Saturday, August 13, 2022

Dragonball Z: Kakarot (Lots of systems, 2020) - Part 1 - Saiyan Saga

Here we are, the ultimate evolution of those DBZ RPGs on the Famicom and Super Famicom that I liked so much. Will I like this one? I hope so. It's more of an RPG/Fighting hybrid.

We start with Gohan wondering what his dad is doing, while Gokou sits there in meditation.


Very first battle of the game is Gokou and Piccolo in a friendly spar. To my surprise on first playing, this isn't any kind of turn-based RPG. Not sure why I thought it was. This plays more like a fighting game, except with levels and stats, meaning you can completely outgun your foe (or vice-versa)

You can also freely move around during the battles which is pretty cool.

They really make a thing out of how Raditz is the weakest Saiyan.

So it looks like the trio of Saiyans are tasked with taking over a particular planet, but it's going to be tough for them. Raditz suggests that he track down the 4th and final Saiyan, the one sent to Earth, to help them out. This seems like a flimsy plan, especially considering Vegeta is so much more powerful than the others that he shouldn't need the help of another Raditz-level goon. Also who's to say Kakarot won't be totally feral after roaming around the wilderness for 20 years, occasionally turning into a giant ape to obliterate things?

Come to think of it, this whole "send Saiyan baby to planet, hope it genocides planet" thing seems like a really flimsy plan as well.

Between fights you get free roaming. I'll say this, the game LOOKS gorgeous and is brimming with colors. You can tell this didn't come out on the PS3/360 gen because if it had, everything would be grey/brown and Gokou would be a bald space marine.

We get a really nice scene that wasn't in the show, where Gokou walks around with Gohan and asks him how he's feeling about stuff.

This leads to Gokou catching fish by uppercutting them, which lets you create fabulous meals that increase stats! Putting aside that they cribbed this from FFXV (and a bunch of other games, really) I always forget to actually use this before going into a battle. Or I remember and can't be arsed to go to the nearest grill.

Chi Chi is very mad. However, her mood gets a lot better after I demonstrate my eating skills:

I even get a trophy for it! Chi-Chi is THRILLED!

Well, BYE Chi-Chi. See you in a year!

The game shifts between characters (unfortunately you can't switch between them at will, it has you play as specific ones). Here's Piccolo fighting the random enemy of the Saiyan Saga: Skull Robos. That's right, there's one enemy, and they appear all over the place. There isn't much incentive to run around fighting these random battles, because A) They're pretty bland, B) Who are they?, and C) They give very little EXP compared to story battles and just plain progressing the cutscenes and so on.

Piccolo battles Raditz in a losing effort. In this game, if your character is supposed to lose the fight, you still have to "win" it by reducing the foe's HP a certain amount. Usually about 25%. Then it goes cutscene and the foe beats you up.

"You didn't exterminate the planet? What a dumb baby!"

This leads to another fight against Raditz that you ARE supposed to win, and it's an absolute doozy. Probably the hardest fight for nearly half the game (Burter and Jeice together are tougher, and Android 20 is waaaay tougher for some reason).

Back in 1999 or so I played Chou Saiya Densetsu for the Super Famicom ("DBZ RPG" as it was known) and I remember the first boss (Raditz here) being a doozy there too. Took a lot of level-grinding to defeat him, or finding the right cards, or something. Ended up not even getting past him until I picked the game up years later to write about on here.

After the fight, we get the infamous scene where Gokou gets killed, I think for the first time in the series. It's shocking that they killed off their main character right at the beginning of Z, after 150 episodes of Dragonball. Course, in this world death is a mere minor inconvenience, so it isn't that shocking.

Gokou: "I DON'T KNOW"

Here's Piccolo blowing up the moon. Game is doing a good job catching all the important story beats.

This led to massive disruption to our magnetic poles and rampant out of control tidal waves, but we don't discuss any of that.

We get the Gohan Trains With Piccolo section of the story, and it goes on...and on. Lots of filler in this part. The game even made me collect apples. I see why this got middling reviews. It's actually a very solid game that covers the series well, but it's also got all these filler sections interspersed throughout.

