Screengrab via Bandai Namco

Dragon Ball fans are losing it over shock return of beloved Budokai Tenkaichi franchise

After over 15 years, Dragon Ball's biggest battle returns.

Dragon Ball fans aren’t used to being blown away by announcements in the gaming space, with many of the franchise’s attempts to enthrall fans in the interactive medium often ending up as middling experiences.

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But Bandai Namco hit the entire community with an Instant Transmission sucker punch by confirming a new Budokai Tenkaichi game is in development.

Budokai Tenkaichi is one of the original 3D arena fighters that Bandai is so well-known for nowadays, expanding on the Budokai series’ 2D roots and finally giving Dragon Ball fans the ability to fly around and battle with fewer limits.

Starting with the original Budokai Tenkaichi in 2005, fans were given control of a massive roster of characters in a 3D space where they could fly around, dash, and fire off signature attacks just like they were in the anime.

And, with each sequel, more characters and customization options were added to expand what was, at the time, the ultimate Dragon Ball sandbox.

Whether you played the game on PlayStation 2 or Wii, there are plenty of fans who grew up wasting dozens of hours playing out their dream matchups or battling with friends. And now, Bandai has teased the next entry after more than a decade.

The trailer was short but hit the exact sweet spot for its target audience by showing the classic games playing out on a CRT screen. From there, it flashed to a model of Goku powering up to Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan in an HD environment before ending with a cutaway confirming the news.  

It also helps it was revealed while the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour finals are taking place live in Las Vegas, which means the energy around the franchise when Bandai made the announcement was already at its peak.

Budokai Tenkaichi 3 was the last console release for the franchise, which was released in late 2008, though there was also a PSP-exclusive title called Tenkaichi Tag Team that dropped in Aug. 2010 that added some new features to the gameplay. We don’t talk about Ultimate Tenkaichi

Since then, the series has been dormant as Bandai moved on to other titles like Raging Blast and Xenoverse, which have elements of Budokai Tenkaichi mixed into new systems. Most recently, Dragon Ball FighterZ perfected the 2D fighting game approach to the franchise the original Budokai titles were known for while Kakarot gave players their first chance to truly live out the story of Dragon Ball Z in an open-world RPG setting.

There are some skeptical fans who are worried about what a return to the franchise after well over a decade will look like, but the hype surrounding the surprising return far outshines that. Now we just have to wait for more news, and hopefully a deeper look at just how far along development on “Budokai Tenkaichi 4” is.


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Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.