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Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, released as Dragon Ball Z (ドラゴンボールZ Doragon Bōru Zetto) in Japan, is a fighting video game developed by Dimps and published by Bandai and Infogrames. It was released for the PlayStation 2 in December 2002 in North America and for the Nintendo GameCube in North America on October 2003. As the GameCube version was released almost a year after the PlayStation 2 version, the opportunity was taken to improve the graphics using cel-shading.

The game was re-rendered in HD for the 2012 Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, though anything outside of battle gameplay is displayed in 4:3 instead of 16:9.


The objective of each battle is to deplete your opponent's health bar. Battles take place on a 2.5D plane, where characters may move around. To unleash Super Attacks, characters must use up a certain number of Ki bars on the Ki gauge. Characters can also transform, where they gain super attacks and increased strength.


Each character can be optionally customized by using a 7-slot skill tray; players may choose up to 7 skills and assign them to the fighter of their choice. Some skills can take up multiple slots. Skills may be purchased from Mr. Popo in the Edit Skills mode using the prize money from the World Tournament mode.

There are three types of skills:

One can also purchase Dragon Balls, and when all of them are collected, Oolong appears and summons Shenron, giving the player a choice of three Breakthrough Capsules; these allow a player to use all of a character's moves and abilities at once at the cost of every slot in the skill tray.

Game modes[]


The Story Mode consists of 3D cutscenes adapted from the series. Unlike later Budokai games, the story mode is similar to most other fighting games (in which cutscenes occur between battles). The story mode covers 3 Sagas: Saiyan, Namekian, Android Sagas. The player automatically collects capsules (or sometimes Dragon Balls and characters) at the end of each battle. Also, more levels are unlocked during a second playthrough. At the end of every saga there are bonus "what if" episodes, and one plays as the main villain of that saga; Vegeta, Frieza and Cell respectively:

  • In Vegeta's storyline, "Vegeta, Saiyan Prince", Vegeta and Goku duel, and Vegeta defeats him with minimum effort, driven by the desire to avenge Nappa's defeat (though he himself killed Nappa, he still feels for his comrade's demise). Then Krillin and Gohan turn up, and Vegeta beats them separately. After the battle, Yajirobe sneaks up behind Vegeta but he is heard. Impressed by Yajirobe's stealthiness, Vegeta offers him to become his next pupil. Yajirobe refuses, stating that he does not want to end up like Nappa. Infuriated at being reminded of Nappa's death, Vegeta goes Super Saiyan in anger, leaving Yajirobe terrified.
  • In Frieza's storyline, "Raging Frieza/The True Ruler", Frieza successfully beats Krillin, Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, and Goku in battle. He then succeeds in wishing for immortality. Blowing up Namek, Frieza returns to his spaceship and decides to head for Earth with the intention of destroying it.
  • In Cell's storyline, "Aim For Perfect Form!/A Cold-Blooded Assassin", Cell attempts to absorb Android 17 and Android 18, and successfully beats Android 16 in battle. He then absorbs 17, but while attempting to absorb 18, Krillin intervenes. Though Cell wins the ensuing fight, Krillin uses his last strength to push 18 aside, causing Cell to accidentally absorb Krillin and lose a lot of power. Yamcha and Tien Shinhan then show up to challenge the weakened Cell. He barely manages to beat Yamcha, but he is then destroyed by Tien. The real Cell then wakes up in the middle of the Cell Ring, realizing that it was a nightmare, and saying to himself that ten days was too long to wait for the Cell Games.

World Match[]

The World Tournament allows players to compete against a computer-controlled character in a Martial Arts Tournament. The Prizes can be the following:

  • Novice: 10,000 Zeni (5,000 for second place)
  • Adept: 30,000 Zeni (15,000 for second place)
  • Advance: 50,000 Zeni (25,000 for second place)


Dueling mode allows a player to fight a computer-controlled character at a preset skill level, or two human players to fight each other using any custom skills. A player may also watch a fight between two computer-controlled fighters.

Legend of Hercule[]

Legend of Hercule (Legend of Mr. Satan in the European and Japanese versions) is an optional mode unlocked through capsules. In this mode, players control Hercule as he defeats several opponents, arcade-style. Some fights have special conditions, such as only using Ki to attack, or defeating the opponent within a time limit. The final opponent is Perfect Cell.


