Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai

If you clicked the link to this article, odds are you're a devotee of the Dragon Ball Z games and already plan to buy Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai no matter what we say. If you're not, though, then this might be the game that gets you hooked.

Shin Budokai brings the series' fast-paced, button-mashing action to the PSP's small screen, and little seems to have been lost in the translation. The battles are still fierce, as glowing supermen pummel each other with rapid-fire kicks and mammoth fireballs that dwarf even their gargantuan hairstyles. Each character can fly, use teleport attacks and change into a super-powered form (like the blond-haired "super saiyan" versions of the main characters). And like in previous Budokais, pulling off devastating special attacks is quick and easy.

The sharp, cel-shaded graphics look remarkably close to the game's console big brothers, and they animate so smoothly that it's not a stretch to call this one of the PSP's best-looking games. On the other hand, the ™'s and ®'s in the character names - even next to their health bars - are just hideous.

Shin Budokai boasts five different game modes, including a Network mode that lets two players duke it out over a direct wireless connection. Those playing alone will likely get the most bang out of the Dragon Road mode, a story-based series of fights based on the upcoming Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn movie. Unfortunately, the "story" between fights appears to be just an endless series of long, often nonsensical text conversations between unchanging character portraits. If you're a hardcore fan aching to know the movie's plot, this probably won't bother you. If you're not, then you can skip these bits and go straight to the brawling.

When it hits stores on Tuesday, Shin Budokai will feature 18 different fighters, including Pikkon the dead alien and Janemba the demon (who both appear for the first time in a Budokai game). Like the previous Budokai games, this won't appeal much to gamers who insist on depth or complexity, but having a good-looking, easy-to-play fighter on a handheld has definite appeal.

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.