Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 Review (PS2)

Let’s go back to a couple of years ago when Dragon Ball was just casually being its awesome self. The times when Super Saiyan 4 Goku was the most impressive thing ever. Today, we have Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (xD). Despite not being canon, Super Saiyan 4 is still popular enough to be appearing in more recent games.

Anyways, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3, (or Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! METEOR in Japan), was released for the PS2 and Wii in late 2007. Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a really good game but one minor personal criticism that I have is the cover of the game. For some reason the Japanese and PAL versions of all three Budokai Tenkaichi games have Super Saiyan Goku doing a Kamehameha pose in the middle. The US covers for the first two games at least were different and look varied. But the Japanese and PAL versions look kind of similar but with different colours and characters. But that aside, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a great game. So without further ado, let the review begin!

Japanese covers of all three Budokai Tenkaichi games.


Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a 3D fighting game. Fights take place in a 3D stage which is usually a terrain. The camera in fights is a 3/4 kind of view with your character’s back facing the screen and the enemy in the distance with the front facing the screen. There are over 160 playable characters in total, although some of them are the same character but with different special moves. All of the characters use the same button inputs and feel really similar. Minor differences such as speed, types of specials and the hitting animations set the characters apart. But there’s a customisation mode to make them more offensive, defensive, charge ki faster, etc.

During the fight, you rely mostly on the Ki bar to perform special moves and other features such as counters and dashing. There is also the Blast Stock bar that fills up by itself which you can use to enter Max Power mode and to use other moves. In Max Power Mode you can use ultimate attacks. The Blast Stock bar can also be used to transform. One minor thing that some people dislike is the camera view during a 2 player fight. The screen is split in two so that both characters backs are facing the screen.

2 player fight. Notice how Goku’s back… or hair… is facing the screen.


The fighting mechanics can be really complex but there is a tutorial for you to see them. One of the new features is the Z-Counter in which you can teleport behind the opponent. Your opponent can also teleport behind you and the teleporting can repeat itself. The fighting in this game is really fast-paced. Another nice feature is the night and day stages and the ability for Saiyans such as Vegeta to create an artificial moon.



Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 has 3D cel-shaded models. The characters really look like they do in the series and they are bright and colourful. The stages are vast and some of them provide you with houses and other places to hide and/or destroy.  The stages include places from all three Dragon Balls. The special attacks and explosions look kind of detailed and not just colourful messes. Characters have their auras and the beams and special attacks look good. One thing that I find fun is to repel ki blasts because you look like a badass who won’t be affected by such futile attempt at special moves.

Ki blast repelling reminds me of the battle against Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time.


The tracks in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3  can be categorised to fast-paced ass-kicking music and light-hearted innocent music. For sound effects you have the classical ki-charging, flying, dashing, teleporting, ki blasts and pure physical aggression. Another neat thing is that you can play the game with both English and Japanese audio. So if you’re into anime you’ll definitely enjoy the Japanese audio.


Nostalgia Factor

One of the biggest attractions of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is its nostalgia factor. There are 12 playable characters from the original Dragon Ball, and Arale from Dr. Slump (who appeared in a Dragon Ball saga) makes an appearance. Fan-favourites such as General Blue, Nam and the original Piccolo make their appearance in the game. The Pilaf Machine also appears in the game. Although Emperor Pilaf isn’t visible but you can hear his voice and also his assistants’ (Shu and Mai) voices. Another nice thing is that the characters were modeled in the original Dragon Ball drawing style, with the characteristic round eyes and more cartoonish look. That’s really a good point because it ups the nostalgia factor in many levels.


Only hardcore Dragon Ball fans will understand how amazing this part of the roster is.

Play Time

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 features 4 main modes and the content can probably keep you occupied for some 30 plus hours. Story mode features fights from various of the series’ sagas. Mission 100 has 100 fights, many of which are tag team fights in which you have to defeat about 3 characters. Those two modes should be the ones that consume more time to play. Sim Dragon is a mode in which you can choose a character and train to prepare yourself for some fights and it should you about half an hour to pass.

The World Tournament mode has 5 tournaments, but you can only enter one at a time. The difficulty is random and that makes it kind of annoying as you need to play on certain difficulties for certain items. Other items can be unlocked by collecting the Dragon Balls, which is rather tedious to do. So while the game can keep you busy at times, it sometimes isn’t all that fun and can seem like a chore. In my opinion, the game can be addicting at times, but not enough for binging.


Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a must have for Dragon Ball fans. It has the largest roster of any Dragon Ball game so far and really plays like a Dragon Ball fight. The more advanced tactics require very exact timing, but you can do some nice stuff. Hardcore fans will definitely be the ones to appreciate it the most.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3
  • Gameplay - 9/10
  • Graphics - 9/10
  • Sound - 8/10
  • Nostalgia Factor - 10/10
  • Play Hours - 8/10
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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