Playable characters[]

Name Playable Forms Usable Costumes Story-only/Unplayable Costumes/Forms Available at Start
#16 No
  • Androids Saga clothing
  • Black shirt and brown jacket with brown pants
#18 No
  • Standard appearance
  • Purple skin and blue apparel
  • Boot mark on face
Captain Ginyu
  • Self-injured, Damaged Armor, without Scouter
  • Standard appearance
  • Blue skin
  • Cellin
Dodoria No
  • Standard appearance
  • Kuriza coloring
  • Purple Battle Armor with Scouter
  • "Go" symbol Gi
  • Capsule Corp fur-lined brown leather jacket
Great Saiyaman
  • Standard Great Saiyaman costume, Saiyaman helmet
  • Teal Great Saiyaman costume, bandana and glasses
  • Standard appearance
  • Shirtless, red pants
Kid Gohan Yes
  • Turtle School Gi
  • Green and yellow Capsule Corp jacket
  • Armorless, destroyed clothing
  • Standard appearance (No Weighted clothing)
  • Nail's outfit
  • Standard appearance
  • Blue basic battle armor
  • Standard appearance
  • Armor-less with black Ginyu Force jumpsuit
  • Armorless, damaged black Ginyu force jumpsuit
Teen Gohan
  • Piccolo's Gi
  • White Mao suit
  • Shirtless, green pants
  • Blue tunic, white pants.
Trunks No
  • Base
  • Super Saiyan
  • Super Vegeta
  • Bulma's battle armor
  • Black leather jacket, orange shirt and brown pants.
  • Full Battle Armor with Scouter and Tail
  • RIT Armor
  • Full Battle Armor with Scouter and Tail in Full Blue Form
  • Damaged Armor (cutscene only)
  • Basic Armor
  • Basic Armor with hole in chest area and back
  • Turtle School Gi, short hair
  • Casual white shirt, green pants
  • Standard appearance (without cape)
  • Black pants, elegant white shirt with rose pin

Battle Stages[]

Budokai Menu characters

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai menu

Voice cast[]

The North American version contains the voices from the Funimation dub of the anime series, with all other localized versions containing the original Japanese dub with subtitles.

Character Name Voice Actor (Japanese) V.A. (U.S. English)
Goku Masako Nozawa Sean Schemmel
Gohan (Kid and Teen) Masako Nozawa Stephanie Nadolny
Great Saiyaman Masako Nozawa Kyle Hebert
Piccolo Toshio Furukawa Christopher Sabat
Vegeta Ryō Horikawa Christopher Sabat
Bulma Hiromi Tsuru Tiffany Vollmer
Future Trunks Takeshi Kusao Eric Vale
Krillin Mayumi Tanaka Sonny Strait
Yajirobe Mayumi Tanaka Mike McFarland
Yamcha Tōru Furuya Christopher Sabat
Tien Shinhan Hirotaka Suzuoki John Burgmeier
Chiaotzu Hiroko Emori Monika Antonelli
Chi-Chi Mayumi Shou Cynthia Cranz
Master Roshi Hiroshi Masuoka Mike McFarland
Oolong Naoki Tatsuta Brad Jackson
Puar Naoko Watanabe Monika Antonelli
Hercule Daisuke Gōri Chris Rager
Mr. Popo Toku Nishio Christopher Sabat
Korin Naoki Tatsuta Mark Britten
Kami Takeshi Aono Christopher Sabat
King Kai Jōji Yanami Sean Schemmel
Raditz Shigeru Chiba Justin Cook
Nappa Shōzō Iizuka Phil Parsons
Frieza Ryūsei Nakao Linda Young
Zarbon Shō Hayami Christopher Sabat
Dodoria Yukitoshi Hori Chris Forbis
Cui Kōji Totani Bill Townsley
Captain Ginyu Hideyuki Hori Brice Armstrong
Burter Yukimasa Kishino Mark Britten
Guldo Kōzō Shioya Bill Townsley
Jeice Kazumi Tanaka Christopher Sabat
Recoome Kenji Utsumi Christopher Sabat
Porunga Masaharu Satō Christopher Sabat
Dr. Gero Kōji Yada Kent Williams
Android 16 Hikaru Midorikawa Jeremy Inman
Android 17 Shigeru Nakahara Chuck Huber
Android 18 Miki Itō Meredith McCoy
Android 19 Yukitoshi Hori Phillip Wilburn
Cell Norio Wakamoto Dameon Clarke
Saibamen Tōru Furuya John Burgmeier
Cell Jr. Hirotaka Suzuoki Justin Cook
Shenron Kenji Utsumi Christopher Sabat
World Tournament Announcer Hirotaka Suzuoki Eric Vale
Narrator Jōji Yanami Kyle Hebert
Cell Games Announcer Yukimasa Kishino James T. Fields
System Voice Lane Pianta


Publication Score
PS2 Version
IGN 6.2 of 10
GameZone 7.2 of 10
GameSpot 6.9 of 10
GameCube Version
IGN 6.4 of 10
Game Spot 6.9 of 10
Review compilations (PS2 Version)
Game Rankings 68.8% (based on 38 reviews)
Metacritic 67% (based on 28 reviews)
Review compilations (GameCube Version)
Game Rankings 65.8% (based on 29 reviews)
Metacritic 65% (based on 16 reviews)

The first Budokai received "mixed or average" reviews on both platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. Entertainment Weekly gave the PlayStation 2 version a C and said that its characters, "while lacking artistic detail, still yell, grunt, and move almost exactly like their broadcast counterparts."

