Jeremy Jastrzab
20 Jul, 2007

Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai 2 Review

PSP Review | Another year, another DBZ game.
Just like the EA Sports range, Dragon Ball Z games, in particular the Budokai range, have taken to having yearly releases. Since the original release of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai on the PS2 in 2002, we’ve seen new incarnations yearly, with Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 set for release later this year. The Budokai series, while questionable at times, the games are probably the most solid of all the Dragon Ball games. The PSP jumped the bandwagon quite late with last year’s decent Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai and just like the sun rising tomorrow, a year later we have a sequel.

Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai 2, suffixed with Another Road in the US, is very similar to last year’s game but it has added a few things. The main change is in the story. While past Dragon Ball Z games have merely fiddled with the main story line, Another Road takes a slightly different approach. You play as Future Trunks, in a timeline where he’s already gone back in time, beaten all the baddies there and come back to give things a final clean up. Upon helping to rebuild the future, the Tenkaichi tournament is back up and running and Trunks enters. When he enters, the whole fiasco involving the revival of Boo happens to take place, and Trunks must now fight them off.

At least it still looks good, for the most part.

At least it still looks good, for the most part.
Since he can’t tackle the situation on his own, he goes back to the past to get Goku and co. to come to his time and help with the fight (in an upgraded time machine that fits many people). While somewhat new, the story is still relatively simple and adds a few things that may seem odd. For example, in order to drag out some stages, you’re set to fight against “puppets” that resemble Z fighters that are being controlled by Babidi. Then again, it’s a (barely) plausible excuse to be fighting against Cell and Frieza in the future. A few GT tidbits manage to slip in as well. The story is again driven a series of talking heads and you can pick and choose your paths, depending on whether you want to race through or see everything.

Through out the story mode, you have a bit of a strategy element added into the stages. Basically, you’re placed into the stage and are required to fly around while killing off enemies. There is no shortage of enemies, but you have senzu beans that give you “lives” and help revive comrades that you might have with you. Other than killing enemies, you need to protect cities that are being attacked and complete random objectives, such as “defeat Dabura in less than 60 seconds” or “don’t allow cities to drop below 40%”. If a city has been damaged, you can stand next to it and watch it be restored, as your health is boosted as well. It’s an element that has been seen in the second and third Budokai games on the PS2, and apart from the fact that its ugly, works well.

Outside of the story mode, you have an Arcade mode and Z-Trail mode for single players, as well as ad-hoc multiplayer. The Arcade mode is just like any traditional arcade mode, which may be a tad long for a handheld experience but a spare half an hour should get most of it done. The Z-Trail has three separate modes: Survival, Time Attack and Challenge. The first two are self-explanatory but the Challenge mode is a nice diversion. With challenges such as beating the opponent with lower health or cause X amount of damage, it provides variety where the story mode doesn’t. Not forgetting to mention, there are fifty of these challenges, so they might take you some time and experimenting. Ad-hoc multiplayer is the minimum that we’d expect and it works fine, though anyone wanting online play will have to wait for the Wii edition of Budokai Tenkaichi 3.

Brolly is back, but Janemba seems to be missing...

Brolly is back, but Janemba seems to be missing...
As mentioned, the battle system is very similar to the one in the previous Shin Budokai, which in turn is very similar to the one in Budokai 3. There have been a few subtle move additions and changes and the camera is more dynamic. It isn’t strictly stuck at the traditional angle. Instead it will follow your character and is at an angle that resembles the Budokai Tenkaichi camera. Still, the game remains a somewhat traditional fighter. The biggest change to the system has been the addition of booster cards. Through out the game you’ll be able to buy and find booster cards that can be used to customize the stats of your character. For example, boosters can range from level 1 to level 9 and will boost the specific stat by that level. Each character will eventually have nine card slots but often they’ll need unlocking. The system works really well and can make a reasonable difference to how the game is played.

The fighting engine itself is one of the better ones on the PSP, simply because it doesn’t explicitly depend on complex inputs that otherwise would not be well facilitated on the system - as seen in games such as Street Fighter on the PSP. However, it does make it rather simple. Which would’ve been fine if the characters had some reasonable differentiation between one another. Sure, the roster has been increased from 18 to 24, but the same issue of sameness rears its head, where most characters are almost identical. Most players are likely to be vets of DBZ games, so its likely that they’ve gotten around this issue or moved on entirely. However, neither the game nor the manual does a good job of explaining the intricacies of the fighting system so anyone who is just starting off will end up being disadvantaged.

So as it stands, you have a game with a story mode that will likely take around eight to ten hours to complete, depending on how dedicated they are to completing the story 100%. Outside of this, you’ve got the other modes, which are reasonably substantial and options to buy in-game items that will help customise your game and profile within the game. So long as fans of DBZ aren’t expecting the game to be revolutionized in anyway, they’re likely to be totally appeased by the experience. For a simple game, it would’ve been fine for more casual fans that are looking for a simple fighting game, had some of the intricacies been explained better.

Fans will love some of the in-game art.

Fans will love some of the in-game art.
Graphically, the game is virtually identical to last year, bar the camera. So in battle, the graphics are incredibly impressive and close to their console counterparts. No manner of the spark and over-the-top action has been spared from the game. It definitely ranks as one of the more impressive PSP spectacles. However, the new additions of the overworld are in very low detail 3-D and come off as very ugly and off-putting. In terms of the audio, the voice work is, again, limited but used in the more important parts. Thankfully, there is the option of having either English or Japanese voices. The sound effects are somewhat samey, though appropriate and the music is fairly well composed even though it isn’t quite as varied as it probably could be.

In reality, there really isn’t enough added into Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai 2 – Another Road for it to be considered a sequel. Furthermore, despite the small changes, the game is very similar to what we played last year. It’s not bad, it’s just that you’ll be disappointed if you expected anything radically different. Still, as far as PSP fighting games go, it manages to be one of the better ones because it doesn't need the PSP or your thumb to do things that it simply can't. This is especially true if you’re a fan of Dragon Ball Z. We just hope that next year’s edition will actually bring something new to the table and maybe even make it more accessible for fans that haven’t yet jumped aboard.
The Score
While not very different or revolutionary, Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai 2 provides the fans with what they want. Plenty of DBZ and some solid but enjoyable fighting action. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
You're right, that in-game art is awesome!

With the second image in the media panel (2 of 10) the screen looks a bit full and busy. Was that an issue at all whilst playing? Or was it not that bad, a relatively minor amount of playing in that situation, perhaps?
6 years ago

This is the overworld. The clutter isn't really offputting, it works reasonably well. It's ugliness that you have to worry about...
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