During the Xbox Press Conference at E3 2019, the latest game in the long-running Dragon Ball
franchise was announced. Dragon Ball: Kakarot looks to tell a more personal story, strictly from the perspective of Goku, and seems to be set in the Z era of the anime. We’re also told that it will feature RPG mechanics, as it was first described as an Action-RPG and not strictly a fighting game. Will that be enough to set it apart from the numerous games that have come before?That’s what we’re here to take a look at. What does Dragon Ball: Kakarot have to do to win us over or has it already shown off enough to set it apart from what’s come before? Let’s dive into these questions and find out.
Why start with Z?
The title of the game is quite clear, this is a story about Kakarot (more commonly known as Goku). So then why start at Z instead of the beginning? Countless games have been made over the years covering this very topic, and even outside of the gaming space, the Z arc is rarely a mystery to even the least knowledgeable of Dragon Ball fans.
Goku’s journey started when he was a small child, and a lot of those formative years helped shape who he would become. If DB: Kakarot really is about Goku’s story specifically, then it seems like a great disservice to jump in at Z, even if it’s the most well known. Events like Grandpa Gohan’s death, and Goku learning the Kamehameha are rarely documented in games, and it’s high time that changes!
This also doesn’t address the elephant in the room that is Super. The latest iteration of the anime has been a smashing success and revitalized the series after years of Z and Kai reruns. It’s entirely possible Super was just omitted from the trailer, and will be included as you get close to the end of the game, but given its huge popularity right now, it seems strange to not at least nod to its inclusion.
Based on the footage we saw, the game appears to be a traditional 3D fighting game, similar to the recent Xenoverse series. This goes against the previous information we were told, that it would instead be an Action-RPG. So which is it and more importantly, which would be more fun to play?
After the staggering amount of fighting games in the franchise, now would be a great time to step away and try something new. An Action-RPG, while not entirely new to the franchise, would be a refreshing take and could bring with it unique experiences. Could we see a situation where Goku gets gear, levels and new skills based on where you are and what you’ve found? This could open up the doors for a unique story experience, where we re-shape who Goku is, and what he can do during key moments in his life.
With that said, it’s not what we saw and leaves me worried that we’re simply going to see another 3D fighting game. This isn’t to say it will be bad of course, but it’s something that’s been done several times already, and simply going from arena to arena, fighting the same enemies over and over can only remain fun, for so long.
Sell us on the story
I’ve spoken about some of my concerns, so let me shift gears towards something that I’m optimistic about. A game that focuses heavily on Goku’s story has the chance to tell it in a far more cinematic way. In times past, we’d be relegated to watching cutscenes, then fighting in simple arenas, and repeating that until we reached the end.
If this truly does focus just on Goku, then each encounter can be crafted perfectly around that. There is no variation to account for, so each scene can be fleshed out and presented in the best, most cinematic way. Imagine a fight with Vegeta, that transitions seamlessly from a standard 1 on 1, into a desperate struggle to survive as his Great Ape form starts crushing you underfoot. That sounds awesome to me, and is something I’d absolutely want to play.
Something old, that’s new again
As you’ve read, I’m very torn on what we saw. Dragon Ball is a rich franchise that has spanned several games, but it’s that vast library that now causes me to worry about this latest game.
The trailer was flashy, and the voice over was superb, but is it just more of the same? Another fighting game, in a series known for its many, many fighting games, does not fill me with confidence. Here’s to hoping this was just a rough showing for what will be a great game, one that will make us want to beat up Frieza, over and over again.
Shawn Saris is a video guy and freelancer. You can find him on Twitter @MrTheVestman.