Top 10 Dragon Ball Z Games [Best Recommendations]

This might come as a bit of a shock, but Dragon Ball Z is pretty popular. Who knew, right? As with most anime shows that have proved profitable, a game or two set within that universe have been released. As a fan of both mediums, it is always exciting when these two separate worlds fuse, hopefully creating something incredible and rewarding.

If this were a Top 10 One Piece or Naruto list, then it would be pretty straight forward. That would practically mean that every major game ever released would be included. Dragon Ball Z is slightly different, with well over 50 licensed titles spread across three decades to pick and choose from.

With such a massive collection, someone's personal favorite could easily miss out. It does not mean that it was not great or does not hold up, but just that a line had to be drawn somewhere.

10. Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors

  • System: Game Boy Color
  • Publishers: Banpresto (JP), Infogrames (NA, EU), Bandai (EU)
  • Developer: Banpresto
  • Release Dates: June 30, 2002 (EU), August 9, 2002 (JP), November, 2002 (NA)

When someone thinks of Dragon Ball Z games, the most likely of image to pop up in their head would be of a fast paced brawler: two characters beating each other to death in a large arena. On the other hand, a turn-based RPG seems almost out of place. Yet, here we are with Legendary Super Warriors starting off this countdown; a turn-based RPG released on Nintendo's Game Boy Color.

So, how does this work? Well, the main gameplay mechanic centers around three types of status cards: attacks, techniques, and support items. Battles are one vs one, with each character having a series of cards assigned to them, which determine what action can be performed within their turn. This would include fan favorite attacks like the Kamehameha, which would require some build up to perform. With 125 in-game cards, there is actually an impressive amount of content here. The story mode even goes through all the three main sagas in the series.

Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors is worth trying just because there really isn't anything truly like it for fans. It is an addictive experience, one that suited the handheld console perfectly.

9. Dragon Ball: Xenoverse 2

  • Systems: PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developer: Dimps
  • Release Dates: October 25, 2016 (NA), October 28, 2016 (EU), November 2, 2016 (JP)

The latest entries into the Dragon Ball franchise, both Xenoverse games delivered the kick in the ass that was desperately needed by the series. For most of the 7th generation, Z fans were left kind of wanting. Although games like Raging Blast 2 managed to deliver a robust combat system, they struggled to create an identity of their own. Eventually, each new release started to feel completely unnecessary. This culminated in Battle of Z, which was torn apart by critics and fans.

From that disappointment, Xenoverse rose up and gave us something to get excited about. With ties to Dragon Ball Online, the main selling point was the ability to create your own character and the new storyline, which was designed specifically for the game. Although Xenoverse 2 felt like a rehash of the first title, with most of the same missions, it did tighten up the gameplay considerably, allowing for a smoother experience.

Boasting a decent sized cast, with a ton of unlockable content, fans can easily spend hours trying to find the absolutely perfect skills and attacks to create the ultimate warrior.

8. Dragon Ball Online

  • System: PC
  • Publishers: CJ Internet Corporation (KOR), Bandai Namco (JP)
  • Developers: NTL Inc. (KOR), Shanda Games (CH), Bird Studio (JP)
  • Release Dates: February 5, 2010 (KOR), June 15, 2011 (TWN)

Xenoverse's past and future, Dragon Ball Online is currently in pre-alpha and is scheduled for a re-release in the near future. An MMO set over 200 years after the events of Z, players create their own character; one who will serve as a time-patroller. Like Xenoverse, the majority of the story missions are scattered across moments from the Dragon Ball Z timeline. As this is also an MMO, a vast amount of time is spent performing kill or fetch quests.

The gameplay is standard fare for this type of genre;,taking a point-and-click approach to the combat. Skills are assigned to number keys, allowing special moves to be performed. Although the battles lack the pace and movement associated with the anime series, the graphics and special skills do suit the license. As it has a genuinely open world, compared to Xenoverse's hub world, Dragon Ball Online does feel big and epic.

