No more waiting: after over a decade, a new Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi game is officially in development. Longtime fans are losing their minds. Everyone else is hopelessly confused.
The new 3D fighter adaptation of the hit manga and anime series was teased during the Dragon Ball Games Battle Hour 2023 esports event on Sunday night. We didn’t get any information about the upcoming game outside of the Budokai Tenkaichi name and a brief clip of Goku powering up into his Super Saiyan God Blue form.
Given everything that’s happened in the Dragon Ball Super era of the series since the last Budokai Tenkaichi game, there are a ton of new characters, storylines, and transformations a Budokai Tenkaichi 4 could tap into. Hopefully, though, it remains true to the earlier games as well, retaining Super Saiyan 4 and other retconned elements that have since been retconned. At its best, Budokai Tenkaichi has always served as a sort of playable encyclopedia.
DBZ fans are naturally going wild:
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Some quick background. Since the days of the NES, gaming has been rife with DBZ adaptations. Some were adventure games, others were fighting games. Most simply retread the established story beats of Akira Toriyama’s manga over and over again. Lots were bad. Many were just okay. A few live on in the hearts and minds of fans decades later. In the PS2 era it was the 2D side-scrolling Budokai fighting series. In the age of the Wii and PS3 it was the Budokai Tenkaichi games which took that formula into giant 3D maps.
Why are people stoked for Budokai Tenkaichi?
With giant and notoriously imbalanced rosters at their disposal, players could get into epic, 12 fighter tag-team battles that spanned characters from Dragon Ball all the way up through the lovingly bizarre futuristic spin-off, Dragon Ball GT. Movement and combos could sometimes be janky, especially in the Wii version with the motion controls, but with a full ki gauge and a lot of experience, players could recreate all the bonkers fights from the series and more.
Budokai Tenkaichi 3 arrived in 2007. It was followed by clunkier and less impressive series like Dragon Ball: Raging Blast, Ultimate Tenkaichi, and Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z, before Bandai Namco ultimately pivoted to the Xenoverse franchise, which featured character creators, original storylines, and more RPG mechanics. Xenoverse 2, released in 2016, found plenty of fans, as evidenced by the fact that it continues to get DLC expansions seven years later, but it’s not Budokai Tenkaichi. Nor is Dragon Ball FighterZ which, while incredible in its own right, remains a 2D side-scrolling fighter.
Hence why so many fans are so jacked for a sequel to a trilogy most people never touched. Nostalgia is no doubt playing a part. Many of my best memories of a Budokai Tenkaichi throwdown were in the pre-online multiplayer days when lag wasn’t an issue and sweaty-palmed marathons were among close friends and newcomers who you didn’t even know liked Dragon Ball Z until they spotted Budokai Tenkaichi on the CRT.
I have no idea if Budokai Tenkaichi 4, or whatever Bandai Namco ends up calling the new game, will deliver. But I can promise you I will be there day one to get my revenge on an OP Arale Norimaki.