By Isaac Espinosa
Relive the iconic story of Dragon Ball Z in an all-new beautiful light! Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, a semi-open world role playing game andd developed by CyberConnect2, is based on the long-running series created by Akira Toriyama. DBZ: Kakarot depicts the same story as the anime and manga, following a man named Goku. Born Kakarot, which some see as a version of the Japanese word for ‘carrot,’ Goku seeks to become one of the strongest warriors on Earth, and soon, the Universe. The game’s narrative spans the period from the Saiyan saga to the Buu saga, in which Goku must defend the Universe from the dangerous foes that threaten to conquer it.
The main difference between DBZ: Kakarot, and other Dragon Ball games in the franchise is that Kakarot takes the time to explore some of the main characters’ journeys throughout the series, even delving into some side characters that haven’t seen much screen time. Through side quests, the game allows you to receive materials such as ores, Z-orbs, and soul emblems, and it also lets you interact with characters that haven’t appeared in the series since the original Dragon Ball, like Launch or Eighter. Of all the innovations in DBZ: Kakarot, this delving into neglected character is my favorite since it succeeds in building a world beyond the fighting and danger.
The gameplay in DBZ: Kakarot offers quite a lot. In addition to the side quests, the main story allows you to fly around and access many different forms of training, and to acquire different ingredients for meals, or materials, like ore, that can be used for machines. You can build your party to include three members by choosing a variety of characters from the Dragon Ball Z franchise such as Goku, Piccolo, or Vegeta. You’ll find more of these characters as you progress through the story. As you travel the overworld, it becomes clear that not every face is a friendly one; each setting has powerful enemies that wish to take your life, like Saibamen, or Red-Ribbon Skull robots. Both of these are minor enemies that were created by the Saiyans and Red-Ribbon Army, respectively. Battling at a consistent pace, and fighting multiple enemies in the overworld (rather than simply taking on the story), allows you to level up quickly. I personally find this refreshing, as it gives a more realistic portrayal of the training and progression of each of the characters, since they all perform different tasks in order to grow stronger.
Part of this progression includes the Soul Emblem Community Boards, and the Skill Tree. The Community Board grants buffs to characters as it combines their levels to create a specific rank. By maxing out the rank of each of the seven boards, you can give substantial buffs to battle stats, increase the success rate of cooking meals and the health points gained from recovery items, and make it easier to develop machines. You can fill up these community boards with soul emblems, some of which you gain through the main story, and others through side-quests. Properly setting up specific soul emblems to each of the boards is essential for maximizing the amount of buffs and the valuable effects they can bring you. The Skill Tree, in contrast, is much more oriented toward battle. By using Z-orbs, and leveling up, you gain access to more efficient skills and powers. Some of these are passive buffs to the specific character, and some are new skills that the character was unable to learn previously.
Despite the story not being entirely new, Kakarot is a great game. It looks fantastic, and it encompasses what people love about Dragon Ball. The game blends action and exploration, creating a sense of involvement unmatched by the other Bandai Namco games in this beloved franchise.
Isaac Espinosa is a New York Videogame Critics Circle senior intern. He’s the founder of the Lehman College Videogame Critics Circle.