Many critics complained about the GameCube version's simple interface and the fact that combos weren't worth the payoff. However, more complex combos were possible due to an oversight in the move canceling feature but were rarely known at the time.

These oversights were turned into an important part of the system in the later games and were what high level play tended to revolve around.

The game had shipped 3.5 million copies on PS2 by June 2003.[1] It sold a total of 543,000 copies on PS2 in Japan according to Famitsu's 2003 year end chart.[2] In the United States it sold 2.04 million copies.[3]


Dragon Ball Z - Budokai PlayStation 2

Spopovich on in the left-hand bottom corner of the PAL box art

  • This was the first Dragon Ball video game to be dubbed by Funimation, which has since provided English dubs for the majority of the 3D Dragon Ball games produced to this day (as well as most 2D games released since the first Budokai).
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Majin Vegeta, Majin Buu, Dabura and Babidi appear on the back but are not included in the game

  • The opening from the Japanese version featured "Cha-La Head-Cha-La". It was replaced in the American version with "Rock the Dragon". However, the end credits feature an instrumental remix of "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" in all versions. For some reason, the opening used in the European version was just made of clips from the Story Mode and had different music. Speculation led lots to believe it was due to most of the European audience not seeing the proper introduction the anime had, although it was actually seen in some countries like Spain.
  • On the dueling image on the main menu and the PAL boxart, Vegeta is in his Buu Saga attire. Also, on the PAL boxart, Vegeta from Buu Saga is seen in the bottom corner with Spopovich. On the back side Majin Vegeta and Great Saiyaman is seen with Babidi, Majin Buu and Dabura, yet none of those characters appear in the game. These characters are removed from the cover art used for the Platinum re-release.
  • The Kamehameha attack is yellow for everyone except for Cell, while in the anime, it is blue. In the colored pages of the manga, though, the Kamehameha is most of the time yellow.
  • Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon would be purple from this game to the end of the Budokai series.
  • This is the only game in the Budokai series to have Zarbon, Dodoria and Android 19 as playable characters, as well as Vegeta and Future Trunks in their Super Saiyan Second Grade forms, Future Trunks in his Super Saiyan Third Grade form, and Cell in his Perfect Form (Power-Weighted).
  • Despite only including the story up to the Cell Saga, the game has some elements from later parts of the series: the Great Saiyaman is a playable character, Tien has the blue outfit he wore when he faced Super Buu (minus the cape) as an alternate costume, Vegeta has his outfit from the episodes before the 28th World Martial Arts Tournament at the end of Dragon Ball Z, Android 17's alternate costume has the coat he wore in the Super 17 Saga in Dragon Ball GT, and Mr. Satan uses the Game Boy bombs he attempted to attack Majin Buu with in both of his ultimate attacks.
  • Unlike later games in which transforming gave a slight percentage of attack increasement, each transformation in Budokai gives each character a 10% attack increase, making characters who can transform the most powerful characters in the game, though the ki consumption rate was incredibly high as characters transformed. Later Budokai games gives characters smaller increases or fixed increases depending on transformations, being no more than 10% extra for each transformation (this makes Goku theoretically the strongest character in terms of sheer attack power since he has the most transformations, though the ki consumption at the point of his Super Saiyan form requires a lot of ki charging and even then, is easy to fall to lesser forms).
  • During the story mode's cutscenes inside Kame House, a book on Master Roshi's table has a blurred image of the cover for the first Dragon Ball manga volume.
  • In the first scene from the level "Show Gohan's True Power", Great Ape Vegeta is crushing Goku then says, "That power level...where?". This is a goof because Vegeta could not sense power levels until the Namek Saga.
  • In the scene from "A Wicked Omen", when Piccolo sees Cell for the first time, he says Cell you monster! which is an error because Piccolo did not know who Cell was when he confronted him.
  • During one of the game's cutscenes, Imperfect Cell is given the same voice as Perfect Cell while he is saying "Nothing can stop me from fulfilling my design! I am perfect!" Also, Imperfect Cell's voice is retained throughout his transformations during battle; this also occurs with Zarbon in his monster form. However, aside from cutscenes, Perfect Cell's actual voice can be heard when launching the Spirit Bomb.
  • Originally, the European version of the game called Mr. Satan by his original name, but this was changed to Hercule in later releases.
  • Once all the Breakthrough Capsules are obtained, the Dragon Balls can be purchased one last time. However, they will be of no use afterwards, making them nothing more than showcase items.
  • In the capsule ship where you play as Goku training against the fake Vegeta, if you skip the part where he hears King Kai looking surprised (which is when you finish the ki reflect/deflect training), when the screen shows Goku, the controls and the objective under the bottom, he will have a shock looking face rather than his usual heroic like smile.
  • Cell's Perfect Form (Power-Weighted) model is unplayable and is only seen in story mode and Change Caps view model.



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