Piccolo is a dick here, like in Kai (and the Japanese version of DBZ). Having grown up with the original US version of DBZ, seeing this version of Piccolo has been really weird for me. He was way nicer in the US DBZ, since we didn't get OG Dragonball and thus didn't know what a bastard he'd been in that show. They could essentially script him to be way more of a good guy. I liked that Piccolo persona more...but it was all made-up for that version.

Gokou trains with King Kai! This is memory lane right here. Unfortunately I just watched a lot of Kai recently and the game is significantly less interesting when you just watched most of the scenes that are playing out. I'll play the rest before I continue Kai, to avoid that, because I don't think it'll be an issue in reverse.

There's a world map, but it's mostly just limited to a few key locations from the show.

Hope you like fighting these weird-ass skull-bots! CAUSE THERE'S A LOT.

Finally, Vegeta and Nappa arrive.

Fun Fact: The first DBZ episode I watched was during the fight with Nappa. A little later, I started watching the Japanese version, joining it in progress a few episodes after Raditz. So I didn't see Raditz in either. I don't think I even saw the Raditz fight at all until years later on a DVD rewatch or something.

The Fun Fact is: I had a light knowledge of DBZ fusions from seeing Vegetto and Gogeta action figures in magazine ads, and when I saw Raditz's image somewhere, I thought he was a Nappa/Vegeta fusion. I mean, he does resemble what a Nappa/Vegeta fusion might look like. I thought his name was Nappeta or something and wondered when that happened in the series since Nappa was dead. Yeah, I was new to all this.

We get the Saibamen fight (3 of them at once, I think) and I quickly learn that this game's fights are WAY more tedious when you're facing multiple foes. They love to juggle you in the air and it's just total chaos.

Finally, here's Nappa, and I get a bunch of help from other characters for this one.

That leads to Gokou vs Nappa!

This was a fine battle indeed, and the first full DBZ battle I ever saw.

Gokou's Kamehameha is your bread and butter in this game, and does a LOT of damage against stationary foes.

Vegeta blows up Nappa! What a scoundrel!

This was also a head-scratcher. Freeza annihilating random goons who fail him is one thing. Nappa was a Saiyan, though. Vegeta could have really used his help if he had secret plans of one day getting out from under Freeza's thumb. Nappa would have probably powered up a lot after the beating he took in this fight. He also had next to no chance of ever betraying Vegeta due to loyalty going back to his father's era. Killing him off was idiotic.

We get a quick Vegeta fight, and then...

...Great Ape Vegeta! First time I saw this in the show I was bewildered. What is even happening?

Surprisingly, in this form he's way easier to beat. Bigger targets are slower, and you can pretty much get behind them and attack with impunity.

Kuririn launches the Spirit Bomb, one of my favorite things from early DBZ. This is the big ultimate finisher...well, for some fights in the series.

That said, Vegeta isn't even defeated by it, and it takes Gohan going to ape form and falling on him to actually finish the fight. Vegeta took everything they threw at him and then some.

"Hi! This is Gokou! Next time on Kakarot: A new planet has Dragonballs? And it's many light years away? No problem! I know a guy! Next time on Kakarot!"

Got some battles to post:

Here's everyone (sans Gokou) versus Nappa. This was a total losing effort for the good guys in the show. Here, it's a pretty easy fight. Any time this game has a group of your characters ganging up on a foe, the fight is easier. Any time you're a solo character against multiple foes, the fight is hard. So Gokou vs Burter and Jeice is actually a much harder fight than Gohan/Piccolo/Kuririn vs Nappa.

Gokou vs Nappa. This game actually plays very well, better than a lot of straight-up fighting games.

1 comment:

  1. I guess they consider oozaru baby saiyan to be enough to have taken out all of the humans by now.

    "Gokou would be a bald space marine" lol

    You're right, this game is quite a looker.

    Man, I bet your head would have exploded if you could see that Level 1 Gohan shot back in the day though.

    Vegeta of this era doesn't even care about saiyans. Like the scene with him as a kid in the Bardock special after the planet blew up. Didn't care. Then later that lack of caring somehow turned into "saiyan pride"