The original Online was not really that popular in the West, although it did have a dedicated English fan-base. With the pending re-release, it is at least worth a try.

7. Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury

  • Platform: Game Boy Advance
  • Publisher: Atari
  • Developer: Webfoot Technologies
  • Release Date: September 14, 2004

Split into 12 chapters, Buu's Fury begins from the Great Saiyaman arc until the end of Dragon Ball Z. Keeping nearly all of the gameplay mechanics of the fantastic Legacy of Goku II, this RPG brawler is a fun romp through the series' most chaotic arc. There are 10 playable characters in all, although some like Videl and Vegito are only available for a one-off chapter; and the movies, Broly - Second Coming, and Fusion Reborn, are also covered.

What makes Buu's Fury a slight step down from its predecessor is just how easy it is. None of the chapters offer any real challenge, which can lead to some monotony creeping in after a while. The gameplay does feel a bit more responsive, but the removal of special melee attacks is also disappointing. Saying that, this is still a really fun game to play, one that re-creates the events of the series respectfully and efficiently.

6. Dragon Ball Fusions

  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco
  • Developer: Ganbarion
  • Release Dates: August 4, 2016 (JP), November, 22, 2016 (USA), February 17, 2017 (EU)

The ultimate fanservice game; Fusions has one of the most enticing gimmicks in Dragon Ball history – the ability to fuse multiple characters together to create that one ultimate warrior. Following a completely original storyline; once again, players get to create their own character before heading off into the very colorful recreation of the Z universe.

Fusions is an RPG, with battles taking place within a 2D battle arena. Teams can consist of up to five characters, with positioning playing a crucial role in how successful a fight is. Each attack is met with a cutscene, and within these areas, the option to fuse two characters together is born. This is not limited to fusions we have seen in the show, as most combinations can be tried and tested. That is not even the real kicker, as a special fusion can be done to combine all five characters into one super awesome warrior.

Fusions is also a gorgeous game, especially on a handheld platform, and its plot takes a considerably more comedic tone – something that is quite rare for Dragon Ball games.

5. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3

  • System: PlayStation 2
  • Publishers: Atari (US, EU, AU), Bandai (JP)
  • Developer: Dimps
  • Release Dates: November 16, 2004 (NA), December 3, 2004 (EU), November 10, 2005 (JP)

Building on the solid foundation set by the previous two Budokai titles, Budokai 3 is a cell-shaded fighting game with a really robust story mode, and an impressive cast of characters that would need to be unlocked. The combat mechanics have a lot of depth, with a steep learning curve, and most playable characters do feel unique.

The Dragon Universe mode, Budokai 3's story mode, has 11 playable characters; each with their own set of missions and narratives. After one is selected, players travel across a huge map, to re-create fights from the main four Dragon Ball Z arcs. Although the first playthrough mostly follows the anime, re-playing that character's story can lead to a few changes – creating one of the most replayable modes in the franchise's history.

Budokai 3 is easily the best 2D fighting game with the Dragon Ball License, and it efficiently utilizes that game style to create a competitive experience.

4. Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors

  • System: GBA
  • Publishers: Bandai (JP, EU), Atari (US)
  • Developers: Arc System Works, Cavia
  • Release Dates: March 26, 2004 (JP), June 22, 2004 (USA), August 27, 2004 (EU)

As this list shows, Dragon Ball Z has proven to be a fruitful license for handheld games. Before the release of Supersonic Warriors, there had yet to be a decent portable fighting game, with the best titles following a more RPG formula. This changed in 2004, with the release of Arc System Works' game for the Game Boy Advance.

Although the cast is rather small compared to most console releases, with only 13 playable characters, Supersonic Warriors more than makes up for it by delivering a fantastic story mode. Each character has their own scenario to play through, that largely varies from the anime, and three different levels to unlock. For example, Goku would have his normal form, Super Saiyan, and Super Saiyan 2.

