Review cover Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (PlayStation 4)
Official GBAtemp Review

Product Information:

  • Release Date (NA): January 17, 2020
  • Release Date (EU): January 17, 2020
  • Release Date (JP): January 16, 2020
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developer: CyberConnect2
  • Genres: RPG
  • Also For: Computer, Xbox One

Game Features:

Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative
The Dragon Ball franchise, and Dragon Ball Z in particular, is a household name at this point and its popularity is only increasing in recent years due in no small part to the Dragon Ball Super anime, the ongoing Super manga, and the countless video games and merchandise being thrown at us from every corner. But does the story of Dragon Ball Z lend itself to an open world video game in 2020? Let’s find out!

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Nostalgia and what could have been

Many of us who grew up with Dragon Ball Z—whether watching it on Toonami or stumbling upon several episodes at a time or even a movie or three on VHS—have the experience of always wanting more! There was always more Dragon Ball to get ahold of and it would never, EVER become oversaturated. Right? Well, whether that is true today is up for debate, but many of us who grew up with it also were familiar with the Legacy of Goku franchise for the Gameboy Advance. Legacy of Goku, Legacy of Goku II, and Buu’s Fury were three games that each told an arc of the Dragon Ball Z story line, starting with Raditz and ending with Buu. I couldn’t get enough of these games (okay, maybe I could get enough of the first game) and I eagerly wanted to be able to play a DBZ RPG on the big screen.

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And let me tell you, I played every DBZ game I could possibly get my hands on including the Budokai series, Budokai Tenkaichi series, Burst Limit series, Xenoverse series, and FighterZ. While each series has its own charm to it, they were almost always fighting games at the heart with RPGs being limited to handheld devices. (And before you ask, Sagas didn’t really exist. You made that up in a fever dream. Don’t look it up, trust me. Your mind is playing tricks on you.) But by the time Kakarot was announced, I was… actually pretty disappointed. The early trailers made it seem like it would start at Raditz and finish at Frieza which irritated me knowing that a game with the name “Kakarot” in it probably shouldn’t take place during a time period where Kakarot spent most of his time dead or in the infirmary. Later trailers clarified that the game will include the entire DBZ storyline but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I really wanted an RPG of the original Dragon Ball which was more of a grand adventure. The game could start from the start of the series and end at the Piccolo Jr. arc, leaving room for a sequel in DBZ: Kakarot. Oh well, we got what we got, and boy is what we got good!

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DBZ Kakarot, minus the Kakarot

As a disclaimer, I am a fan of Dragon Ball and I’m not pretending that I am reviewing this with the mindset of someone who hasn’t seen the series before. This is because the game itself seems to take for granted that those playing it are at least familiar enough to appreciate the story unfolding around them. I imagine that someone who has never even heard of Dragon Ball before would be able to play this game and understand its story for the most part, but I can’t imagine it feeling particularly impactful as most of the very intense scenes were dulled down. Due to the game's structure, players often find themselves either smashing through the story at breakneck speeds or going at a much slower pace completing sidequests that simply wouldn’t be possible to happen in the series’ established timeframes, breaking the immersion.

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Right after booting the game, much of my fear was alleviated. You start playing as Goku and you are walking with Gohan, at this point still a very young and whiny child, to collect fruit and fish to bring home to cook. You can’t fly at this point, or use the Nimbus, or walk too fast so as to not leave Gohan behind. But it is during this very start of the game that you see an actual bond between Goku and Gohan that is often lost in different mediums. I found myself smiling at their conversations and honestly, this beginning part of the game is the one part of the story that I don’t want to accidentally spoil except to say, it really set the stage for Goku being a caring father as opposed to a deadbeat dad that TeamFourStar and others (lovingly, jokingly, and tactfully mind you) made him out to be.

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Soon after Raditz makes his appearance, the first big map opens up for you to play as Piccolo. It is at this point that you can see that this isn’t the teeny tiny world we are used to in Dragon Ball games so far. While not all of this is available from the start, this is the point that you see this won’t simply be a “go from point A to point B” kind of RPG. There are hidden caves scattered throughout the world that you can only access after leveling up a certain point, there are robotic remnants of the Red Ribbon Army running around to be destroyed (and later Saibamen, the Frieza force, etc.), fish to catch, cars to drive, mementos of the original series to collect, Dragon Balls to find, side stories to unlock, wacky refights to see, abilities to unlock and upgrade, food to cook, community board stats to max out, and much more. That’s right, this is a real, genuine RPG.

