The anime phenom since the 80s, the Dragon Ball series is back at it again with another game. The running joke is that every 2 years we get another Dragon Ball Z game running through the same story for the hundredth time. In actuality we usually get either a greatest hits fight-to-fight game, like the Budokai series which we haven’t had in a while, or we get some kind of twist to the story a la the Xenoverse series. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is the first time in a while that we go through the entirety of the DBZ story in an open world with exploration and RPG elements. At its best, DBZ:K is a gorgeous and energetic fighting game that gives you the best of what the show had to offer. Unfortunately those moments aren’t exactly few but can be far in between. At worse it’s a buggy and uninspired button mash, and honestly, the fans deserve better.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Strengths
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot on the surface is quite charming and shows a lot of respect to the original show. From the opening with the original song to the recaps and “Next Time on…” previews to each chapter, there’s a love here that I haven’t seen an anime game in quite some time. From the beginning of the Sayin Saga to the end of the Buu Saga, everything is here and then some. What’s really nice is all the little moments that you get in the story. Getting Launch, who was literally forgotten by the creator in DBZ, back or making fun of Yamcha and his famous death pose; there’s a lot here for longtime fans. Bandai Namco, who have done plenty of anime games including the Naruto games, knows how to make an anime game pop. From the Kamehamehas to transforming to Super Sayins and beyond, it feels the most Dragon Ball Z out of any game to date. The best art and animation seems to be saved for the most bombastic moments though. The rest of the cut scenes tend to lack a bit. While I wish there was more of their top tier cinematics, it’s still a great looking game!
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Weaknesses
The gameplay is where this game falters. The fighting system is more akin to the Xenoverse series but doesn’t feel as tight as a fighting game should. Enemies range from fun and challenging to cheap and frustrating. While you button mash one button to punch and throw in a few commands to do super attacks, you’ll mainly be blocking and waiting for a chance to counter attack, only to be stunned over and over again by the same attack. And that’s when you are not stuck in the side of a mountain or the camera wanders off and you can’t see yourself. It can feel pretty shallow, monotonous, and frustrating at times. And for a fighting game, even an arena fighter, fighting should be the best part. Surprisingly, the exploration and light RPG elements are the best part of this game. Flying around a top speed, doing random side quest that flesh out characters like never before, driving cars ‘cause of that one ridiculous filler episode, it’s all pretty fun. It’s just not enough to elevate this game to where fans want it to be.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is not a terrible game. It is pretty decent, just not what longtime fans deserve. It can still be fun and enjoyable to Dragon Ball lover. I’d say rent it and give it a try, but there isn’t anything here to bring in new fans or anyone who doesn’t enjoy this franchise. If you never really enjoyed DBZ, just skip this.