I know I talk about Dragon Ball a lot, but lately I’ve found myself getting more involved in the series. The quality of material the franchise is churning out is fantastic! It’s surprising considering how old the series is. This is a series that has lasted over 30 years, and is still receiving new shows, manga, and movies. Today though, I want to discuss the Dragon Ball games.
There are over 100 Dragon Ball games in existence, with new ones being churned out on a yearly basis. With such a constant stream of Dragon Ball video-game content, I felt it was time to discuss what my favorite entries in the series are. I’ve narrowed it down to five games specifically. I’m sticking with 5, because I haven’t played that many Dragon Ball games. I’ve played several, but I’ve missed out on some of the really big ones. Without further adieu, let’s get started!
Honorable Mention: Dragon Ball Online
Dragon Ball Online is of a rare breed: A Korean MMORPG that I actually enjoy quite a bit! DBO is a game with its own unique plot and setting, wrapped up in an MMO package. With three different races to play, and a variety of different lands to explore, DBO definitely feels like a large and fulfilling experience. However, I find it impossible to place on this list.
For one thing, I played this game on a private server. This particular server was in beta, so the translation wasn’t finished. It’s hard for me to play a game who’s plot and story I couldn’t fully understand in the top 5. Also, this game still has quite a bit of bugs and glitches. Once the server is fully finished, I may add it to the top 5. Still, for now I feel comfortable enough to place it as an honorable mention.
5. Dragon Ball Z Budokai 1 (2002)
While I’m not usually a fan of 2D fighters, I gotta say that I love DBZ Budokai! This game was my childhood, it was one of the few games that really captured the feeling of the show at that time. I remember this game shipping while the English dub was still in mid-broadcast, so characters we hadn’t seen yet (like Great Saiyaman) showed up in the game. So, what is this game exactly?
Well, it’s a 2D fighting game, featuring story arcs from the show that are recreated in 3D. The game’s beautiful (for the time) graphics mixed with its action-packed gameplay were certainly things to behold. Of course, Budokai 1 is not without its problems. The fighting itself can feel bland at times, especially when you have to do unnecessary combos just to pull off a special attack.
On top of this, the game hits some huge difficulty spikes halfway through. While the “What If” stories are definitely a welcome addition to this game, they aren’t as fleshed out as the ones that appear in Xenoverse. On top of this, the game’s graphics have not aged super well. Still, I can definitely say that I have fun with this game and continue to do so. Unfortunately, the game’s flaws keep me from putting it higher on the list.
4. Dragon Ball: Z Legacy of Goku II (2003)
Let’s be real here, the first Legacy of Goku was a train-wreck. It had a ton of flaws, including limiting the player only playing as Goku, having a cumbersome combat system, having even the weakest enemies able overpower you, not to mention the awkward full-motion video. Legacy of Goku was a mess, an attempt by an American company to create a cheap cash-in on a beloved series.
Despite this, the game sold like hotcakes. Not only that, but a sequel was churned out just a year later! Legacy of Goku II was nothing like the game that came before it, Webfoot Technologies definitely learned from their mistakes. The combat has been vastly improved, there are now multiple playable characters, you could now charge your melee attacks, you could now transform into a Super Saiyan, along with various other improvements.
Legacy of Goku II felt like a true improvement over its predecessor. Not only that, but it covered the Cell Saga, which was one of my favorites! The game certainly has problems, such as the graphics engine not having changed all that much, and the fact that you barely play as Goku at all, but the good far out-weigh the bad. I think this is an action RPG that anyone can get behind.
3. Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3
It’s hard to put into words how much I love BT3, but I’ll try. This is a Dragon Ball game that really gets crazy, especially when compared to those that came before! BT3 is a fully 3D fighting game, with over 150 different characters. You heard me, over 150! There are so many choices when it comes to the kind of character you want to play as. Almost every Dragon Ball character that existed was playable in the game. Of course, there are exceptions to this. A fair amount of characters from the original show are noticeably absent.
Still, the roster is massive enough to make up for this. BT3’s large roster of characters isn’t its only draw, you can also create custom move-sets for each individual character! Not enough for you? The game also offers a story mode, covering each individual arc. Heck, even the movies and GT get their own arcs in this game! The game is truly all-encompassing when it comes to the amount of things there is in it.
As awesome as this game is, it does have its fair share of weaknesses. Most characters have a tendency to play exactly the same as each other. This comes down to the absurdly large roster this game touts. Also, most of the characters are horribly unbalanced. I can’t really picture BT3 being played at tournaments all that much.
That being said, I still greatly enjoy BT3. You may be wondering why BT3 is only the third spot of this top 5 list. This is mainly due to the fact that I feel the next two games greatly surpass it in terms of both customization and things to do. As much as I love this game, it pales in comparison to these next two entries.
2. Dragon Ball Fusions (2016)
Imagine a game where you can create your Dragon Ball character, send them into a mismatched world filled with other such characters, and fuse with anyone you want to become stronger. This is Dragon Ball Fusions in a nutshell! Dragon Ball Fusions is a game that not only lets you create your own character, but also explore a series of large open areas. Here, you participate in the story, level up, and recruit new characters to join you.
Including fusions, there are over 1000 different characters you can get! The free DLC adds even more characters to the game, allowing for further party customization. Couple this with a character you can customize to your heart’s content, fun gameplay that manages to combine elements of pinball with strategy, and fun tongue-in-cheek writing, and you have a charming little RPG that is begging to be played.
Fusions manages to take characters from all over the Dragon Ball franchise and present them in an entertaining and fresh way. DBF is a fantastic game, but it is also a flawed one. Online multiplayer is horribly unbalanced and lag-filled, the story is too short and not detailed well enough, and some side-quests (like the ones requiring you to fly through hoops) feel very tacked on.
To be fair, I wasn’t really expecting perfection from a children’s game anyways. This is a super easy game, but it was something I got a massive amount of enjoyment out of. It’s one of those few Dragon Ball games that I can easily say feels wholly unique. That being said, there is 1 Dragon Ball game that I feel outclasses it in a lot of ways. And that game is…
1. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 1 (2015)
Despite the dumb and rather nonsense name, I feel like Xenoverse is one of the best Dragon Ball games ever! I still have yet to play its much better sequel, but I definitely enjoyed my time with this first iteration. Imagine a Dragon Ball game that is part fighting game, part MMORPG, and part action RPG. Xenoverse blends these elements together and manages to make them feel unique.
Xenoverse lets you customize your characters to an insane degree, far outclassing even Fusions in what you can create. On top of this, there is so many things you can equip your character with to change his look. The fighting system is definitely fun as well, albeit a tad bit unbalanced. Xenoverse also present an entertaining “What If” story mode, filled with all kinds of fun and entertaining stories.
It’s not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination. You can beat the story mode in a few hours if you know what you’re doing, and some of the side-quests are brutally difficult for no reason. Still, this game’s sizable roster, character creation system, and fun game-play make up for its shortcomings. This game isn’t a masterpiece, and I doubt it ever will be. Still, it’s a solid action RPG that kept me engaged for 33 hours so far! That’s why I can definitely say this game is deserving of the number 1 spot!