Since first premiering in Japan on Fuji Television in 1989, Dragon Ball Z has gone from strength to strength, captivating audiences. It was one of first animes to successful cross the Pacific channel, and embed itself as part of America’s cultural fabric, having stints on Cartoon Network, Nicktoons, The CW, and Adult Swim on its Toonami segment.
Dragon Ball Z is the landmark series that’s surrounded by two other successful franchises, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT. Its cult status and mass fan appeal helped Dragon Ball Z popularize a genre in America like no other franchise before it.
Its central themes of heroism, redemption, and friendship colored the vast fictional universe that protagonist Goku and his band of friends and family inhabited. Undoubtedly, Dragon Ball Z open the door for other successful anime franchises such as Pokémon, Digimon, and Naruto, to name but a few.
The continued success of Dragon Ball Z, which can be attributed to the franchise’ accessibility, transcends its original formatting, branching out from our television screens into product merchandise, animated feature films, and even video games.
Also, with Dragon Ball Super populating our airwaves once again, it’s a great time to be a DBZ fan. To help you get started on exploring the world of Dragon Ball Z, we’ve compiled a list of the most important DBZ video games of all time.
Here are the 25 Best Dragon Ball Z Video Games, Ranked Worst To Best.
25. Dragon Ball Z: For Kinect
Encompassing the full breadth of Dragon Ball Z’s main sagas– from Raditz’s arrival in the Saiyan Saga all the way to through to the climatic Buu Saga– Dragon Ball Z: For Kinect is an enthusiastic effort to bring the high-flying action of Dragon Ball Z to the immersive experience of motion gaming.
Sadly, the potential to empower players in this motion-sensing game is never fully realized, being hindered by the Kinect’s unresponsiveness to specific gestures, erratic motion control, rigid game structure, and tedious repetitive battles that makes playing Dragon Ball Z: For Kinect an unnecessary chore.
At the very least, you’re treated to visual and cinematic presentation, with characters featuring rich cel-shading and beautiful environments, which gives the whole experience a relatively carbon copy imitation of its source material. Disappointingly, though, despite the game’s ambitious effort, this is a game not worth breaking a sweat over.
24. Dragonball: Evolution
Much like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, Dragon Ball Evolution was a poorly constructed attempt at making a live-action adaptation of its source material. Fascinatingly enough, despite the feature film’s unfavorable reviews and lacklustre performance at the box office, the movie tie-in Dragonball: Evolution video game was released simultaneously with the live-action film.
As a dull, muddled mess, Dragonball: Evolution is a 2D fight game with some embarrassingly poor production values. Essentially a stripped-down, simplistic version of the Tekken franchise, with none of the fun and even less action.
At its core, Dragonball: Evolution is pure button-masher, which, on its own is not a particular problem, but when coupled with the game’s limited special moves, a 2-hour story mode, and poor in-engine cutscenes, the game is merely an exercise in your tolerance for boredom.
23. Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu
There really isn’t anything memorable about Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu. In fact, there isn’t anything good about the game either. The game is as generic of a 2D fighting game as they come, and Taiketsu feels more like an attempt to capitalize on the popular franchise’s name rather than deliver a video game worth playing.
The end product feels incredibly unpolished, with every facet of the game suggesting that no real effort or care went into its creation. Sure, the game features the predictable mix of DBZ’s cast of heroes and villains providing a well-rounded roster, but the fight mechanics are commonplace, the AI is sloppy and simplistic, and the arena settings feel embarrassingly pedestrian.
The worst part of the game is how its presentation appears antiquated, with the 3D sprites being rather stiff and choppy in their animations. Overall, this is a generic fighting game that feels very unsatisfying.
22. Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22
A game’s longevity can be determined by four main factors: the ability to replay the game, game graphics that withstand the test of time, innovations in game mechanics, and a great narrative that tells a compelling story. Unfortunately, Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 carries none of those traits.
While the game carries a remarkable 22-character roster, featuring some of the most important fighters from the Frieza Saga through to the Buu Saga, there’s really not much else that impresses about this game.
