Dragon Ball, and particularly Dragon Ball Z games have been around almost as long as the original manga. That’s more than 30 years of games, not all of them classics.
Given the sheer volume, there are more than a few duds out there. Fortunately, Boss Level Gamer is here to ensure you get the best of the best. These are the best Dragon Ball Z games of all time.
For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be using “Dragon Ball Z” in a very general sense. Now without further ado, let’s get to the rankings.
10. Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit
Often overlooked Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit was actually nominated for a Spike Video Game Award for the best fighting game when it was released in 2008. It’s not too hard to see why either. The controls are easy to learn but allow for depth and strategy, and the visuals are wonderfully expressive, particularly in cutscenes.
Burst Limit also includes the rather unusual “Drama Pieces” which are essentially cutscenes you can activate during a fight in order to receive a specific bonus, assuming you meet certain conditions. You could, for instance, receive a Senzu bean that restores some of your health, or have a partner block an attack. They’re an interesting idea if nothing else.
Where Burst Limit lets itself down is in everything outside of the gameplay. The story mode only gets you as far as the Cell saga, and the roster is embarrassingly small, with only 21 playable characters. Dragon Ball fans are used to a lot more. However, despite those flaws, Burst Limit is still well worth a try and among the best Dragon Ball Z games currently available.
9. Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2
There is a lot of overlap between various Dragon Ball Z games, and Raging Blast 2 is a lot like some of the other games on this list in many ways. It’s an arena fighter, with a large cast of characters, and simplistic but serviceable gameplay. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really go beyond that. There’s no proper story mode, and the combat system is just a little oversimplified.
The lack of a story mode in itself isn’t that big of a deal. We’ve all been through the story of Dragon Ball Z before. The problem is that Raging Blast 2 doesn’t really offer anything worthwhile in its place. There are other games on this list that offer the same (as fun here as it is elsewhere) combat and have a story to play through.
Ultimately, Raging Blast 2 feels a little bit underweight. Huge sections of the roster feel redundant with similar movesets and there really isn’t that much to do. Even unlocking all the characters is a bit of a drag with some of the AI enemies you have to defeat is a little frustrating. There is a fun, flashy fighting game here, but it’s outclassed by most of its peers.
8. Dragon Ball Fusions
This slightly bonkers 3DS game is fan service through and through but still manages to be entertaining. Dragon Ball Fusions owes its existence to one simple question. What would happen if any character could fuse with any other? The answer is about as ridiculous as you’d expect.
There is a decent enough strategy RPG going on in the background, but Fusions’ big draw is the ability to fuse any two characters from the franchise into one. If you’ve ever wanted to see what Nappa and Raditz would look like sharing a body, then your ship has finally come in.
There is also a completely original story on offer. Two Earthlings, Tekka and Pinich summon Shenron and wish for the greatest martial arts tournament of all time to take place. This somehow results in the fabric of time and space disintegrating, and a whole new tournament where fighters from throughout all timelines compete.
It might sound silly, but if that puts you off, you probably haven’t watched a lot of Dragon Ball,
7. Dragon Ball Z: Attack of The Saiyans
Handheld systems saw their fair share of quality Dragon Ball Z games, and Attack of The Saiyans is no exception. A turn-based role-playing game for the Nintendo DS that didn’t set the world alight, but provides fans of the franchise with a solid old-school RPG.
Only the Saiyan saga and bits of the original Dragon Ball are included here, which might not sound like much, but have no fear. this is a surprisingly meaty experience. If you like retro JRPGs, this is a pretty respectable one. Not mind-blowing, but it hits all the right notes.
Having said that, there are one or two nice twists on the standard formula. Most notably, the members of your party (which you are free to customize) can perform “Sparking Combo’s” which are essentially tag team moves, if you give them time to build up the necessary energy. This system adds another dimension to what is otherwise a fairly basic combat system.
6. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
A rare case of a Dragon Ball Z game that goes off-script. First off, Xenoverse 2, a 3D battler with RPG elements tells an original story. It’s a load of time traveling nonsense but it’s a lot of fun too.
We’ve seen the Dragon ball story play out so many times that something new is a welcome relief. You will still see all the iconic battles but from a new perspective.
The Xenoverse games are also unusual in that they are pseudo-MMOs. You can create your own character, and tinker with your stats, and the game is structured around a hub area called Conton city, where you can initiate quests and talk to NPCs and vendors.
There are also special “raid bosses” that you can take on in multiplayer. Once again, it makes a nice change from the usual Dragon Ball fighting game set-up. We’re up to our ears in fighting games.
What brings Xenoverse 2 down is how repetitive it can get. In adopting a more MMO-like structure, we get all the baggage that comes with that. Grind. samey quests, and a less than fulfilling PVP experience.
There is a great concept lurking in here somewhere, but we might have to wait until Xenoverse 3 for it to live up to its potential.
5. Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II
What’s truly remarkable about the second Legacy of Goku game is how much better it was than its predecessor. The first game was a tedious slog that enraged fans by rewriting key moments from the manga and anime. I almost fell off my chair when King Kai of all people taught Goku the Kamehameha wave.