The combat is straightforward but satisfying; with a strong and weak melee attack, chargeable KI Blasts and a few special fan favorite moves. This might seem like standard fare, but the responsiveness of the gameplay made it one of the best fighters on the GBA. The sequel is also great, but the original Supersonic Warriors provided an experience on the go that most fans did not believe was possible.

3. Legacy of Goku 2

  • Platform: Game Boy Advance
  • Publisher: Atari
  • Developer: Webfoot Technologies
  • Release Dates: June 17, 2003 (USA), August 1, 2003 (EU)

After the lackluster first Legacy of Goku, this sequel took the community by surprise. Not only did it manage to improve in every single way on the original, Legacy of Goku 2 demonstrated that the franchise did not need to focus exclusively on creating one vs one brawlers to succeed. Although there had been releases like Legendary Super Warriors, this GBA game received considerably more fanfare and is remembered fondly today.

An Action RPG set in a 2D environment, with a playable roster consisting of Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Trunks, and Piccolo; Legacy of Goku 2 covers the Android and Cell arcs. Each character can be leveled up, providing stats boosts, and transformations can also be unlocked as the story progresses. While fighting an enemy, players can choose between a melee or energy attack, which would includes a few trademark moves for each hero.

This is one of the easiest games to just pick up and play. Besides the story mode, there are also side quests, which can lead to optional boss fights (like Cooler).

2. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3

  • Platforms: PlayStation 2, WII
  • Publishers: Namco Bandai (JP, EU), Atari (US)
  • Developer: Spike
  • Release Dates: October 4, 2007 (JP), November 9, 2007 (EU), November 13, 2007 (US)

Now THAT is a roster. With 161 playable characters, Budokai Tenkaichi 3 has the second largest selection of playable characters in gaming history; right after Tobal 2 (with 200 to choose from). Honestly, if there's​ someone that ever made an appearance in a Dragon Ball episode, out of any of the shows or movies, they are most likely here and playable.

To make room for the gigantic selection, the story mode was trimmed down from the previous releases. Although it goes through all of the main arcs; including ones from the original series, GT, and the movies – some fights were dropped and it did end up being considerably shorter than the standard story mode for both the Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi series. This was not necessarily a bad thing, as it's not like we had not played through the same sagas a million times before, so the shift in focus towards the roster was welcome.

Mechanically, Tenkaichi 3 is free flowing and a joy to play through, with quite a few new combos being introduced. There is also the option of transforming into a Great Ape if fighting in a night time arena, which was never done before.

1. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2

  • Platforms: PlayStation 2, WII
  • Publishers: Namco Bandai (JP, EU), Atari (US)
  • Developer: Spike
  • Release Dates: October 5, 2006 (JP), November 3, 2006 (EU), November 5, 2006 (US)

It is really a toss up between Budokai Tenkaichi 2 and its sequel, with both being worthwhile titles and the best Dragon Ball Z has ever offered. Deciding which one is better would depend on whether the player prefers a more in-depth story mode or a bigger roster. Tenkaichi 2 still has a fantastic set of playable characters, with at least 129 available in all versions; taken from Dragon Ball Z, GT, and the movies.

Unlike the follow-up, Spike did not have to cut down on the story mode here. Dragon Adventure, which is a spiritual successor to Budokai 3's Dragon Universe, can easily take over 40 hours to beat. After a character is chosen, players can travel across a large map searching for enemies, skill capsules, and dragon balls. The results of a fight can also change the trajectory the story takes, adding an element of replayability.

Not needing to compromise on game modes, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 provides the perfect blend of story, smooth gameplay, and a seemingly never-ending stream of unlockables. It is a must play, not only for fans of the franchise but gamers in general.

Final Thoughts

In the future, we are likely to see a few dozen more games with the Dragon Ball name attached to them. As with any license, some will be downright terrible, but a select few will be able to challenge the games listed above. Possibly even pushing one or two out of the top 10. With the resurgence the anime has seen due to Super, it is a fantastic time to be a Dragon Ball fan.

Do you think there is any other must play Dragon Ball Z game that we should have included? Please let us know in the comments section below.

by Mark Sammut