Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Dragonball Z: Kakarot Part 3 - The Green Zone


We get the "Vegeta, I hear you've had quite the battle" scene from the show. The first time I saw this, I thought Cui was Freeza. Expected Freeza to show up soon as the next big villain, didn't know what he looked like. Soon as this guy appeared, I was like "Freeza?" ...I'm glad he wasn't.

Our heroes have been flying through space for 34 days and Bulma is BORED!

Know who I feel bad for? Kuririn, who had to watch her walk around mostly-nude for 34 days. With no privacy on the ship, the poor guy has no way to relieve his tension. I mean, they could probably just hook up while Gohan is napping. However, Bulma, like most women on Tinder, only wants to date guys over 6 feet.

Here's Freeza and his two main henchmen. First time these guys showed up was a "holy shit" moment. The most powerful one being small isn't a new concept to DBZ. Back in the previous saga, Vegeta was dwarfed by his Saiyan minions despite being the most powerful. Size and physics mean literally nothing in DBZ on the power scale. This series occupies its own time zone.

Speaking of Vegeta, he arrives on Namek only to get cornered by Cui. On Earth, Vegeta learned how to control his power level (By observation? Osmosis?) so Cui thinks he's still the same level he was before. Apparently Kui is a bit stronger than that.

Little does he know...

...Vegeta has actually gone up by like 50% due to the beating he took on Earth, and proceeds to UNLEASH HELL.

Cui begs for mercy and says that together, they can take on Freeza!

Yeah right. Together they can take on Zarbon maybe. Also Cui would stab Vegeta in the back at the first sign of trouble. So that's it for Cui.

Our heroes arrive on Namek and sense the massive power of the bad guys already here. At this point in the show they were portraying Freeza as stronger than Vegeta, but it was unclear how MUCH stronger. We hadn't gotten into the realm of broken power scaling yet (to the extent that they dropped power levels entirely after this saga).

Vegeta's power level was 18,000 on Earth and Freeza's ended up being like tens of millions or something. The power scaling was decent right up to the Ginyu Force battles, then it started ramping up a bit too much. Freeza's power should have capped out around 1 million, tops, and maybe even like, 150k for Form 1 (with Captain Ginyu at like 60k) would have made more sense.

Regardless, we get a scene I remember from the show:

Freeza and all his minions blast across the terrain, like a cloud of death. Weird thing is, in the show Freeza was up front, while in this game there's one random minion flying in front of him for some reason.

Also, I like the "Malcolm McDowell In Clockwork Orange" look that Freeza has on at all times.

If you're gonna emulate the vilest of humanity, this character is a good place to start.

We get my least-favorite part of DBZ, the Namekian abuse.

This leads to Gohan jumping in and BEATING DOWN DODORIA.


Dodoria chases after our heroes, but can't sense them. None of these guys know how to sense power, which is why they need scouters. This allows Vegeta to ambush Dodoria.

This whole 3-way battle on Namek between the good guys, Freeza and his minions, and Vegeta who is out for himself... is probably the most compelling storyline in DBZ. As a kid, I didn't know WHAT the outcome would be. And it put Vegeta into this tweener role where he became a de-facto good guy...while still being out for himself.

While Freeza annihilated numerous Namek villages, Vegeta annihilated one himself, and that's something he can't take back.

Vegeta fights Dodoria and isn't as outmatched as Gohan was. I like how Vegeta's multiple energy attack pummel ends with this one big attack that seems like a proto Final Flash.

Note: Unfortunately I never learned the Final Flash in this game. Big Bang Attack was as far as I got with Vegeta's skill tree. The later parts of the game sorta go into a Xenogears Disc 2 warp speed motion.

All of Nappa's victims communicate with Gokou via King Kai's 7G wireless antennae.

Note: I call him Gokou instead of "Goku" because that's the spelling I was brought up with.

Note 2: As a kid, I was sure that these guys were going to get revived to help with the battle against Freeza and his minions. Made total sense that they'd match up with the Ginyu Force. Nope, they get to stay dead for like a hundred episodes.

With Dodoria slain, Vegeta quickly finds himself fighting Zarbon. Now, Zarbon doesn't understand why Vegeta is crazy enough to go against Freeza. Unbeknownst to him but knownst to Vegeta... If Vegeta can get the Dragonballs and make himself immortal, then every time Freeza "kills" him he'll gain a ton of power. It won't take long for him to be able to defeat Freeza. Unless Freeza figures all of this out and just like, finds a way to imprison him. Maybe he can get Guldo to stand there casting his stun on Vegeta over and over again 24/7.