Legacy of Goku II is much better, so much so that it made it all the way to 5th place here. That’s quite a turnaround. It is a Gameboy Advance game so yes, it’s a little bit dated at this point, but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable Dragon Ball action RPG.
We don’t get too many of those. The gameplay is largely based on stats and numbers but does the job. There are also a few fun side activities like finding the missing Namekians.
The story focuses on the Cell and Buu Sagas and does a good job of capturing the Dragon Ball magic we all know and love. This does also mean you don’t actually get to play as Goku very much, which some people might be upset by.
If you’ve got a GBA lying around, definitely give this one a go.
4. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3
There’s no doubt that Budokai 3 is the best of the Budokai games, but for my money, it doesn’t quite surpass Budokai Tenkaichi 3. It doesn’t have the same freedom of movement (playing more like Tekken or Soul Calibur) and the roster is nowhere near as extensive.
It might have the edge for hardcore one-on-one fighting game enthusiasts, but as a Dragon Ball fan, it doesn’t hold quite the same appeal for me.
Don’t get the wrong impression though, Budokai 3 is still an excellent fighting game, featuring all your favorite characters. There’s plenty of content on offer too, with eleven separate story campaigns as well as a World Tournament mode. There is more than enough to keep you entertained.
As you’d expect from a Budokai game, it also looks great. It may have been released way back in 2004 but the cel-shaded art style has held up nicely.
Dragon Ball Z games are nothing if not a visual spectacle and this is a particularly strong entry in that regard. Overall, it’s a great game, which narrowly loses out to our next entry.
3. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3
There are all kinds of ways one could criticize Budokai Tenkaichi 3. A lot of the characters share moves, the camera misbehaves, and the actual combat mechanics are a little simplistic. But despite all that, I must have poured hundreds of hours into this game. Sure it has its flaws, but there’s no denying that BT3 is an absolute blast to play.
It might have a few rough edges but fans of the franchise will look past them. Most obviously to the enormous character roster. There are 98 playable characters, 161 if we include transformations, and they come from all over.
There are characters from Z, GT, and the original Dragon Ball. That level of fan service is always appreciated.
I may have given the gameplay a little bit of stick, and while it isn’t mind-blowing, it does a great job of capturing the OTT nature of a proper DBZ battle. A Dragon Ball Z game can make up for a lot with a little bit of flair and a knack for spectacle, and Budokai Tenkaichi has both by the bucketful.
The super moves look incredible and punching your opponent into the sky, then teleporting behind them and smashing them back down into the ground never gets old. Also, you can play as Yajirobe and Hercule ( Mr Satan), so there’s that.
2. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
It may not have lived up to the hype but Dragon Ball Z Kakarot is still a very solid Dragon Ball Z game. It’s hugely ambitious in its scope, and the gameplay loop can’t quite support that ambition, but there is still a lot of fun to be had. It’s a full-on open-world RPG, that borrows heavily from other Dragon Ball Z games like Xenoverse.
When it’s being an arena fighter, it works great. It’s all the bombastic fun of the show, with the Ki management system adding just enough depth to keep things interesting. Taking to the skies and orbiting your opponent as the two of you exchange Kamehameha waves and Spirit Bombs is exactly what I want from a game like this.
Unfortunately, Kakarot also includes a lot of stuff I don’t want. Firstly, the side quests are painfully underweight. They generally amount to little more than fetch quests or endlessly repetitive battles against the same three red ribbon army robots. The cooking system is also a dud, adding very little that’s in any way meaningful.
On the other hand, this is a fantastic retelling of the Dragon Ball saga. We’ve been here many times before, and it takes a lot to make this particular story feel fresh, but for what it’s worth Kakarot is a particularly enjoyable rendition. There’s a strong focus on characters and most (not all) of the cutscenes do the story beats justice. Even longtime fans who’ve seen it all before will find a lot to like.
1. Dragon Ball FighterZ
It’s time to face a difficult truth. There are a lot of games on this list, even games I love that don’t really hold up all that well as games in their own right. I’m there more for the characters and the setting than the gameplay itself.
If it wasn’t a Dragon Ball Z game I probably wouldn’t be interested at all. Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the few games where that does not apply.
Unlike many of the other games included here, FighterZ holds appeal for established DBZ fans and newcomers alike. Even before it was released, there was quite a buzz among fighting game fans, and what we got more than lived up to expectations.
FighterZ is a smart, stylish, and visually arresting team-based one-on-one fighter that transcends its status as a Dragon Ball Z game. It’s a top-quality game in its own right.
There’s a level of polish here that we haven’t often seen in games starring Goku and his entourage. The art style, in particular, is remarkably faithful to the source material, and the mechanics are both beginner-friendly and allow for the appropriate depth and nuance. This is definitely the most rewarding way to experience the epic battles DBZ is known for.
And that’s our list! Is your favorite Dragon Ball Z game missing? Let me know all about it in the comments!