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Cooking, for example, is something that is not exactly necessary, but it can give you a leg up in this game. You collect ingredients from around the world to cook dishes or full course meals that give you temporary and permanent stat boosts to smash your way through the game. I love making and eating meals that increase my EXP percentage for a few minutes before smashing through big events in the story.

Another thing that I like is the Community Board system. As you go through the story and complete sidequests you unlock Soul Emblems of the characters that you encountered. There are several Community Boards that you can access from the pause screen where you place these Soul Emblems to strengthen various aspects of your gameplay. About to go on a shopping spree? Make sure you increase your “Adult” Community Board to lower the cost of materials. Want to get experience? Then you should increase the “Training” Community Board. Placing certain Soul Emblems together triggers voiced dialogue and increases your stats. This sounds like a complicated system to describe, but it’s actually rather easy to figure out after the first time you do it. I personally love putting as much as I can into the Training Community Board so that my EXP is increased so I can level up astronomically.

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Even though this is an RPG, it is also a Dragon Ball Z game and therefore the fighting is a core feature. The fighting is very reminiscent of Xenoverse in many ways, but it has been adjusted in a way that works for an open world setting. You can encounter foes outside of the main story by flying into mobs that trigger fights as your team focuses on them. You have a health bar, a ki bar (energy bar), and a burst bar (let’s call it an “anger bar”). The fights aren’t very complicated at all as I find myself being able to smash through most battles by spamming beam attacks or rapid fire attacks and then fleeing for a minute to recharge my ki and chug a few potions or pop a senzu, and then fly back in to finish the fight. I rarely have to resort to any other moves, unless someone is watching, in which case I try to show off.

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The earlier battles can actually be a bit challenging as I did die a few times using this strategy, but if you do all of the side stories you should be able to plow through most of the game in this manner. But that’s how RPGs are sometimes. They start off difficult but if you manage your resources correctly you’ll be able to stomp the end game. This strategy doesn’t always work as there are villainous mobs in the overworld which are distinguishable by their red aura and they are much more powerful than you. In these cases more strategy is involved, but a lot of your fear of losing can be mitigated just by chomping on some senzu.

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I really love the character interations in this game, which is what I have been wanting from my DBZ games for years. Xenoverse did an okay job of having characters talk to each other and FighterZ did even better with its unique and original story that I think takes place between the Return of Frieza and Zamasu arcs in Dragon Ball Super. A lot happens in Kakarot in the intermissions where you see exactly what the characters were up to during these gaps in time and how events actually unfold. Without spoiling too much, there are characters in this game that are from Toriyama’s extended universe but didn’t necessarily appear on screen in the DBZ anime or in the Dragon Ball manga. There are also canon details that were established by Toriyama in the past that made its way into this game such as who Android 16 was modeled after.

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Like Gohan and Krillin, I wish this game had its potential unlocked

I will say that the game could get repetitive after a while. For me it took until the Buu arc before I started to feel it. Friends of mine claim that it got repetitive to them even earlier than that. I don’t mind the repetition all too much but what does bug me is the load times. I played the majority of this game experiencing significant load times. I’m playing on a PS4 Pro with an internal solid state drive and I was still having to wait like 30 seconds or more between loading screens. This is a big detriment to the game because I like to hop between maps often to collect Dragon Balls. I was ready to dock this game significantly for the load times, but an update hit a few days ago that drastically decreased the loading times. It still takes up to 10 seconds between world maps for me but compared to before it feels like the speed of light. I’m still listing the load times as a con, but it’s no longer a deal breaker.

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I will say the other complaint that I had with this game is the English dub. Normally these voice actors kill it. Weebs love to say “All dubs are bad. Always watch subs. Except for Dragon Ball Z” and… I understand what they mean. But in this game, it was obvious how much the English voice actors phoned it in. The dialogue didn’t always match the text, the mouth flaps were way off, and there seemed to be a general lack of heart that went into it. It didn’t take long for me to switch to the Japanese dub which, in this case, was a significant improvement over the English one. I know much of the English-speaking Dragon Ball community still have a problem with Masako Nozawa’s Goku, but I say that this game may be the best opportunity to give her a shot as this is one of the few times that I think she definitively outperforms Sean Schemmel.