Zarbon defeats Vegeta (after the actual ingame battle, which you win)...which just makes Vegeta more powerful.

Here's the Guru, who can power everyone up by like 3x or 4x. There's a lot the Namekians could have done to resist the Freeza incursion. They should have been lining up to get the power boost from this guy, and some of them could have volunteered to be sacrificed to boost others. Since Nail over there is stronger than anyone else on Namek, by a lot, for some reason, they probably should have just pooled Namekian sacrifice-volunteers to him. He could have beaten Freeza after a little while, while other powered-up Namekian warriors dealt with Freeza's minions.

Then again, the Namekians were peaceful enough that they might not have even thought about all of this. Also, Freeza and goons caught them totally off guard. Every village they arrive at seems to have no idea that anything is going on, and no desire to fight. It's probably a statement on the worst examples of colonialism from history.

Next up is a Dragonball hunt. One of the 'balls is right where Vegeta left it in the show.

Vegeta gets a Zarbon rematch (I'm glossing over a LOT of cutscenes here) and Zarbon goes to Form 2. Course, none of that matters, Vegeta is too strong now. When this initially aired, I thought a Gokou/Vegeta vs Freeza battle was imminent at this point and that those guys would be able to hold their own. Little did I know, we had like dozens more episodes before that, Gokou would be incapacitated for ages, and the US airing of the show would abruptly stop midway.

I like how this game has an overworld to explore, and it seems pretty faithful to the show. There's the Guru's shrine. Have to say, this whole saga is easily the best part of this game.

Since Freeza has lost his two best minions, and is incapable of doing anything himself due to being extremely lazy, he summons a deadly mercenary squad...

...these guys. Well, at least the dragging-on of Namek got us something cool, because this is a memorable bunch.

Recoome has all 3 of the leg-plates, something nobody else has after Nappa and Vegeta IIRC.

After lots of random battles while flying around the overworld (this is the cliff notes version of Kakarot and I'm sparing you a lot of filler)...

...the good guys and Vegeta have a Marvel Team-Up to take on these new threats. The Ginyu Force could have easily won here by just attacking our heroes all at once. Instead they decided to attack one at a time, starting with their weakest member.

Guldo is...basically about as strong as Dodoria (maybe even a bit below him) in the show, but has the power to freeze time for a moment, and ensnare people. This all makes him significantly more dangerous, and a useful member of the Ginyu Force. In this game, he's stronger than Dodoria or Zarbon because the game requires it. Doesn't stop Vegeta from one-shotting him in a cutscene when his attention is focused on the good guys.

Vegeta now battles Recoome, who is WAY overpowered and unleashes death with his Eraser Cannon mouth-blast. I'm pretty sure this guy is the third-strongest of the Freeza Army, behind Freeza himself and Captain Ginyu. Hard to say because the story is a bit unclear on Jeice and Burter's power levels, but I think Recoome has them beat.

This fight is not easy at all because Vegeta is totally outmatched, and if you didn't bring a bunch of heals, you're done. Win the fight, and...

...he returns sans-armor, posing like a beautiful ballerina and laughing at his own "defeat". Then he mauls everybody. Welp.

Captain Ginyu returns the 'Balls to Freeza while Recoome continues maiming everyone. After Freeza takes a moment to caress them, the bad guys discover that...they don't work. That's right, all of that trouble to get the Dragon Balls, and they can't actually use them. Turns out only Namekians can activate them. No immortality for Freeza!

We finally get to play as Gokou again as he arrives on the planet, and he has a ton of stuff to learn in his skill tree. Hopefully the player has been saving up and didn't burn through Z Orbs* on the other characters. Get Gohan a powered-up Masenko and save the rest for Gokou.

* - Z Orbs are the "currency" you use for skill-learning. Most of them are found just floating around the overworld, some are gotten from sidequests, some are gotten after random battles. They are very finite and the main quest does not give you enough to max out all your characters, or even one. If you aren't running around grabbing all the orbs and doing every sidequest, you'll always be short on these. So using them judiciously is important. This can be a 20 hour game (main quest) or a 50 hour game if you go through all that extra trouble. TBH, it's good at 20. Fun game, for sure, but I wouldn't want it dragging on longer than it did.

