Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Switch Review – Rocking The Dragon

    Title: Dragon Ball Z Kakarot + A New Power Awakens Set
    Developer: CyberConnect2
    Release Date: September 24, 2021
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Bandai Namco
    Genre: Action JRPG

Dragon Ball Z is a legendary series that probably captured everyone’s love growing up through its anime and manga. There’s also been no shortage of video games based on the series, with the latest being Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. Now, this entry adds a Switch release under its belt and delivers a faithful port with some expected dips in visual quality.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has players control Son Goku and other characters from the series through a retelling of Dragon Ball Z’s major story arcs, from the Saiyan Saga up to the Buu Saga. While other video games have adapted these arcs before, Kakarot stands out as it features many of the significant and iconic story beats. Furthermore, the story’s presentation is handled with intricate attention to detail and love towards the franchise, making me feel undeniable nostalgia. To add to that, voice-acting in this Switch release is available in English and Japanese, which has a majority of the cast members reprising their roles.

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Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot on Switch looks excellent, thanks to its cel-shaded anime aesthetic. It strongly represents Akira Toriyama’s art style, with the characters’ appearances looking like they were ripped straight from the anime. The various locations are also lovingly recreated.

Still, a few noticeable compromises have been made regarding the Switch port. The graphics take a big hit and do not compare to the crisp visuals of other platforms. Further, there are a few frame dips on both docked and handheld modes, but the game maintains a smooth 30 FPS reasonably well, even during large-scale battles.

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Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’s gameplay has you explore the world of Dragon Ball Z through its main story events. Players can explore environments on foot or utilize vehicles and flight to reach places of interest. There’s a large open world to explore, which has been well-translated to the Switch. Scattered around are consumables, ingredients, and Z-Orbs to add buffs to the characters and get more out of their special attacks. Throughout the story, additional skills can be unlocked along with passive abilities.

There are additional optional activities available such as fishing or farming for materials. You can even search for the seven dragon balls that allow you to make a wish to Shenron, such as getting more Z-Orbs, better items, or more money. Previously slain bosses can be respawned from utilizing Shenron too.

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Substory quests are available during the main story arcs or intermission segments that let you do whatever you want before continuing to the next chapter. These substories can vary from fighting certain enemies to completing fetch-quests. Clearing them provides decent rewards such as extra experience and hard-to-find items. Still, these tasks can quickly grow mundane and repetitive.

One of the most notable mechanics is the Community Board. Soul Medals can be placed into min-boards that boost your expertise in various gameplay fields like cooking, currency-earning, and more. Soul Medals can also be leveled up by giving gifts associated with the proficiencies.

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Of course, this wouldn’t be a Dragon Ball Z game without a healthy dose of combat. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’s action-based battle system requires you to fight enemies in mid-air with regular attacks, ki blasts, and special attacks. If you have support characters in your party, you can call on them to perform one of their special attacks, which you can set up in their support palette. Additionally, you can use transformations for specified characters.

Fights require you to guard or dodge incoming enemy attacks to boost the yellow gauge on the right of your character portrait. When that gauge is filled, you can enter a surge state that allows you to cancel Special attacks and combos more efficiently and allows you to chase your opponent down by combo-ing one special attack into another. In addition, enemies telegraph specific attacks the can stun-lock you make it essential you pay attention to the battle. The Boss Battles are a highlight of the experience, too, thanks to how they recreate the epicness from the anime.

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I honestly enjoyed the combat, even though I felt that the game was pretty lenient with its ranking system. I was near death when beating a boss in some cases, and I still earned an A rank. Outside of combat, I had fun exploring the world and participating in its various side activities, though it was empty in some spots and could have been fleshed out to feel more alive.

The Switch port has extra content, including two additional substories, and Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulties that will come to the other platforms later. In addition, it comes with both parts of the A New Power Awakens DLC storyline based on the Battle of the Gods and Ressurection F movies, with the first part allowing you to level up Goku and Vegeta and learn abilities that they would usually learn far later on.

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Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot on Switch delivers the same high action available on other platforms at the cost of some visual graphics. Frame rate is crucial to the experience, and if things have to get a little out of focus to keep the fights moving, so be it. There’s so much to enjoy about this game, and the Switch is a fine place to experience all the stories, exploration, and intense battles that it has to offer.

Score:
8/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Heather De Boer

Been around the block as a Games Journalist for a year. Loves JRPGs, Fighting Games and Action games a lot but loves to dabble in adventure, horror and visual novels as well.