The sequel to the amazingly popular (and difficult to pronounce) Shin Budokai, Dragonball Z: Shin Budokai 2, shovels more of the same down the throats and into the stomachs of DBZ fans everywhere. And while more of the same may seem a little on the underwhelming side, the game is a solid entry into a category in which the PSP is slightly weak: the fighting genre. With Tekken: Dark Resurrection standing head, shoulder, elbow and hips above the rest of the competition, Budokai 2 at least gets up to the knees of the reigning champion.
If you’re new to the world of the seven Dragonballs, Goku, Cell and all their crazy buddies, Dragonball Z: Shin Budokai 2 (henceforth referred to as the slightly easier to type DBS SB2) can be a little daunting.
The menu screen presents a multitude of options, from Another Road (story mode), to Arcade, Z Trial, Network Battle and Practice options. Most of these options are straightforward – Practice Mode is where you practice, get it? – but the main components of the single player game are to be found in the epic Another Road and the challenging Z Trial parts.
Within Another Road, players choose a character and attempt to make their way through a chapter-based storyline. A huge amount of simple cut scenes, with characters voiced by their Anime counterparts, illuminate the overly-complex individual storylines to an extent and drive the narrative forward through the various situations you may encounter. Each storyline branches at particular points, leading players to completely different endings and giving them the dubious honour of being responsible for destroying the universe. Moving through the story mode unlocks abilities and extra DBZ favourites including alternate, future and teen versions of the most popular characters. Customizing your chosen Dragonballer is the name of the game for anyone serious about powering through the mammoth story mode.
As you fight through various levels, you earn booster cards, items and special little things called Zenie points (yeah I have no idea what Zenies are either), which can be used to buy additional booster cards and further improve on your puny attributes.
The other main mode presented in DBZ SB2 is the Z Trail - basically a time trial, survival and challenge mode. Each mode tests different aspects of players’ skills and rewards them accordingly. Graphically the game is a great representation of the Anime classic. Goku, Gohan and Trunks are perfect renditions of their cartoon counterparts and have just enough individuality to appeal to more casual fans. Because of their size, the fighting arenas can be a little on the blasé side as the focus is more about the arena depth than superficial characteristics.
For Dragonball Z fans, this game is a godsend. A huge amount of characters and a ridiculously large game make for an entertaining and thumb-battering good time. For everyone else out there, the game may be a little difficult to get into but is well worth the effort, with tons to do and an easy control system rewarding even the most left-thumbed of players.