Dragon Ball Z is a franchise that survived the test of time but while the same can be said for the forever 10-year old Ash Ketchum of Pokemon, Goku and DBZ as a whole is one that stood out for its constant constipated-like screaming to reach new heights of power as much as having outrageously looking hairstyles that most people, Krillin included, can only dream of having. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is that faithful recreation of its legacy, from the balls of a specific dragon that everyone seems to be fighting over to the iconic transformations and over-the-top fight scenes.
DBZ: Kakarot as a game provides a mix of both an arena fighter and a semi-open world RPG that relives the best moments of its lifetime from the Saiyans hailing down to Earth to the living breathing disaster that is Majin Buu. But unlike previous game entries like Xenoverse or FighterZ, Kakarot takes the fight scenes to the back seat and gives both fans of the series and RPG enthusiasts alike a treat to behold in its storytelling. It’s a trip down memory lane with this entry as you work your way around the amazing story that is Dragon Ball Z.
But while its focus is more on its storytelling than it is the fighting, in general, the game’s combat mechanics is still as equally engaging with its one-button combo and special attack palettes as you whittle down their health bars in an attempt to get back to its narrative after evading hundreds of energy beams and chaining combos into super attacks. The game’s combat system is also filled with little intricacies that makes the game shine the same way that the anime and manga did in its life. There’s the step/dodge button that lets you quickly move out of sticky situations where your body vanishes in thin air only to materialize a few meters away. Meanwhile, blocking an attack and pressing the step/dodge button with enough Ki meter lets you teleport at the enemy’s back which sounds cool just because it just is. The game also offers the iconic energy beam fights where both fighters shoot energy beams at the other in an attempt to overpower them, while it is much safer to dodge out of the way and fire a beam afterwards, nothing says cool than a huge energy beam being shot through one another. You can also set two party members like Krillin, Piccolo or the rest of the gang as your support members in fights outside the story-based ones where characters in battle are fixed. This gives the overall combat a bit of a tactical feel where Krillin has a skill that you can command to stun opponents with a beam of light or have Vegeta fire up his Galick Gun for extra damage and knockback during the sub-stories or optional encounters in the overworld.
Boss battles also offer a great mix of challenge and frustrations as well such as Cell’s multiple clones that attack you from multiple directions or Buu’s huge AoE supers that you have no other choice but to dash out of its effective range. Although despite its best attempts at its flashy combat and button-mashy gameplay, it does get a bit stale down the middle as you’ve seen everything the game has to offer with only minimal changes like new transformations or abilities that has the same effect albeit stronger than normal.
Kakarot’s world offers multiple maps both small and large that makes up its entire playground filled with things to do and things you most likely wouldn’t even want to be bothered doing and each one is littered with hidden lore taken from the early years in Dragon Ball Z such as that time where Krillin, Goku and Master Roshi wore a girl’s black one-piece swimsuit or the time when Goku first met Bulma, something that I find hard to forget as Goku tries to peek in Bulma’s skirt to look for her “chin-chin”. It’s those small details that makes revisiting the entirety of the game a fun experience. However there are also tons of side quests called sub-stories to be done, some are interesting in its own right while others are just as bad as fighting the generic monsters that offer nothing more than a tiny bit of experience points and orbs. It’s no Rockstar Games-quality world but roaming the world itself is fun enough for a few hours of engaging in the lore and sub-stories while gathering materials and food ingredients or participating in races or side activities.
There is simply a ton of things the game has compressed into one huge package and I’m not even talking about the hundreds of episodes into a thirty to forty-hour long narrative and sub-stories. The game’s side activities are one thing but what adds to this is the various systems like the meal system that provides both temporary and permanent stat bonuses and community boards where you gather friendship through completing sub-stories to unlock their soul emblems or by simply progressing through the story which lets you obtain bonus effects in battle, cooking or adventuring.
However, the game does lack in polish and requires a bit of quality of life improvements. Character progression and obtaining skills is one thing I would’ve wanted to be more optimized as it lacks a button to learn all possible skills making it a huge waste of time to manually go through the entire skill page, learn them, go back and equip them on the skill palette then move to another character to do the same thing a couple of times over. Some sub-stories are poorly made and makes it impossible to know where to go or what to obtain unless you’re carefully reading the dialogue especially when there are multiple marks on the map already. Poorly instructed sub-stories is one thing but what makes it more disappointing is how the game fails to teach you how the game works such as advanced tactics or the fact that you have to equip a passive skill for characters for them to work which is hidden behind a second tab in the skill palette. The game also dips to unreasonable frame rates when going from one cutscene to another or out of it.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot easily hits the apple in the tree in terms of retelling the most iconic moments of the franchise. While there are some parts that got left out such as the time where Goten and Trunks entered the same division as Goku and the gang in the Majin Buu Saga’s Martial Arts Tournament, it’s still a very interesting game that revisits its story from scratch. There’s a lot of love put into both story and gameplay to make it the best it can ever be despite missing the mark on some of it. With that said, was it worth the effort to have the same old story with engaging but repetitive combat? If you’re in it for the nostalgia or just want to experience the story anew, there is no doubt that you’ll feel at home replaying through it all while those that just want the gameplay experience might need a bit more convincing.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, this review is based on the PlayStation 4 Version.
You can purchase the game here – https://www.bandainamcoent.com/games/dragon-ball-z-kakarot#editions
The Game Developer is CyberConnect2, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
The Publishers are BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America
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DRAGON BALL Z: KAKAROT
Relive the story of Goku in DRAGON BALL Z: KAKAROT! Beyond the epic battles, experience life in the DRAGON BALL Z world as you fight, fish, eat, and train with Goku. Explore the new areas and adventures as you advance through the story and form powerful bonds with other heroes from the DRAGON BALL Z universe.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 43.99
Product In Stock: SoldOut