While I do love the original anime series, Dragon Ball Z Kakarot removes a lot of the filler to ensure a lean and action packed experience. It doesn’t do anything spectacular gameplay wise, but this a really solid title and feels like a love letter to series fans.
At its core, DBZ Kakarot is an action RPG. But in all honesty, you may not notice the RPG elements at all during your initial playthrough. There are skill trees for each player you control and a community board that requires the placement of character pieces to gain status bonuses. Some boards will feel more important than others, as they will have a greater effect on your characters development, but the attention you place on them can be minimal and you’ll still be successful.
Combat, much like the anime, is fast and furious, with an emphasis on visual impressive ki attacks and powerful combos. It will feel trivial at first, but there are subtle nuances that will help maximize the experience. Boss fights in particular, require balance as they will punish you if you happen to get too greedy. It pays to know when to be aggressive and to chain together special attacks to take the most out of your limited openings.
Outside of combat, players can explore the world and take part in mini-games such as fishing, racing, and baseball practice. At a certain point in the game, you’ll be able to gather the Dragon Balls and this will help grant you the ability to gain experience, money, rare items, and even fight past bosses. While the mini-games are nothing to write home about, they tend to be really simple in execution, they can be pretty fun to break up the constant combat.
As its title suggests, DBZ Kakarot follows the events of the series from Radditz all the way to Buu. It’s a great way to get caught up in the series and experience them with updated visuals. These cutscenes are a real highlight of the game and it helps elevate this adaptation amongst its contemporaries. Seriously, seeing Goku fight Frieza on Namek was amazing and is something I am looking forward to viewing again.
Unfortunately, DBZ Kakarot does have its faults that hold it back from achieving greatness. It struggles when it comes to its sidequests, which are simple and sometimes boring experiences that add nothing to the gameplay other than quick XP grabs. The world itself, while vibrant, is rather empty and can be a chore to explore even when moving at full speed. Encounters outside of the boss fights tend to be very repetitive and uninspired, which makes the decision to outright avoid them simple.
But, gripes aside, DBZ Kakarot is still a really fun and solid experience. While it’s clear from the start of the game that it targets fans of the franchise, this is the perfect title for newcomers to jump in and see the best of Dragon Ball Z Removing most of the filler that occurred between arcs isolates what made the series such a global hit.