Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot recently released on PS4, Xbox One and PC. It’s a fun adaptation of the anime series, but it’s too early to start ranking it among the best and worst Dragon Ball games ever made (although it’d certainly be nearing the best list rather than the worst).
There have been Dragon Ball games since the 1980s and this has led to plenty of terrible and excellent adaptations over the years.
Take a trip through memory lane by taking a look at the 10 best and 10 worst Dragon Ball games ever made below.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball GT: Final BoutThe first Dragon Ball game to be rendered in 3D was a horrible one. Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout is a gigantic mess. Not only does its English name make little sense as the title isn't limited to Dragon Ball GT characters (the Japanese title is just Dragon Ball: Final Bout) but the combat is shallow and there are barely any modes to play. It does hold the distinction of being the first Dragon Ball game released in English with the actual license intact, though. So, some good did come of the 1997 release even if it isn't worth revisiting for any reason whatsoever.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball GT: TransformationApparently, it was just time for Webfoot Technologies to put out a less than stellar title as they were fresh off developing two of the best Dragon Ball games ever made when they released Dragon Ball GT: Transformation. Unlike their action RPGs, Transformation was a sidescrolling beat 'em up that retold two of Dragon Ball GT's story arcs. It wasn't a bad idea, but the execution left a lot to be desired as there wasn't much depth to the gameplay. While not the worst title on the list, it's completely forgettable and just a non-spectacular title in every aspect.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: For KinectThere are some titles that you just know are going to be a disaster before they even released. Sadly, Dragon Ball Z: For Kinect is one of them. This first-person fighting game is built around replicating the movements of Goku and other characters. However, this just turns the fighting into a monotonous and boring slog of doing the same motions repeatedly. It didn't help that the motion sensing didn't always read the player's movements correctly, which added even more annoyance on the user's end. In 2020, it's really only good for a few laughs as players wonder why this was ever a good idea to release.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru DensetsuThere are quite a few Dragon Ball games that are based upon using cards to play out battles (including a pretty fun one for the WonderSwan Color), but Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu is on the low end of them. Battles essentially feel random and the difficulty was so low that there was never any challenge in playing. Players could essentially win without looking at the screen and that isn't the sign of a well-balanced card game. The more recent Super Dragon Ball Heroes World Mission is a much better spin on this formula.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: Infinite WorldWhile it didn't have the Budokai name attached to it, Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World was essentially yet another fighting game in that same vein. The only new things it had to offer fans were a few characters, a forgettable story mode and some awful mini games. This wasn't a step forward but rather a regression.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: SagasThe idea behind Dragon Ball Z: Sagas was a pretty good one. Rather than delivering yet another fighting game, it provided a 3D action-adventure that starred a number of different characters ranging from the legendary Super Saiyan Broly to Goku. However, the ideas was poorly pulled off and the gameplay was extremely clunky and players had to venture around drab 3D landscapes. It did a poor job of capturing the action that made the show so memorable.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: TaiketsuEasily the worst Dragon Ball game by Webfoot Technologies is Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu. It wasn't a great idea to try to develop a fighting game for a system with only two face buttons and players were left with an unpolished game with little depth. Considering how many solid fighting games have been made based upon the series there is zero reason to ever check it out unless you just want to have a laugh at how bad the title's hideous sprites are.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of GokuWhile its sequel and spiritual successor in Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury were excellent action RPGs for the Game Boy Advance, the same can't be said for the original The Legacy of Goku. Combat was stiff and unenjoyable, it was graphically unspectacular, and it did two of the most iconic story arcs in the series a massive disservice. The only cool aspect is finally getting to go Super Saiyan during the final boss fight. It's easy to look down upon this bad game, but at least it provided the framework for two much better titles down the line.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate TenkaichiThe only entry in the Tenkaichi series that released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was a reminder that the series was best left on PlayStation 2. The 3D combat was highly repetitive, there were awful quick-time events that made boss fights a chore to get through and it was an uncompelling way to retell Dragon Ball Z's story. It offered little in terms of anything new besides the ability to create your own character, but it was so limited that the tool had no real appeal.