This is the DBZ RPG that we have been waiting for since the Legacy of Goku series on the Gameboy Advance. While I still wish that we had an open-world RPG of the original Dragon Ball, as it lends itself to this type of game more than Dragon Ball Z does, this was a very enjoyable game and I was surprised with how much the developers were able to throw in. The game gets repetitive after a while and the battles can be too easy and mindless, but there’s a lot of heart and attention to detail in this game. Lots of games go through the DBZ story, but this game does it the best of all of them. If you want an original story with a lot of heart, then I recommend Dragon Ball FighterZ instead. Or do what I did and get both!

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Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Vast open world with many areas and secrets to discover
  • Lots of RPG elements that can be played with meticulously or completely ignored
  • Excellent sound selection to really bring in the immersion
  • The best game to get the story between Raditz and Buu
  • Awesome animated scenes and boss fights
  • Lots of Easter Eggs for fans of the series
What We Didn't Like ...
  • The game starts to get repetitive after a certain point
  • Some models lack a lot of detail when compared to the main character models
  • Excessively long load times—slightly improved after the 1.04 update
  • The English dub really phoned it in this time around
8
Gameplay
The game is fun with a lot of RPG elements. The fights are interesting but eventually become trivially easy. I enjoy flying around and completing mini games and unlocking everything I can along the way.
8
Presentation
The world is huge with lots of hidden secrets to discover. The story of DBZ is told better than any other DBZ game.
8
Lasting Appeal
The game is long, taking dozens of hours to fully complete everything in it. That said, it can get repetitive after a while.
8.5
out of 10

Overall

This is the DBZ RPG that we have been waiting for since the Legacy of Goku series on the Gameboy Advance. The game gets repetitive after a while and the battles can be too easy and mindless, but there’s a lot of heart and attention to detail in this title.
For me, this game wore out its welcome by the Buu saga, but that was fine—I got my full enjoyment out of the Saiyan-Cell sagas. I love the amount of effort put into DBZ:K, and in a lot of ways, it feels like a modern DBZ Legacy series game. With all the fun filler arc stuff, world building, fun dialogue, and such. It just...needed something more to keep it from being so brain numbingly repetitive. I seriously hope this game sells super well and we get more DBZ games like this, though.
 
Why is it that in every snapshot there's the bottom left text?
Are they doing it on purpose that when one makes a snapshot it looks like a promo shot?

The game looks amazing, by the way. DB as a whole became a bit stale after Buu, actually. The show was basically get stronger to beat the ever so stronger bad enemy, with a few comic moments in between and side stories to serve as filler, so it only seems natural that after a while the game follows the same trend.

Nice, thorough, review.
 
Of course the dub phoned it in. They never cared much to begin with. Why did they phone it in? Bamco was too lazy to let the localization crew make a version with its own lipflaps (like many major companies do), mostly because they knew they had to outsource (remember, this isn't an uncommon problem in DBZ. Look at even say the opening cutscene of Xenoverse 2 where Future Trunks and SKoT talk about the time patrol). Normally they are in games where the lipflaps are minimal and they can get away with a lot (IE: Xenoverse, Fighters). Here, not so much, it's almost nothing but lipflaps.

If they need to be restricted on time/mouthflaps, they don't care normally. They enjoy doing what they please at funimation, and having strict conditions tends to bore them. Notice that the game itself, the mouthflaps are built towards the Japanese dub, and stay that way through the whole game. They had to match those mouthflaps, which normally in the anime they'd do some editting on the floor, or use some of the blank angles where mouths weren't visible to add in excess chatter. Or most famously: just add chatter for no reason (Gohan's SSJ2 awakening, instead of a beautiful soundtrack there).

Not only that, but I'm sure after Super AND ESPECIALLY after the Broly debocle, they were in absolutely no mood to deal with more Dragonball this soon. Some of them were being called out during the timeframe they were probably dubbing this (Sean Schemmel), some of them were in a court case (Rial - Bulma), and then there was Sabat's Sacred Ointment. They were under a lot of Dragon Ball related stress, and probably just wanted the check. This mixed with strict timings made it hard for them to act as they wanted. Add all this together and you can see why I think they just didn't want to deal with Dragonball - a large deal of the community was actively turning against them at this point, and more so against Funimation as it committed dubbing flub after flub. (Note: None of this relies on Vic being innocent or guilty, this is just summarizing that the crew has been through social hell during the year this game was in production, which may or may not have affected their performance).

