• Publisher: Atari
  • Release Date: Nov 16, 2004

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 32
  2. Negative: 2 out of 32
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  1. It's a licensed game that perfectly captured the property while still being fun and accessible.
  2. 90
    The weak Story mode is the only blemish on what's otherwise the best DBZ game yet.
  3. AceGamez
    Oozes superiority, quality, class and eminence; it's a cut above the rest, taking the fighting genre and painting it red.
  4. 90
    The sounds and fast paced action makes this game feels like the actual animated series.
  5. It's pretty darned fun once you get used to the quirks.
  6. Budokai 3 will rev your engine if you're willing to forgive it for its colourful, crazy, and unserious premise.
  7. The game's visuals are incredibly true to the source material. The character models, once again in the cel-shaded nature, are excellent with believable and fluid animations backing up their every move.
  8. The game has great sound work overall with most of the US voice cast lending their talent to the game for that extra air of Dragon Ball authenticity.
  9. Simply put, if you are a Dragon Ball Z fan, or know someone who is, get this game. It’s the title they’ve been waiting for, for 10 plus years now.
  10. The game is very good in its own right, and for DBZ fans this is a must have title.
  11. This game hits the nail on the head in so many ways it really is hard to nitpick about the small shortcomings such as no in-game cut scenes or free flight. If you are a DBZ fan, don't rent this game. Buy it right now.
  12. It’s not just for Dragon Ball Z fans any more.
  13. This is far and away the best Dragon Ball Z game around, and it's a must-have for DBZ fans. However, the action is also so fast-paced and viscerally satisfying that it can genuinely appeal even to those otherwise uninterested in Dragon Ball Z.
  14. A lot better of a fighting game than the previous two entries into the fighting world. While this game is not enough to go up against the "big boys" of fighting games, it is a solid entry.
  15. 80
    It's hard to find any major faults with Budokai 3. With 40 characters from Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT, the Saiyan Overdrive System, and an ambitious new story mode, I'm absolutely blown away by this game. If you're a DBZ fan like me, there's no reason to think you won't be too.
  16. 80
    The game is extremely fast.
  17. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    The kind of game Dragon Ball fans can enjoy without feeling guilty. [Jan 2005, p.110]
  18. 80
    Easily the most forward-thinking DBZ title we've seen. It captures the speed and style of the show and wraps it into a very playable presentation with fantastic character designs.
  19. 80
    A surprisingly addictive little fighting game that, while not overly technical, has an astonishing amount of depth and strategy to it.
  20. From fantastic special effects to authentic (though recycled) voices/music from the TV show, and from new useful moves (teleportation!) to a keen balance between overkill and authenticity to its source material in the graphics, this is it.
  21. 80
    Even gamers who don't know Gohan from any other spiky-haired anime kid will smell what Budokai 3 is cooking.
  22. The game may not have a huge amount of depth, but its clear a great deal of care and attention has gone in to making it as polished and as faithful to the subject matter as possible, from the colourful voiced menus to the dazzling special effects and cinematic camera cuts.
  23. Timing is a very definite requirement of play, perhaps more so than who's got the biggest strike and without practice you'll almost certainly have no idea why what happened just did.
  24. The best DBZ game yet? Definitely. Likely to appeal if you don't know what Potaro earrings do or who Gogeta is? Probably not. [GamesMaster]
  25. After all is said and done this is the best Budokai to date however there are still two or three major flaws preventing Budokai 3 from being a truly great game.
  26. TotalGames.net
    Combat is a fluid, nippy affair more in keeping with 2D fighters like Guilty Gear than Tekken and includes a fine array of attacks that can be learnt and built on.
  27. GMR Magazine
    It's the closest any DBZ game has ever come to replicating the insane airborne fights from the show. [Jan 2005, p.114]
  28. PSM Magazine
    Little more than fight after fight of stilted controls, repeated animations, and frustrating difficulty. [Jan 2005, p.70]
  29. Game Informer
    It's simplistic, clumsy, unresponsive, and boring, even with the improvements over last year's entry. [Jan 2005, p.122]
  30. Play Magazine
    Far and away the best game in the series, but unfortunately, the creators have still neglected to address the lackluster fighting at the core. [Jan 2005, p.68]
  31. You can only ride on the license for so long before things get stale, and that's exactly what's happened here. If you loved the first two, you'll still probably love this one, but when do fighting game fans get to have fun with a DBZ game?
  32. The graphics are terrible. They tried way too hard to make the people look as they do in the animated series, but the result is that it all looks pretty flat. Even the first Budokai had more depth. People tell me that I judge the game too much by the graphics. I agree; but this isn’t right. Seriously.

Awards & Rankings

#21 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2004
#9 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2004
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 221 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 221
  1. Jul 5, 2012
    This game was the best game for fighting ever! I love it and i've played it so much that the disk is too scratched up now lol so now I gottaThis game was the best game for fighting ever! I love it and i've played it so much that the disk is too scratched up now lol so now I gotta buy another one! =D Full Review »
  2. CurtisS.
    Sep 13, 2005
    The game was the sh.t and is the coolest.
  3. May 10, 2012
    Let me start off by saying that Dragon Ball is my favorite anime/manga, and for that matter fictitious series of all time. So when a new DBZLet me start off by saying that Dragon Ball is my favorite anime/manga, and for that matter fictitious series of all time. So when a new DBZ game is announced you can be sure I would check it out. And as expected, this doesn't disappoint. The improved setups into juggles (the main meat of the combos) coupled with canceling charged attacks (non-Capsule and Capsule alike) unlocks a myriad of ways to keep you opponent of the ground. The ability to sway and teleport for defensive purposes is also a nice introduction and keeps the battle fast-paced and entertaining. The new abilities of Dragon Rush and Hyper Mode are easy to use and very pleasing to the eye and awesome. The visuals when doling out an Ultimate or a Dragon Rush is nothing short of amazing. All in all, gameplay is vastly improved. Story Mode this time, known as Dragon Universe, is different from the previous 2 entries, in that you follow a character's "life" so to speak throughout their entire journey in Dragon Ball Z. You choose a character from the start and fight all the battles he fought during Z while traversing the Dragon Ball world (looking for Zeni, Capsules, and POI's). The burst flying during world travel is especially cool (in particular, when you do Vegeta's DU and are in control of Majin Vegeta). However, the fights are not sequential since you only control one character. If I choose Goku, and win my fight with Captain Ginyu, I am jumping straight to Goku's next fight against Frieza. I wouldn't have the opportunity to fight Frieza as either Vegeta, Piccolo, Krillin or Gohan. Their fights are accessible in their respective DU's though. As you play through the DU, you gain EXP points to spend on attributes like health, ki, special arts etc. all which increase. For each EXP, you go one level up; this continues until Lvl 99. Other than that, the standard World Tournament and Vs. modes return to occupy one. All in all, one of my favorite games ever. Full Review »