There's One Really Good Music Cue in a Dragon Ball Z Kakarot

There's One Really Good Music Cue in a Dragon Ball Z Kakarot

Taking on Raditz signals a very familiar, and unexpected, Dragon Ball Z tune.

The pitch for Dragon Ball Z Kakarot is promising. An open-world action-RPG, repurposing the biggest plots and battles of Dragon Ball Z's long history. The bummer part is that the open-world is sparse and the combat doesn't feel as cool as maybe going Super Saiyan should. Dragon Ball's universe seems rich for a true open-world game adaptation with its mixture of sci-fi cities and fantasy flourishes. Instead what we find are barren grassy plains, teeny tiny cars driving on barely visible roads, and the occasional character standing in the middle of nowhere offering up fetch quests, like Oolong.

Sure, you can swoop down from Goku's cloud to punch cars while your following companion Piccolo whines about something, but otherwise, there isn't much joy to be found in this little slice of Dragon Ball Z. Considering last year's smash hit of Dragon Ball FighterZ, a fighting game from Arc System Works that's equal parts fan service and a stellar fighter, perhaps it was too good to be true to hope for another Dragon Ball-related game to wow us.

But at the very least, there is one moment of my extended demo with Dragon Ball Z Kakarot that gave me hope. On the opposite end of the piece of land is a deep crater, and waiting in front of it is Raditz, the brother of Goku, who has kidnapped Goku's son Gohan. Together with Piccolo, they confront Raditz and initiate a battle.

Phase One is dull, with a lot of button tapping, side dodging, locking on as Raditz zips around, and the occasional special move like Kamehameha. It's Phase Two that stands out, which kicks off after a cutscene where Piccolo informs Goku that he may have the winning move to defeat Raditz (the Special Beam Cannon), if Goku is down to hang tight with the more powerful adversary in battle for a few minutes alone while he charges up. (On a side note, Dragon Ball Z basically operates like a video game, arbitrary battle stalling and all!)

With Goku now on his own against Raditz, in chimes a very familiar music cue. It's the original Dragon Ball Z anime opening, "Cha-La Head Cha-La," sung with gusto by Hironobu Kageyama. It's unexpected, considering the minimal and barely existent use of music before this moment. Still, knowing what lies ahead in this landmark battle of the series, it's a welcome one.

Unfortunately, the difficulty ramped up, and with the testy lock-on system, I found myself dying again and again to Raditz, where I had to repeat Phase One just to return to the cool music moment. In the show—spoilers ahead—Raditz mortally wounds Goku, but luckily, a newly emerged Gohan, a dying Goku, and Piccolo are able to return the favor to Raditz, with Goku making the ultimate sacrifice of his own life in order to finish him off.

Piccolo and Goku were already buddies in the demo I played. | CyberConnect2/Bandai Namco

Since I couldn't get past Phase Two, who knows if this properly shakes out in Kakarot. My guess is that it does, as from what I saw it already has Piccolo's "hold on bro, I gotta charge up for a few minutes, can you handle this dude?" moment.

While the action itself is clunky and the open-world doesn't take advantage of the rich aesthetic of Dragon Ball Z, the start of that golden music cue did admittedly bring a smile to my face. I can't say I had a swell time demoing Dragon Ball Z Kakarot, but I can say that at least it's not being shy about callbacks to the anime that helped make Dragon Ball a sensation across the world and remain beloved even three decades later.

Dragon Ball Z Kakarot is being developed by CyberConnect2 of .hack and Naruto Shippuden fame, and will be published by Bandai Namco. It doesn't have a release window, but it's in-development for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Soon, we will all fly away. Raditz be damned.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Caty McCarthy

Features Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's official altgame enthusiast.

Read this next

Bloodlines 2 Delayed to Avoid the Issues That Plagued the Original

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is still targeted for 2020, but it'll come out later than Hardsuit Labs had initially hoped.

Fortnite XP Guide - How to Earn XP and Increase Your Level

This is our guide to the new Fortnite XP system, and how you can earn XP to increase your overall level.

Fortnite Medals List - How to Earn New Medals and Refresh the Punchcard

This is our full guide to the new Fortnite Medals system, including how to earn them, and times for the Punchcard refresh.

Fortnite 2 Map - All Named Locations and Landmarks on the New Fortnite Map

This is your overview to the Fortnite 2 map, including all the new landmarks and named locations on the Chapter 2 map.

More Opinions

Why The Division 2 Is Still Hard to Jump Back Into

With the new Title Update and Episode, The Division 2 should be easier to get into, but it's not.

Starting Screen | Blizzard's Troubled 2019 Finds the Once Invincible Studio at a Crossroads

This past year has found Blizzard embroiled in one controversy after another. What does it say about its future?

"It's Hypocritical for Blizzard to Punish Blitzchung but Not Us"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Activision Blizzard has always been a vigorous advocate for freedom of expression.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is Still Lacking the One Thing Fans Truly Want

Hardcore fans want Breakpoint to be a harder survival experience.

More on PC

Bloodlines 2 Delayed to Avoid the Issues That Plagued the Original

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is still targeted for 2020, but it'll come out later than Hardsuit Labs had initially hoped.

Fortnite XP Guide - How to Earn XP and Increase Your Level

This is our guide to the new Fortnite XP system, and how you can earn XP to increase your overall level.

Fortnite Medals List - How to Earn New Medals and Refresh the Punchcard

This is our full guide to the new Fortnite Medals system, including how to earn them, and times for the Punchcard refresh.

Fortnite 2 Map - All Named Locations and Landmarks on the New Fortnite Map

This is your overview to the Fortnite 2 map, including all the new landmarks and named locations on the Chapter 2 map.

Why The Division 2 Is Still Hard to Jump Back Into

With the new Title Update and Episode, The Division 2 should be easier to get into, but it's not.

G2A Representative: "Do You Really Think You Could Illegally Obtain 100,000 Keys?"

Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, G2A's head of communication Maciej Kuc fires back at critics of the key selling marketplace.

More Action Adventure Games

Starting Screen | A Great Port Is Always Worth the Wait

Whatever time it takes to make a game feel just right on a new system is well-spent.

The Lineup for Awesome Games Done Quick 2020 Includes Sekiro, Final Fantasy 8, and a Destiny 2 Raid

It will no doubt make any future raid time of mine look embarrassing.

Kamala Khan Stretches Her Way Onto the Playable Roster for Marvel's Avengers

Marvel's Ms. Marvel is here to get the Avengers back in action.

Shenmue 3 Looks Modern, but its Dialogue is Vintage Dreamcast

Don't forget to buy tokens if you wanna play.