Honestly though, this is more Bamco's fault simply for being cruel to their outsource, but it don't change you can feel a lack of effort this time around. Especially when Goku says his goodbyes at the end of the Cell Arc, it feels so damn flat on each situation.

EDIT: Changed Paragraph 1 a bit, namely the 2 last sentence.
 
S
If you want to boycott Funimation, import the Japanese version. If I'm not mistaken it lacks the English audio track, while still offering multilanguage text.
 
If you want to boycott Funimation, import the Japanese version. If I'm not mistaken it lacks the English audio track, while still offering multilanguage text.
If this is true, it effectively means the game was completed before they even shipped it over to Texas for the Okatron5000 crew to do/input their Dubs (hard to work with lipflaps without a completed game due to any script changes on the Japanese end). And made it harder for them to translate as they would have had weeks/months wherein the Japanese had a year.
 
Pretty fun game, going to be optimistic and hope the DLC story is some Dragon Ball Super content.
 
I'm just tired of all of these games retreading the same ground and retelling the DBZ story that we've already seen over and over again. If it were up to me and I wanted to do the perfect retelling of the original story, I'd probably take the route that the PS2 .Hack games did. (Unless it was possible to cram everything into a single game, then obviously go with that.)

The first game would cover the original Dragon Ball story. Everything up to Piccolo Jr. Look for any possible seam in the story to pack additional content or extra background information as additional quests or stuff like that.

The second game would cover the DBZ arcs. A completed save file from the first game would mean that it would pack in as many extra references to the DB content as possible, since the player is already familiar with what happened there. If this is the first game that the player has decided to play, then some of the over-arching content would be removed since there's no guarantee that the player is familiar with it.

By the time both of these games were finished, it would probably be easier to get into the DBSuper content. I say Super, but in this case, we'd be scouring pretty much anything available. If there's anything in DBGT that doesn't directly contradict Super, then it gets added in as side-content. We've got content from the first two games that we can wrap up and reference. At this point, people would probably be interested in playing the game not just because it's Dragon Ball, but because they want to dig into it and see just how many insane obscure references they can find. Boss rematches? How about playing as SSGSS Goku versus an insanely powered up Nam or Jackie Chun from way back when? You can have so much fun at this point because you can pick and choose what you want from across ALL the lore.

Instead, we just keep getting games that rehash DBZ and only DBZ. Yeah, FighterZ got to step away from that point, but it took how many games to get something original? Xenoverse 1 and 2 don't count because they just redid the original sagas with a unique framing device.

The insane thing is, I got the opportunity to talk to one of the developers of the Legacy of Goku games once. They said that Toei flat-out refused to let them branch away from the existing story and they weren't allowed to do anything overly original. They had to scour for cracks they could fill to try and make the game feel like less of a rehash.
 
Wait, Android 21 is in the game? :blink:

The game starts to get repetitive after a certain point
That's like EVERY CYBERCONNECT2 game in a nutshell. Their games are more about the presentation than the gameplay. Least they didn't cheap out and use anime clips for the cutscees. :P
 
But does the story of Dragon Ball Z lend itself to an open world video game in 2020?
Not another open-world game...ugh. In my experience, open-world games have rarely had the same 'enjoyment factor' closed-world games have - it's far easier to know where everything is in Twilight Princess compared to Breath of the Wild, for example, without needing to bring up the map, and there's often less 'dead space' (not the abandoned horror series) in closed-world games compared to open-world games. By that, I mean there's rarely an area that isn't used to hide secrets or that contains side content in closed-world games, whereas in open-world games there's often large gaps of absolute nothing.

Aren't we already flooded with open-world games anyway? Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Breath of the Wild (ugh), Assassin's Creed, Outer Worlds, Just Cause, Batman: Arkham, Middle-earth: Shadows of, Witcher, and so many more.
Open-world games are no longer 'special' like they used to be; they no longer have the 'we can explore such a large world now!' factor. I'm personally sick of them, since they are often far less interesting and/or contain stupid survival mechanics where they weren't needed or asked for (coughBreathoftheWildcough).
 
S
If this is true, it effectively means the game was completed before they even shipped it over to Texas for the Okatron5000 crew to do/input their Dubs (hard to work with lipflaps without a completed game due to any script changes on the Japanese end). And made it harder for them to translate as they would have had weeks/months wherein the Japanese had a year.
Or they just decided to save money and skip licensing the English track for Japanese markets.
I've never played Kakarot so I can't confirm, but my Japanese copy of XV2 only has Japanese voices and when I asked, other players confirmed it's true for all Japanese versions, not a cartridge space thing.
 
