I Have No Desire to Replay DBZ’s Story in 2020

"Kakarot might be fifteen years overdue in concept, but I’ve also had fifteen years to get over that concept."

DBZ Kakarot

I begin with a huge disclaimer – I adore Dragon Ball Z. I cannot give enough love for it, the works it has inspired, and the man behind it all, Akira Toriyama himself. I owe so much to this franchise from a creative and just quality of life standpoint that I will forever be indebted to it, no matter how long I last here. It was my gateway drug to the world of anime, and there’s no telling just how much it has inspired me and my video game choices, among other things. Hell, for most of these winter months I’ve been wearing a Piccolo beanie that makes it look like I have his big green elf ears.

Because of my love for the series, especially when I was a kid, I devoured every bit of Dragon Ball media I could. I watched and re-watched the series and movies. I spent my tiny allowance on the toys and even the card game. I gobbled up the manga. I went gaga for the unofficial fanzines like Pojo and Beckett (really dating myself with those). I scoured the primordial internet for some horribly blurry and pixelated images of “SSJ7 Gohan” with blue and silver hair that was “already out in Japan.” But the biggest one relevant here is I played the living hell out of the video games.

That is why, despite how incredible it looks, I have absolutely no drive or desire to touch Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot when it drops later this month.

I wish it nothing but the best. I really do. But everything that the developers and publishers have shown and promised about this game is nothing I haven’t seen Dragon Ball games do for the past twenty years. The biggest point of disinterest for me is the fact that its main campaign is being advertising as just the canonical DBZ story from beginning to end – from the first fight with Raditz all the way to the final fight with Kid Buu. This does nothing for me because every single major DBZ console release from 2002’s Budokai all the way up through 2014’s Battle of Z had the same exact main story mode and that was the canon DBZ story.

Kakarot game

Sure, there were what-if scenarios and many of them threw in the wrench that was Dragon Ball GT, but for the most part, the meat of the game was the same story we already knew. We just wanted to be involved in it. What if you could be Goku beating up Frieza? Or Gohan against Cell? Unlock the super secret bonus character Broly! (It was always Broly, my god.) Predictable as the tides, but it was enough of a selling point to all us kids with an insatiable hunger for all things DBZ.

I played through so many of them. Budokai 1, 2, and 3. Budokai Tenkaichi 1, 2, and 3. Raging Blast 2, Sagas, Burst Limit, Ultimate Tenkaichi, Battle of Z, hell, even DBZ Kinect for all of fifteen underwhelming minutes. All of them gave us the same exact story, characters, techniques, and beats over and over and over and over again. Yes, some of them went about halfway through the series and stopped at the Cell Games, but same idea – they hardly ever strayed from canon. Some of them did have original storylines, I’ll give them that. Unfortunately, most of those were so bad, I was begging for just the regular story again.

That was one reason why 2015’s Dragon Ball Xenoverse and its sequel were such big deals. Not just the sort of open-worldness of it, but the fact that it was the DBZ main canon story, but someone screwed with time, threw in a bunch of wrinkles, and it was your job to set the story right. Finally, a creative and new take on a beaten to death plot. Whether those games executed that idea the best is totally subjective, but at least it brought an end to the monotony. Dragon Ball FighterZ further drove that nail in a coffin I had hoped to never see again.

I’m just so burnt out on the main DBZ story. Again, more power to Kakarot for trying, but I just don’t think I – and maybe others who grew up around the same time – can get excited about yet another retread. Then again, perhaps this game isn’t for us. It has been a few years since a Raditz-to-Buu game has happened and there certainly hasn’t been one since Dragon Ball Super hit the airwaves in 2015 and ushered in yet another DBZ boom worldwide.


So there might be a hole in the market aimed at those who have just now been introduced to Son Goku and pals who weren’t born during the initial series run. DBZ Kai and the insanely popular fan series Dragon Ball Z: Abridged and Dragon Ball: Heroes have certainly helped bridge this gap, but there hasn’t been much to supplement them until now. Come to think of it, there hasn’t been a cookie cutter main story DBZ game this entire console generation. So maybe I just have to come to terms with the fact that I’m becoming an old fart yelling at clouds and am no longer the target demographic.

Another smaller reason the game doesn’t appeal to me is that it is promising open world exploration of the Z-Universe for lots of fun side missions – which is fantastic and is something it absolutely should do. It’s just that that too has been done before and better than what they’ve shown. Not by the main console games, but rather, the handheld games. Console releases always get the fanfare with good reason, but a bevy of the games released across the GameBoy and DS family of handhelds have offered much cheaper, much more in-depth looks at so much of the same area as advertised.

Not only that, but I would consider many of them to be some of the greatest handheld games I’ve ever played, DBZ license or no. Attack of the Saiyans, Legendary Super Warriors, Supersonic Warriors 2, Dragon Ball Fusions, Legacy of Goku 2, Buu’s Fury – virtually all of them pick one chunk of the Z story to go over and fill out the rest of the game’s playtime by forcing you to take some JRPG level exploration of the Z-Fighters’ world. Even cooler, so many of them also have their own kind of combat and gameplay mechanics that are exclusive to that game/series and never picked up by another, which is absolutely not what I can say about the cut-and-paste nature of the home console releases.

But again, maybe I’m just shaking my fist at the Eternal Dragon in the sky and need to take a nap.

Please do not misinterpret this piece as me slamming Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. I genuinely hope it does well and is a fantastic game. It is just that nothing they’ve shown – and they’ve shown a ton – entices me to buy and play it, despite my love of both video games and the source material. I will say, this is a concept that has been a long time coming. I don’t think a home console game has taken the task of a DBZ RPG experience since Sagas back in 2005 and oh man is that game horrible. So yes, Kakarot might be fifteen years overdue in concept, but I’ve also had fifteen years to get over that concept.

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