Since its Shonen Jump debut back in 1984, Dragon Ball has become one of the most popular and recognizable anime series of all time. Like many popular shows, Dragon Ball has received plenty of video games throughout its run and even quite a few after. But since it took a few years for the series to reach an international audience, there are a number of games based on Dragon Ball that only ever saw a release in Japan.
Despite Dragon Ball receiving international recognition, there are still even more recent games that were never released outside of Japan as well. Here are a selection.
10 Dragon Ball: The Great Unexplored Dragon Region
Dragon Ball: Dragon Daihikyou, or Dragon Ball The Great Unexplored Dragon Region, when translated into English, was the first Dragon Ball game. It was released in 1986 for the Super Cassette Vision console – a platform only made available in Japan and Europe by Epoch.
Dragon Daihikyou is a vertical shoot'em up where Goku rides his flying nimbus as he defeats enemies, receives power-ups from his allies, and collects dragon balls. Dragon Daihikyou is more straightforward than later games based on the series. Despite its exclusivity on an older console, the game was never rereleased or remade for another platform.
9 Dragon Ball Z: Assault! The Saiyans
Dragon Ball Z: Kyoshu! Saiyan, or Dragon Ball Z: Assault! The Saiyans was released for the Famicom in 1990 and is the first game to be based on Dragon Ball Z instead of the original series. As one may be able to tell from the title, Kyoshu! Saiyan primarily covers the Saiyan Saga of Dragon Ball Z, the first arc of the sequel series. It also features events and characters from Dragon Ball Z The Dead Zone, the first Dragon Ball Z movie.
The game was also included in the J-Legend Retsuden compilation for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013, alongside its sequel, Dragon Ball Z 2: Gekishin Freeza!!, or Dragon Ball Z 2: A Fierce God Freeza!!
8 Dragon Ball Z: Super Saiya Legend
Dragon Ball Z: Super Saiya Densetsu, which translates to Dragon Ball Z: Super Saiya Legend in English, was released in 1992 for the Super Famicom and was the first Dragon Ball Z game created for the console. Super Saiya Densetsu is a remake of Kyoshu! Saiyan and Gekishin Freeza!!, combining the two games into one.
Unlike the two games it was based on, Super Saiya Legend does not include any events from anime filler arcs or the movies, in a way making it more accurate to the original manga. Super Saiya Densetsu also features an increased number of playable characters compared to its predecessor.
7 Dragon Ball Z Gekito Tenkaichi Budokai
Dragon Ball Z: Gekito Tenkaichi Budokai, or Dragon Ball Z: A Fierce Battle at the Number One Under Heaven Martial Arts Gathering, was released for the Famicom in 1992. Gekito Tenkaichi Budokai came with a device known as the Datach Joint Rom System, a card reader that could add characters and items to the game depending on which cards were scanned.
Gekito Tenkaichi Budokai had 19 playable characters total, but the player needed their respective cards to play as them. In a way, Gekito Tenkaichi Budokai could be seen as a predecessor to Dragon Ball Heroes, as both utilize card reading technology.
6 Dragon Ball Z Side Story: Plan To Eradicate The Saiyans
Released in 1993 for the Famicom, Dragon Ball Z Side Story: Plan To Eradicate The Saiyans is relatively well known among fans due to its OVA adaptation and the 2010 remake of said OVA that was included with copies of Dragon Ball Z: Raging Blast 2.
Plan To Eradicate The Saiyans has its own story instead of just adapting the various sagas of the manga and anime series. Because of this, Plan To Eradicate the Saiyans has two original characters, the truffle scientist Dr. Lychee and Hatchiyack, a supercomputer created by Dr. Lychee that eventually becomes a deadly and powerful fighting machine.
5 Dragon Ball Z The Greatest Son Goku Legend
Released in 1994 for the PC Engine – or the TurboGrafx-16 in North America – Dragon Ball Z: Idainaru Son Goku Densetsu, or Dragon Ball Z: The Greatest Son Goku Legend, is a fighting game where the story is structured as Gohan telling his little brother Goten about the most formidable enemies their late father had faced.
Because of this, the story ends after Goku dies from attempting to save the world from Perfect Cell's planet-destroying explosion. The game also has three playable characters, Kid Goku, Adult Goku, and Teen Gohan, so its roster is much smaller than those featured in the games before it.
4 Dragon Ball Z: Goku Hishoden
Dragon Ball Z: Goku Hisoden, or Dragon Ball Z: Goku's Soaring Legend, was released for the original Game Boy in 1994 as the first Dragon Ball Z game for the handheld console and covered the end of the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament and the Saiyan Saga.
In addition to the story mode, the game also has a Training mode, a World Martial Arts Tournament mode, and a Play mode that can only be accessed through playing the game by using a Super Game Boy. The following year, it also had a sequel called Dragon Ball Z: Goku Gekitoden, or Dragon Ball Z: Goku's Fierce Battle, which covers the Freeza Saga.
3 Anime Designer: Dragon Ball Z
Anime Designer: Dragon Ball Z is similar to the many series-specific cartoon and movie-making games released throughout the 90s' and early aughts. It was released in 1996 for the Pippin Atmark console, a Japan-exclusive console created from a partnership between Apple Computer and Bandai Digital Entertainment.
While the game includes many images from Dragon Ball Z and even a few from Dragon Ball GT, it does not seem to have many from the original series, and the reason for this appears to be unknown. Despite Dragon Ball Z's popularity, the game remained exclusive to the Pippin Atmark, never seeing a release on any other platforms.
2 Dragon Ball Z 2 V
Dragon Ball Z 2 V is an updated version of Dragon Ball Z Budokai 2 that was released in 2004 and only available through a giveaway by V-Jump magazine, where they gave away 2,000 copies of the game to readers who entered.
The game added new alternate costumes for several characters, an updated World Martial Arts Tournament stage, and no saving because it was already 100 percent completed. It was also the first game in the Budokai series to feature a playable character from the movies, as two of the alternate costumes from Freeza are actually Cooler and Meta-Cooler, respectively.
1 Dragon Ball Kai: Ultimate Butoden
Dragon Ball Kai: Ultimate Butoden was released for the Nintendo DS in 2011 and is the ninth game in the Butoden series and the first and only console game to use the Dragon Ball Kai name.
In addition to a Story Mode that covers the sagas of Dragon Ball Z from the Saiyan Saga to the Kid Buu Saga, Ultimate Butoden also has a Training mode, a Challenge mode, a Versus mode, and a Customize mode where players can change the costumes for each character. King Kai also makes his first and only playable appearance in the game, even though he doesn't fight in the series.
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