Uncover the legacy of Goku in our Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot review!
A baby alien lands on earth and is raised by humans who teach him how to use his powers for good. Is it Superman? No, it’s Goku! This is the beginning of his story and Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (his alien name) follows through one of the most popular anime of all time!
Goku is either about to face a mighty foe or just hungry.
This open world RPG/Fighter is the best recollection of DBZ events seen in a video game, boasting around 30-35 hours of main story alone. Although it was originally released over 3 years ago, the next gen free update only came out in January. So, tune in if you want to know what this adventure entails in our epic Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot review, starting right now!
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Story
The game is set out basically the same way as the anime, split into the four main sagas. You play through the Saiyan, Frieza, Cell and Buu sagas, each which feature around 8-10 main missions and a tonne of side content. If you have been hiding under a dragon ball and know nothing about the story then this game is great for newcomers and fans alike.
Goku can fly but nothing beats nimbus cloud travel.
Dragon Ball is the series set before Z and features a young Goku growing up and training under Master Roshi with his friends Krillin, Yamcha and Bulma. DBZ picks up around five years after that, with Goku now having a little boy named Gohan. This is where Kakarot begins as Goku heads to a reunion, with all his old friends, so they can meet his new kid.
Cue dramatic music and tension.
Unbeknownst to Goku, he comes from the Planet Vegeta which was destroyed, and his race almost wiped out. Saiyans are a proud warrior race that go from planet to planet with the sole goal of conquering them. One such Saiyan is Raditz, who arrives on Earth in search of Goku (Kakarot), who was sent to Earth for this reason.
After Raditz is defeated, Vegeta, the Prince of Saiyans, comes to Earth in search of the person capable of such a feat. The story continues from here with each saga introducing a new villain and new heights of power that Goku must reach.
An iconic rivalry begins!
Over the course of the game, you will have to perform other tasks in between the main battles, which may be as simple as doing a spot of fishing or some training. At a few points you must collect all 7 dragon balls to summon Shenron and make a wish in order to save the Earth for the umpteenth time. However, toward the end of each saga it becomes quite story heavy with many long cutscenes after each fight.
The namesake of the anime – Dragon Balls.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Gameplay
Hold on to your senzu beans, because the gameplay variety in DBZ: Kakarot is the series’ most expansive! As this is an open world RPG you can explore many different regions seen in the anime. These are split up but you can fast travel to any area whenever you aren’t in combat. There are several ways to get around, mainly flying, with two speeds and the fast one is pretty darn furious. You can also, run, swim, jump, fly the nimbus cloud and even unlock vehicles later in the story.
I got the need, the need for speed.
Of course, the other half of the game is the fights between the Z warriors and their enemies. Through the story you play as half a dozen or so of the main characters with Goku, Vegeta and Gohan being the most common. However, in between sagas you can play as anyone you choose and even level up your favourite fighter. Leveling up increases base stats but unlocking skills in the menu with specific Z-orbs gets you the real benefits you want. You can learn new techniques and upgrade existing ones. Training can also be used to unlock more abilities for you to use in combat.
A small example of fighting taken from the DLC, “A New Power Awakens”.
When in a fight you have your basic attack, dodge, block, and blast moves. You can also use your special techniques that are either energy-based or hand to hand attacks. This uses your Ki, which you can charge at any time and even create an over charge or a ‘surge’ that dishes out extra damage for a short time. Link a few combos together and your warrior can unleash special finishers.
You can also assign up to 2 team members as support for battles outside of the main story.
One annoying aspect was the enemy lock-on, which is constant and automatic. You can change to another enemy but there is strangely no way to turn it off. You won’t find any complicated button inputs here as you rely solely on your level and upgraded move set. Finally, most fighters eventually unlock transformations, which are the best part of any Dragon Ball Z game.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Visuals
Our full review was played entirely on the latest PlayStation 5 upgrade, so the visuals pictured are based of the latest version of Kakarot. The original anime began over 30 years ago and even though there have been numerous re-releases on Blu-Ray, it’s still quite dated. Playing through the story on next gen visuals is incredible and any DBZ fan would love. The upgrade mostly consists of advancement of frames from 30fps to 60fps and with fast paced battles it’s more than necessary.
Goku looks down on inferior graphics.
Upon comparing a few different videos, the upgrade also produces better lighting and shadows allowing for richer environments. Whilst this still looks like a 3D anime, the locations and character models are highly detailed. When laying down some heavy-duty attacks, the surroundings will be partially destroyed by either showing some damage on the ground or some small rock outcroppings being obliterated.
The detail on everything is so impressive!
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Audio
There are no dragons rocking here as, like the later releases of DBZ, the music is all from the original Japanese anime. For it’s debut in the mid 90’s on the Western side of the world, the music was replaced to try and make it sound “hip” and “cool”. Some people to this day still prefer the original western version and swear by it, usually due to its nostalgic properties.
