Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z have had some hit and miss games over the years. With over 40 games, no one can say they haven’t tried to capture the spirit of the anime. However, Kakarot is an entirely different beast from the other games I’ve seen. This game is built entirely around the show, and, so, it would be very difficult to write about the game without the anime. I will mention characters and places from Dragon Ball Z, so if you aren’t familiar, you may be a little lost. That being said, there will be some minor spoilers here also.
The Story Comes Alive
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is an action RPG. I know, not really the first genre one would imagine for a show like Dragon Ball Z. While the fight scenes are a heavy part of the anime, there are many things that make the show more fully fleshed out. This is where Kakarot comes in. This game follows the anime incredibly closely. Starting players out in the beginnings of the Saiyan Saga with an immanent threat coming that you and your team must prepare for.
The game is almost ridiculously faithful to the anime. At the time of this article, I couldn’t find if the original Japanese voice actors reprised their roles for the game, though the original English voice actors did. This is a great call on behalf of the developers, since, for a lot of anime the voice acting is as integral to the characters as the visuals.
The voice acting comes in very handy, since all the dialogue is spoken. From shop keepers to smaller story beats and major cut scenes, what really impressed me was that they didn’t just take video or stills from the anime to fill in the story. This could have easily been a great way to save money and time in development. By not doing this, and still fully animating major plot scenes, it keeps the aesthetic of the animation in the game.
Combat To Bring Out Your Inner Saiyan
If there is one thing Dragon Ball Z is known for, it’s the over-the-top fight scenes and Kakarot does not disappoint. The combat here is frantic and cinematic, while being challenging enough to keep it interesting even in the late game.
Each character has their own skill tree and special moves to master and level up: some just from going through the main story and some from finishing special trials. Meaning you’re constantly making your team better and stronger, again following one of the main themes of the show. Not to mention, gaining new forms for certain characters, (like Goku‘s Super-Saiyan form and more) that you can change whenever you want, even mid-fight.
While in between story missions and exploring the maps, you’ll run into enemies that will chase you down. Using your attacks will deplete your Ki meter, which you’ll need to recharge mid-fight. Meaning you’ll have to time your attacks and dodges while keeping your Ki up to make your next attacks. It forces you to think about the combat in a refreshing way while also giving you full control over your timing and pattern of attacks and special moves. Even though the enemy types can be a bit repetitive, it doesn’t get old. You’ll be constantly improving and gaining new abilities, and the enemies scale with you to keep up the challenge.
And So Much More!
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has a ridiculous amount of things to do outside of the main story. After about 40 hours, I’m still finding things to do. There’s even a full card game built-in, in case you need a change of pace! From side missions and special quests to cooking minigames and hidden caches’ throughout the world, this game will keep you exploring. The world map is divided up into sections to make it a bit easier to navigate (and to keep the sheer amount of things to collect and interact with from bogging down the frame rate).
Managing your team gives you bonuses to attack, experience, and more. On top of that, you’ll also collect “Soul Emblems” that you can arrange on various pages in the menu for added bonuses.
If there is a game that captures the spirit of Dragon Ball Z and has enough to keep even the most distractable people (like myself) interested, this is it! Whether you are a fan of Dragon Ball Z, like decent beat-em-up games, or have a fond memory of watching the show on Toonami in the early 2000’s, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a can’t miss!