Gokou is READY FOR ACTION. We get what is essentially a shot-for-shot repeat of his arrival at the Nappa fight, complete with Gokou being cold and flat towards the bad guy while checking on the battered good guys and reassuring them. You get the impression of a guy with full control over what is actually some rage under the surface. Especially with Nappa, who had actually killed people.

Recoome unleashes RECOOME ERASER GUN. What a move. The surprise here is that Recoome is still a somewhat challenging fight even with Gokou. He doesn't totally overmatch his foes like he does in the show.

Still, it's much more managable than it was with Vegeta. Lining up a Kamehameha wave while an enemy is locked into their own beam animation is so satisfying. They can't get out of the way and take full damage from it.

Another cool thing that can happen: If you and your opponent do beam attacks at the same time that are about the same power, you get the classic beam tug-of-war and have to mash buttons.

Next up is Burter and Jeice. Both of them are about as strong as Recoome, maybe slightly lower. The problem is...you have to fight both at once. I think I mentioned already how this game is at its toughest when you have to fight multiple foes at once.

This is no exception, and they beat the absolute tar out of Gokou. This is so the opposite of the show. And this is AFTER I significantly powered Gokou up with his skill tree.

That's right, I lost the fight. Couldn't beat these guys. If you give up, it puts you back at Gokou's ship so you have to go through Recoome again. I've got no choice though. Need to find a way to power up even more, and definitely stock up on the best healing items that are available on Namek.

Kind of funny that Burter and Jeice are like, the hardest fight in the first half of this game. Harder than Freeza, or Vegeta, or anybody you'd expect. And Raditz is the third-hardest fight, which is even weirder.

What's the first-hardest, you ask? Android 20, who is absolutely ridiculous. I'll get to that, though. Hardest fights in Dragonball Z Kakarot:

1. Android 20
2. Burter and Jeice
3. Raditz

Yeah, I don't understand any of those either.

One easy way to power up is to go to the menu screen and press triangle to pull up the Z Encyclopedia. This is basically a glossary for the game. However, it gives you rewards for reading it, depending on how much of the game has been unlocked.

Since this is my first time looking at it, I get a ton of D Medals. These are for unlocking super-attacks.

For example, learning the Super Kamehameha (which is a must at this point) requires having the original Kamehameha maxed out on the skill tree (done) and using a few D Medals to unlock this new version. However, even after all of that, you still have to fight a training battle to actually get the skill.

I'd have left out these training battles entirely. Bringing D Medals (from story progress) and having an up-to-date skill tree should be good enough. The training battles are usually super-hard, harder than most of the actual story battles that you're doing them to get ready for. Super Kamehameha requires defeating 3 Gokou clones at once that are all as strong as Gokou is. Why? The fight totally sucks and would probably be like #4 on the "hardest fight" list. It's just a training battle. Should have been against a few Saibamen or something.

I buy up on Vitadrink L, which is basically a full heal at this point in the game. Funny thing is, they were unaffordable one saga ago (and also unnecessary since Vitadrink S was fine back then). Now I have plenty of dough saved up. Enough to buy 34 of 'em, but I only get like ten for now. Probably could have just bought 34 because you burn through these later.

The key to having lots of money in this game is to sell the various loot drops like Fancy Necklaces and whatnot. Vitadrink L may seem totally overpowered for the price, but midway through the next saga it's like a 25% heal and by the last saga it's more like 10%.

Now fortified with a bunch of full heals, I'm finally ready to take on these two monsters.

...what are they talking about? Gokou already took down Recoome. You can see him right there.

This time the battle goes very differently. It's still a pain. By the time you take down one of the two, you're ready for the fight to be over, and nope, you still have an entire second boss buzzing around.

AND THAT'S IT, GAME IS OVER. Tune in for the Tree of Might DLC!

...just kidding, the game doesn't just end here. But I almost thought it would. Got some PTSD flashbacks kicking in here of how the original American run of the show would always just stop here. Each time I'd hope that this time they'd have more episodes to show, and each time...nope, back to the beginning of the Namek Saga. As a teenager and an early-adopter of DBZ in the US, this was painful to live through.

Video Time: Ginyu Force battles! The thumbnail makes it look like a Gokou/Burter Dance-Off. I assure you, the fight was way harder than that. The Captain Ginyu fight (plus Jeice) follows shortly after Burter/Jeice, and for some reason it's easier despite again being two opponents.

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