×

‘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

  • Insomniac Games - Spider-Man

    Sony Is Acquiring Insomniac Games, Studio Behind 'Spider-Man' for PS4

    Sony Interactive Entertainment clinched a deal to acquire longtime PlayStation games developer Insomniac Games in its entirety, the company announced Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed “due to contractual commitments,” according to Sony. Insomniac Games is the developer of PlayStation 4’s top-selling “Marvel’s Spider-Man” and other PS games, including the “Ratchet & [...]

  • westworld awakening art

    HBO Launches 'Westworld Awakening' VR Game With Survios

    Ever wanted to enter the world of “Westworld?” Now you can — except it won’t exactly be like you might have imagined it. Instead of being one of those guests living out their fantasies, you will be a host, slowly coming to grips with your life being an elaborate illusion. “Westworld Awakening” has been produced [...]

  • Telling Lies - Logan Marshall-Green

    Sam Barlow's 'Telling Lies' Government-Surveillance Thriller Game Sets Release Date

    After more than two years in the works, “Telling Lies” — the investigative thriller from acclaimed game creator Sam Barlow — is ready to take the stage. The game, produced with and released by Annapurna Interactive, will be available next Friday, Aug. 23, via Steam and Apple’s Mac and iOS app stores. “Telling Lies” will [...]

  • David Messinger, Activision Blizzard

    Activision Blizzard Hires CAA Veteran David Messinger as CMO

    Activision Blizzard tapped David Messinger, a former 15-plus-year veteran of CAA, as its first corporate-wide chief marketing officer. Messinger, based in Santa Monica, reports to Coddy Johnson, Activision Blizzard’s president and COO. It’s the first time the video-game company has appointed a CMO who will oversee the global marketing operations across all of Activision Blizzard [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Oculus Co-Founder Nate Mitchell Is Leaving Facebook

    Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell is leaving Facebook 7 years after launching the first Oculus Rift headset with a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Mitchell announced the move on Reddit Tuesday, calling it “bittersweet news.” Mitchell said that he would take some time off to spend with his family. And while he committed to still being involved in [...]

  • nomadic seoul

    Nomadic Expands Abroad, Opens VR Center in Seoul

    Location-based virtual reality (VR) startup Nomadic is getting ready for an international expansion: The company will open its first VR center outside of the States in South Korea later this month. The new location, housed in the CGV Gangbyeon multiplex in Seoul, is being opened in partnership with theater chain CGV and technology provider CJ [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content