Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: CyberConnect2
Release Date: Sept. 24, 2021


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Switch Review - 'Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot' + A New Power Awakens Set

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Sept. 23, 2021 @ 7:00 a.m. PDT

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is an action RPG that takes players on the most dramatic and epic telling of the Dragon Ball Z story, experienced through the eyes of Kakarot, the Saiyan better known as Goku.

Buy Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot + A New Power Awakens Set

It can be disappointing when the hot new game comes out for every system but the Nintendo Switch. It's understandable, since there's a difference in processing power — and that's before you get into the next-gen systems. Thankfully, even if it isn't a same-day release, some games make their way over to the Switch. Last year's Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is still at heart the same game we reviewed last year, but Switch-owning fans will finally get the chance to play it with the upgraded edition of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot + A New Power Awakens Set.

Kakarot has a surprisingly solid Switch port. The game scales down quite well, and for the most part, everything looks and runs smoothly enough. The frame rate is lower and more inconsistent than on the more powerful consoles, but that's expected from a Switch port of a multiplatform game. The title still looks great in motion and even runs fairly smooth on handheld mode. The frame rate isn't super consistent, and some of the text is blurred in handheld mode, but those are relatively small complaints overall.

There aren't a ton of changes to the main game from the other releases. There are a few minor tweaks, but nothing is particularly noteworthy. For fans, the most exciting thing is that the game offers a way to use fusions like Gotenks or Vegeto beyond the times that the plot demands it. Considering that most fusions are the definition of "fan favorite," that's a nice addition, even if it comes so late in the game that it's more for playing around than anything else. The game's other major addition is the inclusion of the DLCs released for the original version.

The first of the included DLCs focuses on the "Battle of the Gods" movie — sort of. It's more like an incredibly bare-bones adaptation. Players are taken to Beerus' planet by his attendant Whis. While there, you can engage in a number of training fights that basically amount to quick and easy ways to gain items that increase your level. Since you can access this from the start of the game, it can also be considered a "cheat" DLC because you can become overwhelmingly powerful very quickly. If you don't want to break the difficulty curve, I'd recommend that you wait until you've completed the main storyline before trying out this DLC.

The two selling points of this DLC are that it gives you access to the Super Saiyan God transformation for Goku and Vegeta as well as the opportunity to fight Lord Beerus himself. Beerus is one of the hardest challenges in the game and requires a good chunk of time spent in that grinding DLC to stand a chance. Both are fun bits of fan service, but the DLC isn't particularly substantial. It's a fun little extra for fans who want more game content.

The second of the DLCs is focused around the "Resurrection F" film. Like the previous DLC, it begins with Goku and Vegeta working together to master a new transformation; in this case, it's the mouthful Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (or "Super Saiyan Blue") transformation that represents one of the highest tiers of power in the franchise. This training eventually leads to them battling Golden Frieza and his increasingly more powerful rematches. That's the hardest challenge in the game and gives completionists something to challenge themselves with.

Thankfully, the DLC gets more interesting once it hops away from training and into the meat of Resurrection F. While Goku and Vegeta are off powering up the rest of the heroes need to band together to fight Frieza's evil armies. This takes the form of the new Horde battles which are an absolute delight. They put the player up against huge swarms of enemies in the closest we'll get to Dynasty Warriors Z where the power fantasy is the primary focus of the adventure. It also helps that for once it isn't focused entirely around Goku and Vegeta so the other characters get more chances to shine. It's not hard but it is darn fun.

The last of the DLCs is probably the most interesting. Stepping away from the titular Kakarot for a bit, it follows the story of fan favorite Future Trunks in his story before the events of the main series. In this tale, the entire cast of Dragon Ball Z has been murdered by powerful androids. Only Gohan survives, and he's taken it upon himself to train Trunks, so they can defeat the androids.

This neat slice of game is entirely self-contained, and you can reliably play it any time you want. It's also more in line with the main game, with side-quests, exploration, and various other mechanics that make it feel more like a genuine expansion than a glorified extra mission. Like the main game, it also goes beyond the anime and includes fights against Cell and tons of references and cameos that you might not have seen coming.

The only downside I can think of is that the new "drone" mechanic isn't very fun. Rogue Red Ribbon scout droids litter the landscape, and if you fly too close, they sound an alarm. If the alarm goes on for too long, the androids come by to investigate and murder. You can only stop this by shooting them down on the map before they can get the dastardly robot's attention. Unfortunately, this basically amounts to "slowly shoot down a few flying things" and feels like a waste of time rather than a genuine threat. It's a neat concept but not a fun one.

Overall, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot + A New Power Awakens Set is a solid enough port of one of the more enjoyable Dragon Ball games. It's not quite as smooth or shiny as its bigger brothers, but it does the job well enough and has the advantage of being portable. The added DLCs are nice bonus content, but only Trunk's story stands well enough on its own. Fans of the franchise who haven't yet played Kakarot will find the Switch version a perfectly fun experience. Just don't be surprised when you're only playing the title character for short periods of time.

Score: 8.0/10

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