Dragonball Z: Budokai
To say that Dragonball Z is a popular franchise is perhaps the biggest understatement that I've ever made. Incredibly popular as an animated television series, it's already spawned many games, plenty of toys, and a gaggle of deeply obsessed fans. Not that I blame them. It's easy enough to get interested in a series this strange and' well' anime. Representative of the some of the first major influences of Japanese animation in the US, I'll begin by saying that Dragonball Z: Budokai is not only faithful to the television series, it's also a great replica of the old SNES Dragonball Z fighting game.
This game starts off simply, and only gets easier. The control setup is intuitive, and while some of the storyline mini-games are a bit frustrating, it doesn't take much effort follow the clear instructions and watch critical points from the DBZ television series as ingame cutscenes. Additionally, the non-storyline modes are rather robust, with numerous unlockable characters, a custom fighter creation system that's pretty good, and an item collection system that'll keep you busy buying new skills for your custom fighter.
Most importantly, DBZ keeps the same style of gameplay from the old SNES DBZ game, with long health bars, and the ability to take the fight to the air in the middle of a fight, without doing much more than propelling your opponent into orbit.
While the graphics are somewhat simple, they're an excellent imitation of the series, displayed in all of their rendered glory. Sadly, unlike most cartoons, a game like this cannot suffer from scaling problems, which I personally think enhances most animated shows. Naturally, given the popularity of the franchise, Infogrames managed to insert a few recognizable voices into the game, making the story mode that much more worthwhile.
Dragonball Z doesn't have a lot of spit & polish, and at first glance would seem to be a pretty crappy game, but that's only skin deep. Get underneath the hood, and you'll find an enjoyable fight engine, lots of extra material, and an impressive amount of content for a fighting game.