The game’s AI lacks any resemblance of imagination or intelligence, the graphics feel and look outdated, special moves and controls are unresponsive, and the game carries no real story to drive the plot forward.
Considering the wealth of Dragon Ball Z games available in the franchise’s extensive library, Ultimate Battle 22 is a prime example of how licensing a popular franchise for profits sake can end with phenomenally terrible results.
21. Dragon Ball Z Budokai
Often the comparison and alternative to Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22, Dragon Ball Z Budokai succeeds where Ultimate Battle 22 failed. The plot may be simple, but it carries a strong narrative, with Budokai following the show’s timeline from the start of the Saiyan Saga through Gohan’s final battle with Cell.
The game showcases its strength with 23 different fighters on the roster, engaging game modes, and a variety of recognizable locales for fight arenas, such as Kami’s Lookout and the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.
The fight mechanics maybe rather simplistic but the game provides accessibility for pick-and-play opportunities while still carrying depth and complexity thanks the inclusion of each fighter’s signature move, unique combos, and Budokai’s burst system. While the game does have its failings, Budokai manages to embody the essence of Dragon Ball Z, making this a very fulfilling experience.
20. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z
While Budokai appeared to tap into a successful formula that has satisfied fans of the series and gamers alike, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z seems to have missed its mark in almost all aspects.
Battle of Z feels rather bare-boned, offering only three gameplay modes, with a story mode that’s roughly 12 hours long and combat that consists primarily of button-mashing. Also, despite having an interesting cooperative game mechanic– you play with three AI or human controlled friends– the AI is unresponsive and oblivious to the importance of teamwork.
Going online to play with friends means dealing with the constant issue of lag, and online matchmaking has no significant algorithm, lumping players together despite their skill level. While the game’s beautiful models and gorgeous settings are faithful tributes to the source material, it’s scarcity of depth and overwhelming challenges limits its mass appeal.
19. Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World
While there are certain Dragon Ball Z fighting games out there that set a high standard – Ultimate Tenkaichi, Xenoverse 2, and Budokai 3, to name a few — Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World is not one of them.
Attempting to mix the successful formulas of the Budokai and Shin-Budokai games, Infinite World aims to be the best of both worlds, but fails to live up to the standard set by these series. The combat mechanics feature relentless AI that are exceedingly difficult on even the easiest of difficulty settings, and the fight arenas are bland and lame.
Additionally, the in-game feature to purchase new moves and abilities provides no tutorial, so you don’t know how your newfound abilities will benefit you during battle. Sure there’s fun minigames to be had, providing memorable moments to take your mind off the dull gameplay, but these games are poorly designed and far too simplified to be enjoyable.
18. Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku
As a departure from the previous mentions on this list, Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku puts you in the shoes of one of the show’s main protagonist, Goku, as you venture through this action adventure RPG closely following the animated show’s Saiyan Saga storyline.
The Legacy of Goku is the perfect DBZ game to sink your teeth into if you’re new to the franchise or a seasoned fan, due to the game’s pick-up-and-play accessibility, ease of control, and linear quest.
While Legacy of Goku draws similarities to Capcom’s acclaimed Breath of Fire II, devout RPG players will criticize the game for its scarcity of depth. The main quest is a mere five hours long, and gameplay lacks any form of challenge for veterans of the genre. It’s linear journey also limits any sense of journey you would except from a typical RPG.
17. Dragon Ball: Raging Blast
While the game can be praised for its ability to capture the look and feel of Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball: Raging Blast is all spectacle and no substance.
Sure, playing online adds a complexity to the gameplay as you pit your skills against human-controlled fighters, and the varied gameplay modes adds great content to the gameplay, but for a fight game, combat mechanics are everything.
From its unresponsive combat to the predictability of button-mashing, the gameplay feels rather shallow and disengaging. There’s also the massive camera issues, a jarring experience that hinders the immersive experience of the game.
Certainly for serious DBZ fans, there’s joy to be had in Raging Blast, but for fans of the fight genre and everyone in between, this is a definitive miss.
16. Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu
Attempting to do something different from the generic fighter or RPG-style gameplays, Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu is the first card battle entry in our list. A digital interpretation of the old card game War, Harukanaru Densetsu offers a simple card battle system in an attempt to appeal to the masses, while drawing strength from the franchise’s global name.
However, unless you’re a die-hard Yu-Gi-Oh! fan, the appeal of a card battle video game is limited, despite the game propping the gameplay against the storied sagas of the animated series.
The simplification of the game also extends to its graphics. The game has large, well-illustrated portraits, but in-game animations are lacking, making the gameplay feel rather static and not at all engaging. While Harukanaru Densetsu should be praised for trying something different, the lack of tactical challenge you would find in most card battle games makes this game an inevitable miss.
15. Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi
One of the biggest challenges of distilling the essence of Dragon Ball Z’s phenomenal success is finding the right balance of mechanics and technology to adapt Akira Toriyama’s vision into games. Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi is a faithful rendition of this vision, a gorgeous offering of his signature manga art style emulated into a three dimensional interactive art form.
Having said that, Ultimate Tenkaichi is a beautifully flawed game. Combat may be heated, but the mechanics are far too shallow to be immersive. A quick press of a button unleashes a fighter’s signature move and attacks come in two standard formats – quick and hard.
It may also feature one of the largest character libraries in any DBZ game – 44 fighters in all – but all these characters function the same. Despite these failings, Ultimate Tenkaichi’s has engaging depth which is guaranteed to draw in any fan of the animated series.
14. Dragon Ball Z: Sagas
Dragon Ball Z: Sagas was an ambitious project meant to take Dragon Ball Z games into a bright, new direction. Up until this point, DBZ games have been a mix of fighting games and RPGs, though always with numerous restrictions. Sagas sought to change that with a sandbox brawler offering, but instead created one of the most abysmal Dragon Ball Z experiences out there.
The whole game feels like a grevious chore, the insipid AI takes out any challenge to the combat, controls are far from intuitive, the fighters you get to play are lethargic and unresponsive, and camera issues plague the immersive experience you would want to derive from such a sandbox adventure.
You will also have to contend with super low-resolution environmental textures and bland designs throughout the game. While the goal of Sagas was to take the franchise to new directions, it still hasn’t found its way.
13. Dragon Ball Fusions
As one of the more recent releases in Dragon Ball Z’s library, Dragon Ball Fusions puts you in control of your very own player-made character, as you and your pal search for the universe’s most sacred artifacts – the Dragon Balls – to earn the right to wish for one of the biggest tournaments the Dragon Ball universe has ever seen.
Featuring elements from battle tournaments and sandbox exploration, Fusions incorporates them both beautifully with a balance of overworld travels to gain companions for the upcoming tournament and battles.
With real-time elements and the titular fusion system, Fusions can best be described as a love letter to the franchise, infusing one of the animated series most beloved characteristics: its sense of humour. This isn’t a perfect game by any means – the combat gets repetitive, much like the side quests, and the progression systems lacks depth and engagement, but its still a fun experience overall.
12. Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2
Featuring one of the more unique Dragon Ball Z OVAs in recent years, Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 picks up where Dragon Ball: Raging Blast left off, and succeeds where Raging Blast failed.
Much like Raging Blast, Raging Blast 2 is a visual feast – an impressive tribute to the look and feel of Dragon Ball Z’s aesthetic. While the game can be commended as fan service to fans of the animated show, it’s far from perfect.
Combat is frustrating and overly complicated, with a steep learning curve for even the most seasoned fight game enthusiast, though the new addition of the raging soul system adds significant depth to the battle mechanics.
Character differences are merely cosmetic, making the 90-fighter roster feel like one singular identity. For those looking for great fan service, your journey ends here, but for those looking for a serious fighting game, sadly, you’re journey continues on.
