The Dragon Ball series has been going strong since Goku first appeared in 1984. Despite multiple finales and “last” chapters, new Dragon Ball adventures are appearing left and right. The same goes for the long history of Dragon Ball games. After dozens of digital adaptations, some of the best Dragon Ball games are still out there. Out of all those many releases, which are truly the best game adaptations of Akira Toriyama’s series?
After searching through the history books, consulting with Kami, and ignoring many bad games, we’ve got our answer. These six titles are the best Dragon Ball games ever, in no particular order. These games wonderfully capture the spirit of Goku, Vegeta, Trunks, and all the rest no matter the genre. Let’s begin with what many feel is the greatest Dragon Ball Z game of all time.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3
The Budokai series was one of the top two hits during the height of Dragon Ball Z’s North American popularity. The third entry in the 2D fighting series is from the same folks as Street Fighter IV, and you can tell by how well the combat works. The well-balanced one-on-one fights make each character in its massive roster a contender, as does the high level of customizability. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 also introduced many great new modes and updates, including a dedicated campaign, Super Saiyan 4, fusions, and beam struggles. Subsequent DBZ fighters have better graphics, but few are as rich in features and gameplay as Budokai 3.
Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II
Fighting games are a great fit for Dragon Ball, but it’s not the only genre the series can work in. Just look at the Game Boy Advance title from 2004. Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II is an action-RPG that follows the epic Cell Saga from the first appearance of Future Trunks all the may to Gohan’s triumphant Kamehameha Wave. The intense combat is still there, and you’re the space and time to experience more of Dragon Ball’s world. The sprite designs of Akira Toriyama’s artwork is also entirely adorable, bringing some much-needed cuteness to a series frequently focused on fighters screaming.
Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans
Monolith Soft is famous for popular RPGs franchises like Xenosaga and Xenoblade. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the developers’ approach to Dragon Ball would also result in an awesome role-playing game. Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans is a Nintendo DS RPG that retold both the Piccolo Jr. Saga and the Saiyan Saga one turn at a time. The game divides the story into chapters just as the anime and manga did, including all the major characters and events. Sure, some fans disliked the exclusion of characters beyond the first major storyline of DBZ, but the devs probably wanted to leave space for the eventual sequel. Sadly, that sequel never materialized.
Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure
The Dragon Ball series is so flexible that it succeeds at many genres beyond fighting. Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure retells the earliest Goku adventures as an action-packed side-scroller. You’ll battle the Red Ribbon Army, meet Bulma for the first time, battle Jackie Chun and more all in one epic Game Boy Advance title. And because Dimps developed it (just like the Budokai series), Advanced Adventure also works as a great 2D fighting game. Many in America may have missed it since the pre-DBZ anime wasn’t super popular, so search Advanced Adventure out on eBay and give it the love it deserves.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3
Among Dragon Ball fans, there are fewer heated arguments than comparing Budokai 3 to Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3. It’s easy to see why some fans prefer the former. Budokai Tenkaichi 3 has a titanic roster, a very involved story mode, shinier visuals, and seriously, the 161 characters in its roster is unprecedented. There are so many unlockables in Budokai Tenkaichi 3 that even solo you’ll be playing this game for hours on end to get everything. Even with all the great Dragon Ball games that we’ve seen since 2008, there’s a reason so many DBZ fans still keep returning to Budokai Tenkaichi 3.
Will the recently released Dragon Ball: Xenoverse 2 be good enough to warrant a spot on this list? We’ll just wait and see. Until then, check out more of Fandom’s great Dragon Ball content.