Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot could be the retelling fans deserve

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is looking to kick 2020 off with a powerful Kamehameha blast. As someone who watched the Dragon Ball Z anime when it first released, I jumped at the chance to play an early version of this upcoming action RPG. Yep, this is a Dragon Ball Z game with leveling up, items, collectibles, and more, combined with flashy fighting game combat. Having CyberConnect2 (Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja StormAsura’s Wrath) involved with development is also pretty wild, and should guarantee some crazy, over-the-top visuals!

For those not in the know, “Kakarot” is main character Goku’s Saiyan (his race) name, meaning that this game explores the beginning of his storyline. It’s kind of a shame that Bandai Namco went for the “Kakarot” title, as I think something more obvious like “The Beginning” or “The Story of Goku” might have attracted the attention of gamers who aren’t already fans of the show. It would be disappointing to see potential new DBZ fans miss out on this game, as Karakot appears to be an excellent introduction to the wild world of Dragon Ball

During a press event, I previewed an open world section close to the beginning, where Goku’s son needed rescuing from an enemy Saiyan called “Raditz.” Fans of the show will know that Raditz is no pushover, proving to be a capable opponent for both Goku and Piccolo combined. I’ll admit, I saw the “Game Over” screen twice before I finally got used to dodging effectively and managed to actually defeat him.

Unlike other Dragon Ball Z and Jump Force games, the combat in Kakarot is a lot more… floaty. As it’s happening in 3D space and with crazy over-the-top attacks that blow enemies back, you don’t get the same tight and accurate combat seen in a title like Dragon Ball FighterZ. Movement is more about dodging and weaving your way to the opponent, rather than accurate ducks and blocks. Once you find an opening for an attack, you let loose with powerful blasts or melee strikes. Landing consecutive hits and knocking the enemy far, far back is super satisfying, and really captures the impact that moves have in the show. 

Oh, and this combat is all happening off the ground! Yep, you take to the sky to battle Raditz, ducking and diving to dodge incoming threats, before closing the gap and sending damage his way. Honestly, the combat is done incredibly well and I was impressed with just how polished the game felt, despite being several months out from the 2020 release window.

Dragon Ball Z Kakarot

Both in and out of combat, Kakarot makes you feel like you’re a powerful being, capable of running at super speed and flying around. You can help out the locals with side missions, train against lesser foes, collect orbs, and do all of the other stuff that RPGs throw at you. My main worry is that the side missions, which deviate from the canon, will lower the overall mission and story quality. Hopefully these hit more than they miss in the full game, as the developers have clearly been given some freedom to explore other stories, and I’d hate to see that backfire. 

The Dragon Ball Z universe is presented in a vibrant, cartoony art style that is faithful to the show. The characters are also voiced very well. Great performance (I was playing on a PS4 Pro) was the cherry on top of the fantastic presentation. If this slice of Kakarot is an accurate indicator of what the full game will be like, with the same level of presentation and compelling gameplay, then I can’t wait to give it a go.