11. Dragon Ball Z: Buu’s Fury
The third and final entry to the Legacy of Goku series, Dragon Ball Z: Buu’s Fury puts you back into shoes of the venerable cast of Z fighters, as you traverse through the action-packed Buu saga neatly packaged and presented in a captivating adventure role-playing game.
While there bugs presented in The Legacy of Goku still persists in Buu’s Fury, such as its whirlwind main quest – just shy of ten hours if you decide to complete all the side quests along the way. It also has unbalanced gameplay that leans more towards simplistic combat and ease of difficulty, and linear environments.
However, despite all of this, Buu’s Fury is an enjoyable experience thanks in part to distinct chapters of the game making it feel immersively episodic, the more responsive combat controls, and the addition of multiplayer, which adds competitive depth missing from previous iterations in the series.
10. Dragon Ball XenoVerse
Dragon Ball XenoVerse takes the best elements of a role-playing game and the its animated series to combine them into a fun, little package. There’s XenoVerse’s unique story that delivers a compelling narrative set against alternate realities of the franchise’s storied sagas. Satisfying combat combines impressive offensive mechanics, which tops off with devastating bursts of energy and finishing moves.
However, what makes XenoVerse really stand out is the character creation, giving you the opportunity to play as your own unique Z fighter. Much like any RPG, your created persona levels up as your progress throughout the story, giving your fighter new stats, equipment, and moves, as you fight alongside your favorite Z warriors.
XenoVerse’s rich content and visual appeal makes it a great interactive cinematic masterpiece for fans of the franchise and role-playing games.
9. Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors
While there isn’t much to praise about Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors, there also isn’t much to complain about. It’s 2D tournament fighting style has lent the game great success, and the game beautifully renders the look and feel of the TV show for our consoles.
It may have a limited character roster– with only 13 playable fighters– but each handles uniquely, and the battle mechanics perfectly balance button-mashing with sophisticated control. The dynamic camera control adds visual illusion to a limited background, while the artwork pays homage to Toriyama’s art style. The AI is also decent, creating challenging matches, offering great replay value, and extending the game’s longevity way past its prime.
For anyone looking for a quick pick-up-and-play DBZ game with depth and complexity, Supersonic Warriors is the perfect video game to whittle the hours away with.
8. Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden
The Dragon Ball Z: Butoden series dates all the way back to the Super Famicom days, but North American fans of the series have only experienced two dismal U.S. releases of the Butoden series – Ultimate Battle 22 and Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout. That is, until the release of Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden.
As a 2D sprite-based brawler, Extreme Butoden’s fight mechanics draws comparisons from successful franchises like Super Smash Bros. in which characters feature the same controls but produce unique moves according to the fighter.
Battles also draw inspiration from another similar fight game series — Marvel vs. Capcom — pitting you against teams of interchangeable characters complete with assist fighters. The game’s combat features a layer of depth, with several combo types to master, and the inclusion of signature moves keeps each fighter feeling significantly different.
Reminiscent of arcade fight games of old, this is a game worth adding to your collection.
7. Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2
Similar to Extreme Butoden, Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2 takes the spirit of 2D arcade style fighting games, drawing inspiration from games like Street Fighter Alpha 3, and amplifying it with your favorite Z warriors.
There’s an extensive range of game modes to select from and the gameplay mechanics are solid, with a ton of fast-paced combos and signature finishing moves, though you can still get far with a little button-mashing.
Additionally, the colorful 2D sprites battle it out against visually appealing 3D backdrops. In-game camera control also adds cinematic flare to your gameplay while the audio performance adds excitement to the fights.
Building on the success of its predecessor, Supersonic Warriors 2 offers a range of improvements in combat and visuals to satisfying a varied audience – from die-hard fans of the animated series to members of the fight game community.
6. Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit
Despite only having a shallow 21-fighter roster, at its core Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit displays profound depth and complexity while still maintaining a sense of accessibility, making it an approachable game for new gamers and veterans alike.
The battle mechanics are one of the game’s strongest points, steering away from the commonplace button-mashing found in most Dragon Ball Z games, and rewarding you for skill and strategically timed attacks.
