Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot + A New Power Awakens Set Review (Switch)

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Recorded on Nintendo Switch (docked)

There are few characters in the world of anime more iconic than Goku, the Saiyan who was sent to earth as a baby and eventually becomes one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Its story has been told in almost every medium imaginable since its manga debut in 1984, including anime, video games, and the terrifying live-action adaptation we don’t talk about. The latest in a long line of video games based on Dragon Ball and coming to consoles, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has made its way onto the Switch.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is primarily a love letter to fans of the series. From the moment the iconic Japanese theme song begins, to some of the more obscure characters that pop up as you explore the world, this game is a nostalgia feast for anime fans. When you consider that the longtime voice actors of both the Japanese and English voice actors are repeating their roles here, it all feels familiar and reassuring from the start.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot not only explores moments from the anime, but adds elements of life to a story that rarely features such moments. Almost despite the “Goku is a bad father” jokes that have been circulating in fandom for generations, Kakarot begins with a simple scene in which Goku teaches his son Gohan to fish and carries the child when he complains of fatigue. It’s short and simple, but little moments like this are scattered throughout the game, giving fans something new about their favorite characters, and are the most rewarding parts of Kakarot’s story.

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Recorded on Nintendo Switch (Handheld / Undocked)

Despite being based on one of the most famous fighting mangas of all time, don’t expect much depth in combat from Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. This isn’t Dragon Ball FighterZ where skill and timing are the most important aspects of gameplay. Expect more from an RPG system where leveling and grinding is the way to defeat bosses who give the player trouble.

Fighting and completing side missions gives characters experience points to level up and reinforce their attacks, while exploring the overworld earns characters colored orbs that make their special abilities stronger. At some point, improvements like transformations will be available, but the gameplay remains largely the same. Taking the visual cues from bosses to know when to block and spam various attacks are usually the best strategies for players.

Since the game only contains characters from the manga or anime, it also doesn’t offer the customization options that previous games like Xenoverse offered. There are a few options for players to build characters to suit their play style, but this game is primarily intended for fans to fight as Goku and his allies as they appear in the manga.

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Recorded on Nintendo Switch (docked)

Most of the game is expertly put together and runs well on the Switch. The character designs look like they’re straight out of the anime, and that’s exactly what we wanted from the game. The only technical glitch we had during our time with the game was when we got it out on the road. If players are not connected to the Internet using either a wired or wireless connection, an error message will appear every time they exit or enter a cutscene. This can be overcome by going into the game’s settings and disabling the data sharing feature, but it was frustrating until we found a solution.

Other than this issue, the game showed no technical issues during our playthrough. The graphics reproduce the classic anime style well, with some small details that make the world more vivid. Watching mountains collapse after a power attack or seeing the water part while a character is flying close to its surface doesn’t add anything mechanically to the game, but they do go a long way in making the player feel like they are in control of some of the most powerful elements Characters in Anime History.

The Switch version comes with the A New Power Awakens DLC, which features characters from the Battle of the gods and Resurrection of F Movies into play. These are presented with the same polish as the main story, but differ more from their original material. Part 1 focuses on training the couple Goku and Vegeta to become powerful enough to challenge Beerus, the god of destruction. To do this, they must fight Beerus’ servant Whis in increasingly difficult challenges. While some of the challenges are fun, they quickly become challenging and reveal the shortcomings in Kakarot’s combat system.

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Recorded on Nintendo Switch (docked)

Part 2 is more of a gauntlet run than an ordinary fight. Dozens of enemies line up and need to be mowed down before players can take on the revived Frieza. Unfortunately, after completing the main story and Part 1 of the DLC bundle, this fight isn’t really a big challenge anymore. The visuals are good and they manage to recreate some great moments from the movie, but those who want to experience it are better off to just watch the movie.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot may not be the deepest or most challenging game based on the franchise, but it is nowhere near the worst. Between the adorable moments added to a story we already know and love, and the faithful recreation of the anime graphics, this is a game aimed at existing fans. With his easy struggle and emphasis on grinding, newbies probably won’t find much worth sticking around for.

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Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot may not do much more than retell the story of Dragon Ball, but it does so well enough that existing fans will enjoy exploring the world and battling iconic villains from the franchise. Despite the lack of depth of combat and the minor internet-based technical inconvenience to work around, the game saves itself by expanding the already huge amount of Dragon Ball lore available and offering fans the moments of life we ​​have urgently needed. Non-fans won’t find much to love here, but it’s a more than usable retelling of an iconic story.

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