Dragon Ball Z: Budokai
Images (25)
Developer(s) Dimps
Publisher(s) JP/EU Bandai
NA Atari
Series Budokai series
Release date(s) EU November 2, 2002
US December, 2002
JP February 13, 2003
Genre(s) Action, Fighting
Rating(s) ESRB: T
PEGI: 12
Platform(s) Playstation 2, Nintendo Gamecube
Media DVD-R
Arcade sound system(s) Stereo
Video games Listing - Category

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 that was released for the PlayStation 2 in December 2002 in North America and for the Nintendo GameCube in North America on October 2003. The game was released in Japan by Bandai on the PlayStation 2 in February 13, 2003, while the Nintendo GameCube release was brought out near the end of the year, on November 28, 2003. It was developed by Dimps and published by Atari. 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 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 with the prize money from the World Tournament mode.

There are three types of skills: Special Moves, which include skills such as the Kamehameha and the ability to become Super Saiyan; Physical, which includes such skills as Zanku Fist; and Equipment, which includes skills such as the Senzu Bean. One can also purchase Dragon Balls, and when you have all of them, Oolong appears and summons Shenron, giving the player a choice of 3 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.

Story ModeEdit

Vegeta Transforming Into Great Ape

Vegeta transforming into a Great Ape

The Story Mode consists of 3D cutscenes adapted from the series (though more close to the manga than the anime). 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 - and 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. Then Krillin and Gohan turn up, and Vegeta beats them separately. After the battle, Vegeta speaks to himself for a minute while Yajirobe sneaks up behind him. Vegeta hears Yajirobe, and, impressed by Yajirobe's bravery, offers him to become his next pupil. Yajirobe refuses, stating that he does not want to end up like Nappa. Infurirated at being reminded of Nappa's death, Vegeta goes a Super Saiyan in anger. The episode ends.
  • 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, deciding to destroy Earth next. The episode ends.
  • In Cell's storyline, Aim For Perfect Form!/A Cold Blooded Assassin, Cell attempts to absorb 17 and 18, and successfully beats 16 in battle. He then absorbs 17, but while attempting to absorb 18 Krillin jumps in the way, causing Cell to accidentally absorbs Krillin and lose a lot of power (Cell battles Krillin first, though). Yamcha and Tien then show up to challenge the weakened Cell. He just manages to beat Yamcha, but he is then killed by Tien. The real Cell then wakes up in the middle of the Cell Ring, realizing that it was a dream. He then says that ten days may have been too long to wait for the tournament. The episode ends.

World TournamentEdit

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
  • Adept: 30,000 Zeni
  • Advance: 50,000 Zeni


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 HerculeEdit

Legend of Hercule 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 your Ki to attack, or defeating your opponent within a time limit. The final opponent is Perfect Cell.


There are three sequels released to this game, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 (Dragon Ball Z 2 V), Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, and Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World.

The game Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi in Japan, released in fall 2005, is not a true sequel to the Budokai series; it was developed by Spike instead of Dimps and features a radically different fighting engine. In its home country of Japan it is known as Dragon Ball Z Sparking!, but was renamed for worldwide release to capitalize on the popularity of the Budokai brand. A sequel to Budokai Tenkaichi was released on October 2006 release in Japan under the title Dragon Ball Z Sparking! Neo and was also released in the U.S. as Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2. Later, on November 2007, under the name of Dragonball Z: Sparking! METEOR, and was also released in the U.S (and other places), as Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3.


Playable charactersEdit

Unplayable/Story-only character/costumesEdit

This ones are characters or costumes that only appear in Story Mode as the controlled character or as an enemy. They are not playable in any other mode.

  • Android 19 (Kicked Face) – Unplayable costume
  • Cellin – Story-only character
  • Cell Jr. – Unplayable character
  • Goku (General Vest: Alternate Turtle Hermit Symbol) – Story-only costume
  • Goku (General Vest: King Kai Symbol) – Story-only costume
  • Goku (Damaged General Vest) – Story-only costume
  • Goku (General Vest) – Story-only costume
  • Goku (Scouter) – Unplayable costume
  • Nappa (Armorless) – Unplayable costume
  • Recoome (Armorless: Damaged) – Unplayable costume
  • Saibaman – Unplayable character
  • Vegeta (Scouter) – Story-only costume
  • Vegeta (Rit Armor) – Story-only costume

Battle StagesEdit

Voice castEdit

The North American version contains the voices from the FUNimation Dub of the anime series, with all other localised 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 Ryo 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 Toru 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 Sho 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 Junpei Takiguchi Christopher Sabat
Dr. Gero Kōji Yada Kent Williams
Android 16 Hikaru Midorikawa Jeremy Inman
Android 17 Shigeru Nakahara Chuck Huber
Android 18 Miki Itou Meredith McCoy
Android 19 Yukitoshi Hori Phillip Wilburn
Cell Norio Wakamoto Dameon Clarke
Saibamen Toru Furuya John Burgmeier
Cell Jr. Hirotaka Suzuoki Justin Cook
Shenron Kenji Utsumi Christopher Sabat
World Tournament Announcer Hirotaka Suzuoki Eric Vale
Narrator Joji Yanami Kyle Hebert


The game has received less than favorable reviews; many critics complained about its simple interface and the fact that combos were not worth the payoff. Some even complained about the graphics. The game has received a 68% on Game Rankings.

Prima's Official Strategy GuideEdit

The strategy guide was released in 2002. In the book it went into a rather in-depth walkthrough, fighting machinics, character biographies and rarity of all the capsules. Despite this the guide had many problems such as Yamcha's and Hercule's hair being different from the anime (the latter is seen in various pictures with his afro). Several ultimates were skipped such as Gohan's Super Kamehameha, Piccolo's Hellzone Grenade and Goku's Warp Kamehameha. Even transformations were skipped and Piccolo's were misspelled. There was also a Limited Edtion DVD with an Episode of GT, Yu Yu Hakusho and several trailers. The book also gave a very small preview to Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu while the DVD featured an entire "sizzle" video.



Spopovich on in the left hand bottom corner of the PAL boxart

  • The opening from the Japanese version featured "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" (the first opening song from the TV series). It was replaced in the American version with the first US theme song, "Rock the Dragon". However, the end credits featured "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" instrumentals. For some reason the opening used in the European version was just made of clips from the Story Mode, and had a 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, and on the back side Majin Vegeta seen with Babidi, Majin Buu and Dabura. However Majin Vegeta, Babidi, Majin Buu and Dabura do not appear in the game (they all appear in the Majin Buu Saga, which is not in the game).
  • The Kamehameha attack is yellow for everyone except for Cell, while in the anime, it is blue. In the colored page 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.
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  • 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. Other Budokai games (excluding the Budokai Tenkaichi 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 was mistakenly given the same voice as Perfect Cell, while he was saying, "Nothing can stop me from fulfilling my design! I am perfect!"
  • This is the only game in the Budokai series to have Future Trunks' Ascended Super Saiyan form, as well as Cell Power-Weighted form. This is also the only Budokai game to feature Android 19, Zarbon and Dodoria as playable characters.
  • This is the only game to have Gohan's outfit from the 10 day-time period before the Cell Games and Vegeta's outfit from the episode "Granddaughter Pan".
  • The alternate costume for Nappa in Duel, Practice and World Tournament is the same as Vegeta's blue suit.
  • Nail appears as an Alternate Costume for Piccolo.
  • Originally, the European version of the game called Mr. Satan by his original name, but this was changed to Hercule in later releases.