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Unlike the Budokai series, which was developed by Dimps, this series was developed by Spike. The first game was Play Station 2 exclusive, the second and third titles also found their way to the Wii.
Gameplay in this series is focused on freeform movement, literally being able to go wherever the player wanted; take cover and power up or fly right into the opponent's face, it's all your call. There were also destroyable enviroments for the players to knock each other into (or destroy on their own), which may also contain the Dragon balls. (In versus, it's health, ki, and favorite gague restoratives from BT 2 onward.)
Tropes present in multiple games, and/or the series as a whole
- Artificial Stupidity: The AI will actually dash into beams and keep edging on opponents dispite their gearing up for an attack...among other things.
- Awesome but Impractical: The Kame Hame Ha and other charge type beams look great and do a lot of damage...but they take so long to charge that a character can easily dodge them with simple liberal use of the control stick. Guess Nova Shenron was right after all....
- Berserk Button: Broly can go into MAX Power just by saying Goku's NAME.
- Boring but Practical: The explosive wave is the most overused attack in the game, but it's the only attack that's almost guaranteed to hit at close range.
- Also, Full Power Energy Wave. It's just a laser and half the cast shares the move, but it's quick, strong, and efficient.
- Character Customization: Ultimate Tenkaichi's Character Creator aside, all the games allow you to tweak the stats of existing characters.
- Charged Attack: Rush attacks and Ki blasts. some Blast 2 attacks can do this in Tenkaichi 2 and 3.
- Deadly Upgrade: Certain transformations (mostly Oozarus) tend to be worse than their preceding forms.
- Fan Service: Even people who dislike the games admire the sheer amount of this put into each one of them.
- Finishing Move: Blast 2 attacks.
- Kamehame Hadouken: It comes with the territory.
- Ki Attacks: Comes with the territory. Most Blast 2 and Ultimate Blasts are these.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Tenkaichi 1 had a pretty ordinary roster size for a fighting game. 2 had 129 characters, and 3 had 161.
- Limit Break: Ultimate Blast attacks.
- Power Creep, Power Seep: In these games, Kid Goku and Raditz can take on Majin Buu and Broly on relatively even footing.
- Sword Beam: Some sword-wielding fighters, i.e. Trunks and Yajirobe, have this as a basic charged ki blast or a Blast 2. They're unblockable by regular guarding.
- Water Is Air: Not that there's anything wrong with that
- Weaksauce Weakness: For all their size, giant characters are just as vulnerable to beams as everyone else, and their large size leave them unable to dodge as effectively.
- What If: All the games have this to some extent. In some, there are What If battles, in others, whole What If stories, but in all of them, you can get different scenes/quotes in story mode if you win fights under circumstances you're not supposed too.
Budokai Tenkaichi 1
- Mighty Glacier: The two Oozaru characters. Without the advanced fighting combos of later games, they were all but invincible.
- What If In this game: Galactic Tyrant: Frieza defeats Goku and goes on to knock Cooler down a few pegs; The Ultimate Android: Cell beats Gohan and later fights Super 17; The Destructive Majin: Buu destroys the world and later fights Janemba; The Plan to Conquer Earth: The villains actually defeat the Z-fighters; and The Revenge of the Saiyans: The Saiyans rally together to kill Frieza.
Budokai Tenkaichi 2
- Badass Boast: Nearly half of the entrance and exit quotes, and the taunts.
- Berserk Button: In Raditz's What If story, he flies into a rage and suddenly becomes a competent warrior when Piccolo calls him a weakling.
- Lightning Bruiser: Oozaru Baby and Broly.
- Surprisingly Improved Sequel
- What If: Three stories. What If Raditz lost his memory when coming to Earth, like Goku did? What If Zarbon found out about the Dragon Balls? What If Goku and Vegeta focused on their rivalry instead of fighting Majin Buu?
Budokai Tenkaichi 3
- Character Customization: Tenkaichi 3 lets you equip 'Strategy' items, that cause A Is of your custom characters to fight a certain way, such as focusing on defense, or focusing on using blast attacks from a distance.
- Marathon Level: Survival Mode, which contrary to most usages of modes named that, ends after fifty opponents. Of course, that's fifty opponents in a game where the most you can have in any other mode is five.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted. In the story mode, you play as whatever character is supposed to win that fight, this includes Frieza, Broly, and others.
- The Unexpected: So many characters. There are even some "what if?" characters in the mix!
- We Have Reserves: In his movie, Metal Cooler is mass-produced by the Big Gete Star. He gains a move in this game that refills all his health to acknowledge this.
- What If: Four battles: What If Goku and Arale fought? What If Dr Gero sent an Android back in time to kill Kid Goku? What If Bardock actually managed to rally a saiyan resistance to Frieza? What If Devilman happened to find Friezas crew when they landed on Earth?
- And, a first for the series, What If characters. Specifically, Oozaru forms of Saiyan characters who never had one on-screen before.
- What the Hell Casting Agency: Applies to all the games to an extent, but this one was hit particularly hard. Many wondered what characters like Android 8, Nam and Arale were doing in this game.
- YMMV. Some fans welcomed the brand of weirdness those characters brought.