For the intro sequence, the theme is a remixed version of the original song for the series called ‘Cha-La Head-Cha-La’. It’s super catchy and plays through the story at poignant story sections, roughly translating to “I can handle it”, which is kind of Goku’s mantra. This iconic song has existed since 1989 and been apart of Dragon Ball series, movies and games. The rest of the soundtrack is impressive as there are different tracks for battles, villain showdowns, locations and even character moments.
Majiin Vegeta is a fan favourite.
One aspect that was especially pleasing was the voice cast. Almost every character, bar a few inconsequential ones, are voiced by the main cast from the long running series. This is the case in both English and Japanese for those who love to watch or play anime with subtitles. You can change between languages at any time from the main menu if you feel like changing it up. The only slightly annoying aspect was the comments characters made whilst in the open or even in battle, as each only features 3 or 4 variable lines of speech.
You can hear the punches.
A fighting game would be nothing without excellent sounding combat. All sounds of punching, dodging, and knocking enemies back is straight from the anime, which makes playing it feel like you’re apart of the show. The different blast attacks are also on point as it’s always enjoyable watching and hearing Goku charge up a Kamehameha wave.
You don’t want to be on the other end of this.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – What Else? – Side Quests, Post Game, Trophies
As previously stated, Kakarot’s main story features around 30-35 hours of content, this is easily doubled with everything else there is to do. Luckily for trophy hunters, you only have to do a small portion of the activities. Along with upgrading your character there is the training room that unlocks different techniques which require Z-Orbs to buy. These are found all over the world and are rewards from beating enemies, missions and side quests.
Rare or medium rare?
Speaking of ‘sub stories’ as Kakarot calls them, these are available throughout the whole game. With some being tied to the main story, sections from the anime that were classed as ‘filler’ and your run of the mill fetch quests. Although, some are only available in certain Sagas but when you finish the game you can go back to any saga and finish them off. Some of these also unlock character tokens to use on the community board, unlocking stat increases and more as you add characters to the board throughout the game.
I think the food Ignis made looked better.
Whilst exploring the world you can also savour a tasty meal, providing limited time stat boosts. These require ingredients that are found in the wild or when stopping at a fishing spot. If these activities are a bit too slow, try your hand at some local race events with vehicles you can make and upgrade. These of course require minerals also found scattered around the place. On all maps there are also random enemy encounters but some are specifically called ‘villainous enemies’ which are a lot tougher and once all have been beaten, they unlock a hidden boss.
It’s a good thing he’s not fishing with his rod…
Dragon Ball Z Kakarot wouldn’t exist without the Dragon Balls themselves being in the game. While you do collect them for the main story but outside of that, you can collect them again and wish for a few things to help you on your journey. By the end of the game you can select up to 3 wishes, which can be, more Zeni (money), rare items, Z-Orbs or even bring back some bosses for more XP.
Got all the Dragon Balls but what to wish for…
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – DLC
One thing that must be applauded for Dragon Ball games of recent times is the amount of post development that goes into them. Even Xenoverse 2, which was released seven years ago, is still getting new content. For Kakarot there are currently two season passes available, which we’ll quickly cover what they entail.
Beerus was introduced in the sequel anime, Dragon Ball Super.
Each season pass includes three DLC stories and additional content. The first two are split into parts and loosely follow the events of the new Dragon Ball Super movies, Battle of Gods and Resurrection F. The first part is quite small and only really is a long training exercise with Goku and Vegeta. If you complete both their training you unlock the new transformation, Super Saiyan God, and must battle Beerus to be deemed worthy of its power.
Red goes faster.
A New Power Awakens Part 2 has much more story and includes another transformation. It also increases the level cap and provides new moves and a new form of battle with 100 enemies to defeat. Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan or just Super Saiyan Blue was required to defeat a returned Frieza whom also features a new form.
Now there’s two of them?
The best DLC by far was the most story heavy and even includes a whole new world. Trunks: The Warrior of Hope follows the events of the alternate Trunks from the future. Considered one of the better DBZ movies, The History of Trunks, is also one of the darker stories from across the series. Roughly taking about 5 hours to finish the main missions, there are more sub stories to play and you can continue to train Trunks as much as you please.
Containing one of the saddest moments in Dragon Ball history, this DLC will hit any fan in the stomach like a punch from Goku himself. However, the ending is uplifting and the story even continues past the events of the movie to include a touch of the Buu saga.
Going Super Saiyan Trunks was a dream come true!
An iconic story deserves to be told on a proper platform, and this is an almost perfect one. Kakarot’s upgrade is a must for long-time fans but also newcomers that might struggle on where to start in the Dragon ball universe. Although a bit repetitive, if you delve into the upgrades and different moves, there is enough variety here, especially for a fighting game.
The legendary Z Warriors.
With development continuing on numerous DLCs, this is absolutely worth the current market price, however waiting for the DLC to go on sale might be best. The Legacy of Goku has never looked better!
So, why should you play Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot?
- If you love Dragon Ball Z or anime
- You’re a fan of JRPGs
- Enjoy a good fighting game
But why shouldn’t you play Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot?
- Long anime-style storytelling isn’t for you
- Fighting can get a little repetitive
- Too many unnecessary side activities