Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 Review

15 years ago I was a snotty child, but the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai game series was also born. The Dragon Ball Z: Budokai game series was very important because it was one of the first Dragon Ball Z game series’ with a worldwide release. Before the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai series, most of the Dragon Ball Z games had come out only in Japan and certain European countries, mainly France. The ones that had been released worldwide didn’t really have much of an impact. In 2002, with the release of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, there was finally a decent Dragon Ball Z fighting game for fans across the globe to enjoy. However, it wasn’t until 2 years later with Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 that Dragon Ball Z games really took off. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 made several improvements to the gameplay, and is arguably the most popular game in the series. So let’s take a look at what Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is.


Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is a 2.5D fighting game. It plays like a 2D fighter with some 3D elements, such as side-stepping and camera rotation. The speed is mostly medium-paced, and as in the previous Dragon Ball Z: Budokai games, the character’s special moves and transformations are customisable. A new addition to Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is the Dragon Rush mechanic. The Dragon Rush is a move in which the attacking player has a chance to land 3 hits on the opponent via a guessing game. The Dragon Rush is kind of annoying because it interrupts the flow of battle, and can take some time to end. The AI also abuses it at times. The story mode in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is called Dragon Universe. 11 characters can be chosen to play through their Dragon Ball Z story. An overworld map can be explored for hidden items, battle, and fun scenes.


Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 has cel-shaded 3D graphics. The character models look bright, but the stages can look a bit geometric in comparison. Some stages look mostly static, except for some elements that move such as clouds or lava. However, they do look great and look alive. Some character models are also not accurate, such as Majin Buu, who is smaller than he is supposed to be. The auras and beams in general look good, although at times they can look flat. The Super Saiyan 2 transformations also do not have the blue lightning. In general, though, the graphics look great.


Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 has mostly catchy and upbeat music that gives the game a friendly vibe. There are also some more invigorating tracks for some battles. However, most of the tracks were plagiarised from songs of rock bands and pop singers, and this caused the soundtrack to be replaced in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection. Though plagiarised, the soundtracks of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 has a lot of groove. Some of the most sticky tracks in my opinion are the Main Menu, World Tournament Character Select, and Dragon Universe Character Select tracks. I sometimes feel like dancing when hearing some of the tracks. The battle sound effects also help in making the fights feel alive.

Pursue is one of the new tactics that adds depth to the game.

Hours of Gameplay

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 has a lot of unlockable content to keep the players occupied. Dragon Universe needs to be passed more than once with every character in order for some items to be unlocked. Some characters, such as Uub, have very few fights in Dragon Universe, but others, such as Goku, have fights that span all of the Dragon Ball Z sagas. The fact that characters can level-up and be customised also gives Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 a lot of replayability. On the downside, however, passing Dragon Universe more than once can be tedious. Some items can only also be unlocked via the Capsule Shop. Gotenks, in particular, can only be unlocked by buying his capsule in the Capsule Shop, but the chances of it appearing are low.

Final Verdict

Although Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 was released almost 13 years ago, it still stands as one of the most popular Dragon Ball Z games to date. One of the great additions to the game is that it was one of the first games to feature movie characters such as Cooler and Broly, and even Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta from Dragon Ball GT. If you’re a fan of Dragon Ball Z and still own a PS2, I definitely recommend the game. PS3 and Xbox 360 users can get Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection, which features HD versions of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, but as mentioned above, it has a different (but non-plagiarised) soundtrack if you don’t mind.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 Retrospective
  • Gameplay - 8.5/10
  • Graphics - 8/10
  • Sound - 8/10
  • Ambience - 8.5/10
  • Hours of Gameplay - 8.5/10
User Rating 0 (0 votes)

Jorge Olivares10 Posts

Video game writer with a preference for retro games (Mainly 4th - 6th gen). Sometimes, though, something modern will meet his somewhat vague and complex expectations.


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