Initial release date: January 16, 2020
Genre: Action role-playing game
Developers: CyberConnect2, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Publishers: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America
Growing up in the 90s insured I had a plethora of cartoons to watch everyday and especially on Saturday mornings and within the plethora of cartoons were shows that had a different animation style than the bulk of what I was watching and a very very different tone too. At the time I didn’t know that it was called anime but I would catch shows like Sailor Moon, Macross aka Robotech, Gundam, and the crown jewel of them all: Dragon Ball Z! DBZ was unlike anything I had ever watched at the time with animation I’d never seen before, action that drew you in, and characters that were just AWESOME! For years I wanted a video game of Dragon Ball to match the level of what I saw on TV and while we’ve had games like the Budokai series, Tenkaichi series, Burst Limit, Raging Blast, Xenoverse series, Legacy of Goku, and the recent FighterZ; there hasn’t been a Dragon Ball game that had you play the entire Z arc start to finish in an open world action RPG format…..until now. Enter Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, an openworld action RPG that spans the entire Z saga with additional content and over 80 hours of gameplay. Is this the Dragon Ball game we’ve always wanted or is it another good attempt but fails in the execution? Let’s find out!
The story of Dragon Ball Z is effectively 30 years old and stars Son Goku commonly known in the west as Goku and his fights with ever stronger villains and the search for the mythical Dragon Balls which depending on the origin and creator of them will grant a user 1 wish or up to 3 wishes depending on if the Earth or Namekian Dragon Balls are used. The game kicks off with Goku having a mental fight in his mind and then taking Gohan to catch a fish for dinner and then head home which leads to the first episode of the Z series. To say this game is a play by play of the story that’s been told for over 30 years is not true as while it is yet another game to rehash this same story again it also does so in its own way that by giving you an openworld to explore. From the Arrival of the Sayians to the Buu Saga there’s a lot to love and even more to learn and while the game does take liberties with the established canon of both the Anime and the Manga it is still exciting none the less!
This game graphically looks STUNNING! While not on the level of FighterZ it is still jaw dropping none the less and the animations look awesome! The characters have a great level of detail and really animate in motion very nicely! The characters all look and animate so well that you’ll often think you’re watching the tv show although there are some instances of awkward movements of the characters and also lack of syncing of the mouth of characters to the dialog coming out of their mouths. The amount of detail put into things such as the ki blasts, environmental destruction, an even the effect when you power up and fly at hypersonic speeds is supremely detailed to the T. I really cannot think of anything that doesn’t look good in the game even though some environments may look a bit bland it overall still looks good, bland, but good overall.
The gameplay should be familiar to anyone who has played the more recent Dragon Ball Xenoverse games and the Naruto games as it is a slanted over the shoulder view with your left analog stick controlling your movement, the right analog controlling the camera, and buttons for melee attacks/ki blasts/ki charging/blocking/target lock-on and aiming, and so much more! Honestly if you’ve play any of the Xenoverse games or the OnePiece: World Seeker or Naruto games then you will be at home with this control scheme.
The ability to access a world map and fly to almost anywhere in the game is such a evolutionary step in Dragon Ball games as this has been something that the series has flirted with in many entries over the last 20 years but has never fully implemented to the extent that it has with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. Going into the map system allows you to see all the travelable areas on both a local area and you can zoom out to fast travel to different areas of the world map and its something to see.
Given the open-world nature of the game there is something that you MUST DO and that’s simply to explore the world because yes you can go from each area to just get the story moving from point to point but by doing that you will miss out on so much and also miss out on the ability to level up your characters and gain new insights into the story that regardless of the canocity of it all is very entertaining.
So yes that’s the other aspect of this game that we need to dive into and that’s the fact that not only is this an open world Dragon Ball game but this is also an Open World Action RPG and man does this game excel in the Action RPG department in all aspects with its party of three system, skill trees, training to level up abilities, and so much more!
As you defeat your opponents, you’ll begin to level up each character and earn Z Orbs to upgrade their powers in the Skill Tree. The branching path of the Skill Tree enable you to power up individual special attacks or earn general buffs such as stunning enemies faster or raising your power against higher level opponents. To unlock everything, you’ll need to take on increasingly tougher enemies, and you’ll need to collect Orbs from the different open world areas on the world map.
Explore the world
Level up as much as possible
Explore even more!
The games opening theme is straight from the original Japanese show and the kai versions of Dragon Ball Z which is super good however if you grew up on the Bruce Faulconer OST then sadly you will not be hearing any of that OST at all. The voice acting is really good and a step up from the original Funimation run of DBZ and about even par with the current Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Z Kai series. Every line is delivered perfectly reflecting how it is in the show and even the added dialog for the side quests and content is superb.
The downsides of the game are the previously mentioned occasional stiff animations as well as the fact that there is lip syncing issues although that’s not a major at all. The other thing which is more of a personal peeve more than anything else is the fact that the voices for many of the characters often are the same person and sometimes they sound all too similar such as Chris Sabat’s voicing of Vegeta, Picolo, Yamcha, Raditz, and more all sound give or take the same for better or for worse. The camera could definitely use a patch as it oftentimes is all over the place and can be very unruly (occasionally) in the middle of battle getting caught on cliffs, walls, and canyons leading to severe disorientation.
Also of note is how incredibly LONG the cutscenes are during the Buu Saga as it effectively becomes an episode of the show with over a half hour or more of cutscenes which can feel to some a bit dragged out to Metal Gear Solid levels of kinematics.
With amazing graphics, fluid (mostly) animations, bombastic combat, an incredibly deep JRPG system with an incredibly long and engaging campaign spanning the entire Z series minus the filler arcs like the Garlic Junior Saga, and epic voice acting and OST; Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is without a doubt one of the best games of 2020, one of the best if not the best anime and most of all Dragon Ball games ever made, and is one of the best games ever. You simply cannot go wrong if you decide to pick up this game as it is a game YOU NEED in your library is most assuredly KASANOVA APPROVED!