repetitive
  • Characters all play similarly
  • Lack of online play on PS2

Talk about truth in advertising- check out the slogan adorning the print campaign for Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3: "Introducing, among other things, some people you haven't had a chance to punch in the face yet."

That's the long and short of it in the third iteration of the Budokai Tenkaichi fighting franchise, and the sixth such title based on the immensely popular Dragon Ball Z anime series to bear the Budokai brand on the PlayStation 2. As is often the case with yearly, numbered iterations in any franchise, Budokai Tenkaichi 3 doesn't deviate significantly from its immediate predecessor, simply adding onto the formula with more playable characters (up from 130 in BT2 to about 160 in total), stages, and ways to duke it out than ever before.

But on the battlefield, casual observers will wonder if anything has changed at all. Like last year's game, Budokai Tenkaichi 3 strikes a curious balance between moderate depth (in the form of character customization and transformations) and mind-numbing repetition. Sure, the grunting, pointy-haired fighters can hover freely around the massive, vertical worlds and pull off a wide variety of spectacular moves, but the most effective plan of attack typically revolves around endless button-mashing and 70-hit combos. Despite the repetition, Budokai Tenkaichi 3 admirably represents the chaos of the source material, even if that sometimes makes it feel like you're going through the motions.

More Info

DescriptionThis twitchy fighting game is more streamlined (and more mentally demanding) than Budokai Tenkaichi 2, but we can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Franchise nameDragon Ball
UK franchise nameDragon Ball Z
PlatformPS2, Wii
US censor ratingTeen
Release date13 November 2007 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)