Ahh, Dragon Ball Z. A show where you have more screaming that a heavy metal concert and more angst than a highschool. The popular multimedia series is still going strong today.
The manga series ran publication in the mid 1980s and the anime began in 1989. Since then the world has fallen in love with its over the top stories.
Over the years, the shonen series has also inspired some video games. Well, many video games actually. From the SNES to modern consoles, we've had a healthy amount of titles. Of course, we have the new Dragon Ball FighterZ due in 2018. Which looks amazing by the way.
So we figured why not have a Dragon Ball Z game tier list? So grab a drink friends and enjoy our list -- and if you don't want all the fluff between all the slides, you can find the list in full in the last slide here.
So for our list we'll separate the titles by their respective decade. So as the series ended in Japan. It was the start of anime series in the West. It was also the start of game flood for the west. It was a little barren however.
Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension. Released in 1996 for the Super Famicom. Now if you were in the import scene, you knew about this game. This game even by today's standards this is one of the best titles. It played as a well-tuned traditional fighter. The roster focused on 8 characters. So more detail was provided to their sprites, animation, stage design, music, and etc. Best game of the 1990s? -- Yep, it's easily in the top 5.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout. Released in 1997 for the PlayStation, the title was a 3D fighter. It was one of the first fully 3D games for the franchise. Now, this game should be something you should pass on. The roster, although packed, felt very phoned in. The game play was mediocre at best and it looked unappealing. It belongs around the bottom of the barrel, untouched.
2000s Part 1 Consoles (2000-2004)
So the 2000s blew up with Dragon Ball Z games everywhere. Now because of all these games we'll separate the 2000s titles by consoles and handhelds. So we'll mull over games from 2000-2004.
The first game, Dragon Ball Z Budokai, was released in 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2. This is where the 3D games take a turn for the better. We could freely move (and fly!) around arenas and fight like a traditional fighter as well. The game looked pretty good and story wise it went all the way to the end of the Cell Saga. Now, this game is pretty up there for DBZ games. In fact, it laid the blueprint for what works.
Then we have its sequel, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 which released in 2003. This was also a multiplaform title. Now, this is slight better than the first. It has a considerable sized cast. The story goes all the way to the end of the Majin Buu saga. This can be passed up as its above average along with the first Budokai.
Now, probably the best of the early 2000s is Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3. Released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2, this title is considered one of the best by fans. As a console exclusive, all resources were poured into making it the best possible. It featured a huge (understatement!) cast of characters from BDZ, and BDGT as well. The gameplay was also refined to its smoothest. The visuals were ok though. So what should a DBZ game be? This is the answer. A top 5 candidate.
The 2000s wasn't all that good for the Dragon Ball Z games. 2003 saw the release of Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 for the PlayStation. This game is bad, very bad. Visually it looked horrible as they used low resolution sprites. Gameplay was pretty mindless. You would fight in giant areas (empty spaces) and just hit the attack button. There was no strategy involved. It feels like the game was just thrown together. This has to be at the bottom of the list.
2000s Part 1 (Handheld titles from 2000-2004)
Now this is list won't be as detailed as the previous section. The reason being is that all these titles played nearly the same. They were hardly standout in any capacity. For the purposes of our tier list I have to rank them accordingly nonetheless.
The Nintendo GameBoy Advance saw a lot of releases within a few years. 2002 saw the releases of Dragon Ball Z: Collectible Card Game, Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors, and Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku.
2003 saw the releases of Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku 2 and Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu. 2004 saw the releases of Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors and Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury.
Now these games are what I like to call mediocre. Aside from Supersonic Warriors(seen above), you aren't missing much with these. They're average at best and mildly entertaining. They aren't horrible but passable.
2000s Part 2(2005-2009)
Around this time were getting into the era of the PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, & Xbox 360 offerings. Overall things were a mixed bag.
2005 saw the release of Dragon Ball Z Sagas for the Xbox. Avoid this game, its F tier. It was the only Xbox exclusive DBZ game and it left the wrong impression. Bland looking, gameplay was poor, and I could go on. Could the reason that it was developed by a Western studio be the reason? No, it was just bad.
Now things stayed a float with Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi. Yes that's quite the title. Like the name implies, Tenkaichi is an expansion of the Budokai series and played nearly the same. There were some notable changes where the gameplay was a bit more strategic. The roster was also bigger than the Budokai games. Tenkaichi released in 2005, Tenkaichi 2 released in 2006, and Tenkaichi 3 released in 2007 for all major consoles at the time.
These games are mainly average and barley reach the top ten except the third. Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi 3 should be the only one to play. No game to date had a roster so exhaustive. The gameplay was also pretty on point.
2006 saw the release of perhaps the best PlayStation 2 Dragon Ball Z game, Super Dragon Ball Z. Unlike the Budokai games, this focused more of delivering a traditional arcade fighting game experience. What this meant a small roster and more emphases on solid gameplay. So you could consider this to be the most Street Fighter like at the time. This is a top ten contender for sure. Side note: it's cool if you're forgetting what's going in the top ten. I'll have at the end for you.
