×

‘Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’ Highlights The Mundane Side of The Anime

There have been dozens and dozens of games based on the popular anime “Dragon Ball Z.” While most focus on recreating the series’s electric fight scenes, very few have explored the more mundane and humorous aspects of the characters’ lives.

Fortunately, “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” (releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2020) falls in the latter category. “Kakarot” is an action role-playing game that retells the story of the “Dragon Ball Z” saga through the eyes of Goku. The spiky-haired fighter comes from a long lineage of hostile alien warriors known as Saiyans (Kakarot is his Saiyan name), but over the course of the series, he becomes Earth’s de facto protector from otherworldly threats.

“Kakarot’s” story will include many familiar faces for fans of the TV show, including villains like Raditz, Napa, and Frieza. But for me, that wasn’t the main draw when I played the game at E3 2019 in Los Angeles — after all, games have been repeating these same “Dragon Ball Z” narratives over and over for the last 20 years. What intrigued me most about “Kakarot” were the activities that could happen outside of battle.

“Kakarot” is made up of a series of large levels that act kind of like mini open-worlds. You can fly around on your own or by riding Goku’s sentient Nimbus cloud. You can explore small towns and talk to different characters, maybe finding a side quest or two during your conversations. You can also catch fish or hunt for food by attacking the local wildlife. I laughed when I killed one of the series’s goofy-looking dinosaurs just to get some meat.

I love the dumber side of “Dragon Ball Z,” and “Kakarot” seems to be embracing that in a big way. For Japanese developers Bandai Namco and CyberConnect2, that was their goal: to offer both fans and newcomers a complete DBZ experience, a game that’d reflect both the odd humor of the show and the badass fights it’s known for.

“We always tend to look at the famous and memorable moments or the epic battles, but I think there’s a lot more [things to explore] in the ‘Dragon Ball Z’ storyline, like day-to-day activities and what Goku does in-between battles — some of the jokes that [series creator Akira Toriyama] had in the story,” said Bandai Namco producer Ryosuke Hara to Variety (via translator).

Past games, like last year’s “Dragon Ball FighterZ,” tried to blend both aspects of the show, but the fighting side usually ends up being the focus. As an RPG however, “Kakarot” has more room for storylines and additional characters. Some of its smaller stories are brand new, with character interactions that were never seen on “Dragon Ball Z.” Hara didn’t dive too deep into what these stories would consist of, but he did say that some side quests use characters from the original “Dragon Ball” series (when Goku was just a kid).

The two studios want to portray a more holistic view of Goku’s life and his role in the franchise, especially for younger groups of players who may have never watched the old anime series.

“With the recent release of ‘Dragon Ball Super’ and the movie ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly,’ there’s this new generation of fans who are joining the Dragon Ball community and family,” Hara said. “With this massive surge of fans, I think it was the right time to shine the light on the ‘Dragon Ball Z’ saga again.”

Popular on Variety

More Gaming

  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare

    Call of Duty League Commissioner on Why It's Time for a Franchise Model

    “Call of Duty” esports is officially headed for a city-based model. Publisher Activision Blizzard announced over the summer that the newly coined Call of Duty League will have a franchised, home-and-away structure immediately when it launches its inaugural season in early 2020. It’s set 12 teams in 11 cities, and the roster mania has already [...]

  • Nintendo Switch

    Nintendo Switch Unit Sales Top 15 Million in North America Since Launch

    Nintendo is tooting its own horn, boasting that the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite systems have together sold over 15 million units in North America to date. That’s according to the company’s own internal data. As of July, the Nintendo Switch had sold over 36 million consoles worldwide, the company said. Nintendo Switch carries [...]

  • Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order

    'Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order': Respawn CEO on Telling the Story Behind 'Becoming a Jedi'

    When it comes to media properties, it doesn’t get much bigger than “Star Wars.” That sentiment certainly isn’t lost on Vince Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment, the studio behind “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.” The title, which follows Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis (voiced by Cameron Monaghan) after the events of “Episode III — Revenge of [...]

  • Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order

    'Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order': What to Expect From EA and Respawn's Latest

    There’s a lot riding on “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.” The upcoming title from EA and Respawn is the first major single-player “Star Wars” video game since 2008’s “The Force Unleashed,” and is one of the most anticipated games of 2019. After years of multiplayer adventures, could “Fallen Order” be the title that brings the [...]

  • Google Stadia Game Streaming Service Launching

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service Will Launch Nov. 19

    Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh gave us an update on the company’s game streaming service Stadia during the company’s fall hardware event in New York Tuesday: Stadia will be available to the public on Nov. 19. Stadia promises to stream games directly from the cloud, with no need to buy a full-blown game console. Consumers [...]

  • Fortnite Chapter 2

    'Fortnite' Emerges From Black Hole With All-New Island in Chapter 2

    After its previous world was sucked into a black hole, “Fortnite” is back — with an all-new island featuring a map with 13 different locations. The latest installment of the free-to-play battle royale game, which publisher Epic Games calls the first season of “Fortnite” Chapter 2, went live early Tuesday at around 6 a.m. ET. [...]

  • Fortnite-Season-X-Out-of-Time

    'Fortnite' Goes Dark: A Masterful Marketing Stroke by Epic Games

    On Sunday, “Fortnite” — the most popular game on Earth right now — without warning, imploded into darkness. At around 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 13, a meteor in Season 10 of “Fortnite” that had been biding its time set off a cataclysmic chain reaction that sucked up everything on the the island and eventually [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content