Burst Limit also happened to be the most visually stunning DBZ game at the time of its release, creating a truly immersive experience for any fan of the franchise. With over 50-plus battles awaiting gamers, this is a captivating entry into the DBZ franchise, sure to be enjoyed by Dragon Ball Z fans and fight game enthusiasts.
5. Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II
Perhaps the most impressive entry of the three accounts within the Legacy of Goku series, Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II picks up where The Legacy of Goku left off– literally and figuratively– building on the brand into a far superior product.
The ability to control multiple characters, from Goku to Piccolo, is a nice aspect missing from the original game. Likewise, the The Legacy of Goku II isn’t as linear as the first, giving you ample opportunity to explore the 15 or so locations within the game.
Additionally, combat is more involved, with enemies offering up more of a challenge, especially when they attack in groups. Legacy of Goku II also expands massively on the original’s main quest, requiring approximately 20 hours to finish the main story, providing plenty of incentive to really immerse yourself in the gameplay.
4. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2
With nearly 10 Budokai and Shin Budokai fighting games already populating Dragon Ball Z’s expansive video game library– most being dismal entries to the beloved franchise– Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is an impressive inclusion to DBZ’s over saturated fight game market.
Departing from the conventional fight game format, Budokai Tenkaichi 2’s third-person perspective and free-roaming action delivers cinematic immersion as well as interactive exploration. There’s a wealth of fighters here – from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT.
However, where Budokai Tenkaichi 2 really shines is in its battle system. Building on the success of Budokai Tenkaichi, the game features new vanishing attacks and counters, and the battle controls are more intuitive than the original.
There’s up-close melee attacks, massive energy blasts, and interactive environmental damage, which all work together to create a compelling and captivating gameplay. Its strong production value, fan service, and immense hours of replayability makes this a rewarding DBZ game to play.
3. Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2
Any fan of Dragon Ball Z’s animated series has had latent dreams of participating in the vast universe of the franchise, participating in its most crucial battles alongside storied Z fighters like Goku and Vegeta. Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 does just that, and so much more…
As a vast improvement from the original XenoVerse, XenoVerse 2 still features the same extensive character creation mode as well as a wealth of new content. There’s a solid fight engine with impressively responsive controls, an intuitive button layout, tight camera controls, massive arenas to fight in, as well as a generously sized hub city to explore outside of battles.
Its stunning visuals and impressive cinematic cutscenes succeed in giving a truly authentic Dragon Ball Z experience that a fan of the franchise is sure not to miss.
2. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3
Improving on the already impressive effort of Budokai Tenkaichi 2, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 returns as a force of nature. It features the largest roster ever compiled for a Dragon Ball Z game– 161 characters in total– and delivers rich content worthy of multiple playthroughs. There’s also new day and night levels that enhance certain abilities under specific conditions.
Battle mechanics shine through here once again. The two-button system is simplistic enough to grasp, but deceptively hides the complexity of combos and its challenging learning curve.
Battles have been balanced from the previous game, adding new defensive counters that make combat more manageable and lend a more captivating immersive experience than the previous Budokai Tenkaichi games. The overall balanced experience gives a completed game feel – thoroughly polished and inclusive, giving you an awesome package to play through over and over again.
1. Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3
For those who aren’t fans of the franchise, it’s a daunting task to dive into the expansive video game universe of Dragon Ball Z. After all, there’s a lore within games that only encapsulates portions of the animated series, and too often, a licensed video game is limited by its current technological state and mechanics.
This is perhaps what makes Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 a refreshing take and perfect jump point for newcomers and fans alike.
Budokai 3 has implemented much of Budokai’s original successes – a deep combat system, a compelling story mode, improved visual mechanics, and an overall immersive gameplay experience.
It’s rare to find a near flawless game, but somehow Budokai 3 has struck the perfect balance between accessibility and layered depth, creating a must-have game for fans of the fighting genre – Dragon Ball Z fan or not.
Do you disagree? What’s your favorite Dragon Ball Z game? Let us know in the comment section!
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