2008 was the year for the modern consoles. Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 saw the release of Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit. This title was the first entirely HD title. The game had a small roster, very impressive visuals, and responsive gameplay. Unsurprisingly it played like Budokai 3 with some slight improvements. Plus the edition of online play was another bonus. This was also a personal favorite of mean as well.
Although 2008 was looking great, we got the last PlayStation 2 title Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World. So unlike the leeway made by the games mentioned before this took a backsteps. It was less linear but the gameplay designs came together poorly in execution. The game included quests and minigames unnecessarily. Fighting was very reminiscent of the Tenkaichi titles. You can leave this at the bottom. Although, it's not as bad as some game mentioned.
We end the early 2000s with Dragon Ball Z: Raging Blast. Released in 2009 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This title was another fully HD title. Now this is ultimately another pass. It did feature a few interesting turns with the story mode and what if characters. Sure, the game looks good and the online was solid. The downside however was the strange control scheme chosen. It often felt more difficult than necessary. Play at your own risk but trust me leave it unplayed.
2000s Part 2(2005-2009 Handhelds)
Ok, by now you should know the handheld titles aren't anything to write home about. Yet we still have to rank the rest of the early 2000s. This time we saw releases among the DS, PSP, and a few GBA remnants.
2005 saw the releases of Dragon Ball GT: Transformation for the GameBoy Advance and Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2 for the Nintendo DS. 2006 saw the release Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai for the PlayStation Portable. 2007 saw the Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu for the DS and Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai - Another Road for the PlayStation Portable.
All of these are forgettable and should be filed as painfully average. The only standout title is Another Road. It played like a nearly portable copy of Tenkaichi. Having a fighter with tons of characters, decent mechanics, and visuals on the go? This helped it stand above the others. Still average though
2009 saw the release of Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans for the DS. Now this was the best game on handhelds around this time. This was a well made RPG. It was the first in awhile too. It focused on one arc so the roster was small and time was spent of fleshing out the adventure. Fans found it fun and kids were content. Who knew a Dragon Ball Z RPG just worked? Thus this become a contender for our list.
Ahh, I've wanted to get closer to the present Dragon Ball Z games. The consoles have seen some good entries and bad ones too. Around this time we're shifting over to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, so there's growing pains unfortunately.
In 2010, Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi was released in 2011 for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Both of these titles suffered the same issues as most games. They were passable but barely. The story modes weren't special and gameplay awkward. Keep these below average.
Oh 2012 saw the release of Dragon Ball Z: For Kinect. This Xbox 360 exclusive should be avoided and is best used as a coaster. A month later, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai HD Collection was released. It played the same as the Budokai games but with better resolution. Eh, solidly average within our hierarchy.
2014 was the release of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z. This was released on the PS3, Xbox 306 and PS Vita. This game was really just made to ride the hype of the movie at the time. Nothing impressive to see here folks.
Just when things weren't looking up 2015 saw the release of Dragon Ball: Xenoverse. This was a Dragon Ball that read like a fan dream for the PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. A RPG adventure with a custom character? Time traveling and fights within all story arcs? The gameplay was also the culmination of what worked in the past. I mean what could be better?
Oh, I'll tell you what is better: its sequel. In 2016, Dragon Ball: Xenoverse 2 was released on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. With a shift to modern consoles, its visual were improved. The game was larger the the previous. Also the game has been constantly updated as the new Dragon Ball anime airs. All your favorite characters can be teachers of your created character. You can unlock them all and the story is massive. Of course its endless hours of fun. Online versus is also very solid.
As of now Xenoverse 2 is the best Dragon Ball Z game. No game comes close. If you don't own this game and like Dragon Ball Z, something is wrong friend.
2010s (2010-Current Handhelds)
Around this time the handheld titles also saw a resurgence as well. Though no were near the level of their console counter parts. These will barely rank anywhere or will they?
In 2010 the PSP received Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team. This game like many is carbon copy average. 2015 marked the release of Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden for the Nintendo 3DS. Now, Extreme Butoden received mixed reviews from players and critics. The overall gameplay is very responsive and fine tuned. Its no surprise it was developed by Arc System Works.
2016 saw the release of Dragon Ball Fusions for the Nintendo 3DS. Fusions plays like a miniature Xenoverse but also players to fuse anyone for battle. It's pretty fun for the what if scenarios.
Ok we went through a lot of games over the years. So you're probably wondering what does the top ten list look like right? So here goes.
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse
- Dragon Ball Z Hyper Dimensions
- Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3
- Super Dragon Ball Z
- Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans
- Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden
- Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3
- Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai Another Road.
Well that's our Dragon Ball Z game tier list friends. Were we wrong with our tier lists? Do we missing any games? Maybe you disagree? Let us know in the comments section!