Worst Dragon Ball Games | Jump ForceWhile not an official Dragon Ball game, this crossover title has enough characters from the series to make the list. After all, if it's a game where you can have Goku and Vegeta battling against Frieza then it's a Dragon Ball title in my books. Jump Force was a disaster on so many levels. The visuals were plagued with a terrible motion blur that made the game an eyesore, the combat was frustrating at its best and it was a huge waste of so many awesome intellectual properties. With zero redeeming values and a horrible original story, this is better left forgotten.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball: Advanced AdventureWhile its my favorite of all four of the anime series, the original Dragon Ball doesn't have a ton of video game adaptations as most choose to deal with the more action-packed Dragon Ball Z. Thankfully, Dimps' Dragon Ball: Advanced Adevnture is a fantastic adaptation that features a rotation of several different level types. The best were the platforming levels that saw Goku battling enemies while venturing across stages. The two other types are the nimbus levels, which saw the child prodigy using his nimbus cloud to take on flying foes and one-on-one fights that helped replicate the tournament bouts and key battles. While none of these were all that excellent in their own, the variety made it a very fun handheld title.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball FighterZDragon Ball FighterZ had to make the list as it is the best Dragon Ball fighting game ever made. Considerably better than their mobile offerings (Supersonic Warriors and Extreme Butoden), Arc System Works' first Dragon Ball fighting game for consoles is an incredible recreation of the action that made Akira Toriyama's series an epic to watch. The gorgeous battles, simple yet nuanced gameplay and wide variety of characters (even if there are roughly 20 Gokus to choose from) all help this to be the ultimate 2D fighter in the series. It may never be topped, and as long as it keeps getting DLC that is just fine.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball FusionsDeveloped for the Nintendo 3DS, Dragon Ball Fusions is a unique RPG that featured three-on-three battles. One of the most unique elements was the ability to make a ton of non-canon fusion characters, which led to some very ridiculous creations. With a fun story mode and gameplay that never takes itself too seriously, this is one of the cooler uses of the property in recent years.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball: Origins 2Both of the Dragon Ball: Origins titles are excellent adaptations of the original series and a great display of the goofiness that originally defined Dragon Ball. The touchscreen controls haven't aged the best, but they're still super charming to play today. The second game is an adaptation of the Red Ribbon Army arc and has a great amount of variety as players can also play as Bulma, Krillin and Yamcha in addition to Goku throughout the story mode.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2The Dragon Ball Xenoverse series never really delivered on its online features, but it did offer up a really enjoyable action RPG that allowed the player to experience a ton of what-if scenarios throughout Dragon Ball lore. It's a fantastic celebration of the series as a whole as players get to really have fun with the timeline and see altered versions of many iconic moments.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the SaiyansDeveloped by role-playing game experts Monolith Soft, Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans is the best RPG adaptation of Dragon Ball Z. While it sadly only went up to the Saiyan saga like the title indicates, it was filled with fun side quests and references to the original Dragon Ball series as well. It's a real shame that it never received a sequel as the battle system was quite enjoyable and adaptations of future arcs could have been just as fun with the additional cast of characters.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3While the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai series was quite popular, the games were never all that excellent. It was more that fans were starved for content and these simple 3D fighting games were competent enough to do the trick. The best of the bunch was 2004's Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 (which is available in the HD collection). A big upgrade was in the game's story mode, which saw 11 characters get their own storyline and tightened up the combat system. The rest of the series simply saw diminishing returns.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Dragon Ball Z: Buu's FuryThe third and final entry in the Legacy of Goku series, Buu's Fury is an adaptation of Dragon Ball Z's final arc. It offered up even more variety than its predecessor with five playable characters (Goku, Gohan, Goten, Vegeta and Trunks), although it didn't have Hercule as a hilarious bonus. It did a great job of staying faithful to the anime and is the best way to experience the Buu arc in video game form.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Jump Ultimate StarsSo many fans have wanted to see how Goku would play in Super Smash Bros. but it doesn't look like that will ever happen. Thankfully, Jump Ultimate Stars for Nintendo DS essentially answered that question. This 2D platform fighter is an excellent title that features over 50 playable characters and hundreds of assist characters that aid in battle. Dragon Ball has seven playable characters (the most of any series), so I don't mind including this crossover title. Unlike the 3D Jump games, this Japanese-only release is well worth importing.
Best Dragon Ball Games | Super Dragon Ball ZDesigned by Arika, the company founded by Street Fighter veteran Noritaka Funamizu, Super Dragon Ball Z is a much more technical fighting game for PlayStation 2. Much better than the Budokai games for those looking for depth, it offered up a great experience at the time. It has aged well although the combat is not as great as what FighterZ offers up. Despite that, it's still worth celebrating as a great title.