Or they just decided to save money and skip licensing the English track for Japanese markets.
I've never played Kakarot so I can't confirm, but my Japanese copy of XV2 only has Japanese voices and when I asked, other players confirmed it's true for all Japanese versions, not a cartridge space thing.
Valid point I did not consider, although far as I'm aware they pay a rather flat fee for using the voices internationally. Are any other languages missing from the JP release?
 
S
Valid point I did not consider, although far as I'm aware they pay a rather flat fee for using the voices internationally. Are any other languages missing from the JP release?
As far as I'm aware all versions have the same text language options and non Japanese copies have English voice option.
 
Very well written. As a DBZ fan myself I would give this game a straight 8/10. The gameplay is repetitive but with the 40+ hours I invested in it, I never felt bored. The only part the boggles me is the need for the flying orbs since you get a huge amount of them within a single 2 minute fight.
 
I like the amount of screenshots, thanks for that.
Thanks! I took about 130 of them but only 88 made the cut. I'm glad you like it!

Why is it that in every snapshot there's the bottom left text?
Are they doing it on purpose that when one makes a snapshot it looks like a promo shot?
. . .
Nice, thorough, review.
I assume so. I wish the text wasn't there either ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. And thanks for reading!
Pretty fun game, going to be optimistic and hope the DLC story is some Dragon Ball Super content.
I do too. There are apparently leaked models of Beerus and Whis out there. So I wouldn't be surprised at getting some kind of Super DLC. Or at least the Battle of Gods Arc (which was technically originally a Dragon Ball Z movie).
Wait, Android 21 is in the game? :blink:
;)

Very well written. As a DBZ fan myself I would give this game a straight 8/10. The gameplay is repetitive but with the 40+ hours I invested in it, I never felt bored. The only part the boggles me is the need for the flying orbs since you get a huge amount of them within a single 2 minute fight.
Thanks for the compliment! It looks like we had a similar experience.
 
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Nice review my dood. I'm waiting myself to get this when it's on sale, just from what I had seen from trailers before release and reading from reviews, it looked pretty repetitive,

I'm really pleased with it as far as looks go, just from what I have seen. Crisp and colorful, more so than most of the series. Looks like an anime and I reallyreallyreallyreaaaaaally hope they take that celshaded look and use it for Xenoverse 3, cause it truly fits with the universe.

Thanks for reviewing it!
 
This game seems to be a lot of fun and wanna get it. How are the outfits? Are they like from Budokai Tenkaichi 3? Imagine BT3 to in this level of graphics and on Switch to play it anywhere.
 
I don't know how you managed to beat the game already, I'm still in the Intermission between Saiyan Saga and Namek Saga.
 
Honestly I feel as if it's worth a 6.5/10 the visuals were stunning and voice acting on point but you can beat the entire game by just flying around and smashing the same two buttons while just buying massive amounts of hp restore to win.
 
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Truth be told...great game horrible leveling system and horrible difficulty. If you do the SLIGHTEST bit of grinding at any point in the story, you will have an extremely easy play through. Wish I would have known gaining an extra 5 lvls from "fly killing" that I essentially became OP. Fun game for a fan, the game just wasnt challenging after the first fight with Raditz.
 
Also, I can not express how many out of bound break points Ive found mining with my face. Havent found anything cool out of bounds other than another chichi floating above a white box lol
 
I've been wanting to give this a try. I just don't want to repeat the same story for the thousandth time. Wish they would make a Dragon ball Super take on the story video game wise.
 
I know I've mentioned this before, but your review single handedly convinced me that I need this game.

I mean I still haven't gotten it yet, but you've just made me feel bad about it.
 
There is just three little problem that i have noticed in this game

1-The scene where Goku comes back from the planet Yadrat should take place in a sort of canyon or desert not in a cute garden with beautiful green grass and cute flowers

2-When C-18 gives a kiss to Krilin she shouldn't have her jacket (in the manga she removes it during the battle)

3-Why Gatchan and Arale have such creepy faces?!
 
Review cover
Product Information:
  • Release Date (NA): January 17, 2020
  • Release Date (EU): January 17, 2020
  • Release Date (JP): January 16, 2020
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developer: CyberConnect2
  • Genres: RPG
  • Also For: Computer, Xbox One
Game Features:
Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative

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