dragon ball z kakarot, interview, bandai namco, e3 2019

Dragon Ball Z Kakarot Interview: Director Talks Exploration, Party Members, Classic Characters & More

Dragon Ball games have come and gone over the years, but Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is an exciting prospect for fans, a full-fledged RPG that puts you in the shoes of Goku. The game takes place during the classic Saiyan and Frieza sagas of Dragon Ball Z, letting you roam around different areas, hunt dinosaurs, fish, eat lots of food, and much more.

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Kakarot is a game that really wants to make players feel like the titular hero, and its gorgeous art style just reeks of the golden age of Dragon Ball. The argument can certainly be made that a lot of Dragon Ball games feel too similar, so we wanted to find out just what makes Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot unique.

At E3 2019, Twinfinite got the chance to sit down with Ryosuke Hara, director of the game from CyberConnect2, as well as Producer Kazuki Kimoto from Bandai Namco. We learned all about Goku’s newest outing.

Editor’s Note: Please be aware the Ryosuke Hara’s comments were given to us through a translator, and they’ve also been slightly edited for clarity.

Hayes: In the initial reveal trailer, combat looks a bit different than your typical Dragon Ball game. What are you doing differently to separate this from other games like Xenoverse?

Ryosuke Hara: First of all, the previous games that we’ve developed for Dragon Ball, like Xenoverse, were more focused on PvP. But this is an action-RPG so we’re focusing on PvE. That’s a main difference.

We think the main feature of this game is that you’re not always on equal footing when it comes to battles, when you’re up against a very powerful enemy, you’re not exactly one-to-one, apples-to-apples. We wanted to really recreate that, when you look back to the original anime, you have Kakarot and you have this super powerful enemy, you’re like ‘oh my god, this is a huge disadvantage.’

We wanted to recreate that scenario in the game, so that’s one of the big aspects or features.

dragon ball z kakarot, interview, bandai namco, e3 2019

Twinfinite: What does progression look like? How do you go about making Goku progress throughout the game, like is Super Saiyan and Kaio-ken things you have to work towards?

Ryosuke Hara: So things like Kaio-ken, Super Saiyan, things like that will be unlocked as you progress through the story. But there are other ways that you can progress the characters and level up the character; one of those will be experience. You can also eat food, you can feed Goku or the characters food, and that will have an influence on the stats of the character.

You can also go into training and train different skills, and that will enhance the player.

Also some exploration, you can go through and explore and find different things, and that adds to the progression of the game.

Twinfinite: One thing I noticed in some footage is that there’s a party option. How involved is that mechanic, are you going to be able to develop party members like Piccolo or Vegeta?

Ryosuke Hara: In terms of the party, there’s not a lot of details I can share with you right at this second. But there are differences in parties depending on where you are in the story. So if you’re fighting Raditz, then your party would be Goku and Piccolo. It depends on the story and situations.

So we’re kind of keeping things about the party under wraps, but there will be opportunities in the future for us to reveal information, so please stay tuned.

Twinfinite: I noticed there are some old characters that appear, like Eighter. With side content, are you kind of trying to tell new stories? How deep are you diving into the franchise to bring different characters?

Ryosuke Hara: So there’s the main story plot that you follow, and then there’s substories, like what you saw in the demo with Eighter. There’s gonna be other characters from past Dragon Ball series that will make an appearance kind of ‘all grown up.’ You can talk to them and that will reveal, you know, a side story. So yes, definitely, it’s a lot of that too.

There’s also a subquest that introduces a conversation between characters that you probably have never seen interact before. So that’s another thing that we sorta have hidden in substories.

Twinfinite: Is Toriyama involved in any way with the story? Is he consulting in any way on development?

Ryosuke Hara: In terms of his involvement in the game, we can’t really reveal too much information at this moment, so please look forward to future announcements.

Twinfinite: Are there any open world games you looked to in development? In particular, is One Piece: World Seeker something you looked to as a foundation?

Ryosuke Hara: That’s a really interesting question, and kind of a difficult question to answer. So Goku you know he’s pretty strong, pretty OP. There’s not a lot of games or characters where you’re OP from the beginning. So it’s kind of hard to find similarities in different titles.

So we really wanted the player to feel like they’re Goku, you know as you fly around and teleport and all these different things. So we really focused on getting Goku right this time.

dragon ball z kakarot, interview, bandai namco, e3 2019

Twinfinite: Would you consider it more zones that you explore in that case?

Ryosuke Hara: So different areas and locations begin to get revealed as you progress through the story.

Twinfinite: In the reveal trailer it talks about reliving the moment of Dragon Ball but there’s a line that says “experience new developments.” Is there any kind of idea you can give people on what that might be? How much you deviate from the original story?

Ryosuke Hara: I think with new development you know that phrase, we kind of touched on it earlier with characters that are returning from past Dragon Ball series, having interactions with fully grown up Goku, or characters that you’ve never seen interact before now interact. I think that’s referring to that aspect of the game.

And one of the things we really want the player to pay attention to: this game is nothing like what you’ve experienced in previous Dragon Ball games, and we really want the player to jump in and re-experience the story of Dragon Ball Z.

Twinfinite: The hunting, fishing and eating mechanics -how essential are those to the game? Will you need to do them in order to progress, or if players just want to explore and fight can they kind of look over those?

Ryosuke Hara: Things like hunting and eating are not required for you to progress and beat the game, but as you probably know from Goku, he wants to be powerful, right, he wants to be really really strong. Yes you can get stronger by defeating enemies, but he you know he eats a lot and that’s part of his growth, he gets his energy from eating a lot, he loves food.

We thought it was appropriate and that it was a very important factor that we have Goku have something like eating to boost stats, that really reflects his character as well.

And although eating is not particularly required for progressing through the game, unlike other RPGs where you might have temporary buffs, you have temporary buffs in this game, but you also have permanent boosts to your stats as well. So you can level up and enhance yourself as well. So it’s always better to eat.

Twinfinite: So far we’ve seen the Saiyan Saga and the Frieza Saga, and the overall look of the game is very early Dragon Ball. Are you trying to focus on that kind of early Dragon Ball feel or will you be getting into more of the later stuff, like the Buu Saga?

Ryosuke Hara: So we can’t reveal too many details about what’s coming later, as far as where we’re gonna go with the story, but I’m very confident that fans of Dragon Ball will not be disappointed by what we bring to the table.

Twinfinite: With it [the game] coming out next year, are you looking into next-gen consoles or Google Stadia?

Ryosuke Hara: Right now we’re focusing on development for PS4, Xbox, and PC.

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Hayes Madsen
A connoisseur of all things RPG related, and always looking for the artistic expression in gaming. His love of Gundam is only matched by his love of Pizza. Playing Games Since: 1991 Favorite Genres: RPGs, JRPGs, Strategy,