The story of Dragon Ball Z is well known by many adult gamers who grew up with the franchise. Goku is our hero from Planet Vegeta and battles evildoers such as Frieza, Cell, and Kid Buu. The story has been told in the original manga, anime, and many video games. The franchise has many games throughout every generation of video game console and Bandai currently has the license to produce games for the series.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is the most recent game, featuring an open world for players to explore and solid gameplay compared with previous games. However, its story follows the same events from Dragon Ball Z – again. It’s the tale of Goku and his friends from the Saiyan Saga to the Majin Buu Saga. Many previous games have already followed this formula for the story.
The Same Narrative
How many times can Bandai and other developers reuse the original Dragon Ball Z story in a video game? The vast majority of Dragon Ball Z games features the original stories from the manga and anime. Players are not getting new material from this experience, with each game featuring repetitive content that we’ve seen dozens of times before. I can’t think of another video game series that has reused content to this degree.
I do not need to see Goku become a Super Saiyan for the first time in every game. That is no longer fresh content for the franchise. Recreations of the same scenes are not offering anything new to the table. The story has become stale, which in turn makes a significant portion of any game that features it stale.
Thus, most Dragon Ball Z titles only offer a new experience in terms of gameplay. Fortunately, many of the franchise’s games are very fun games to play, and Bandai has greatly improved the quality in recent years. The controls are nice and tight with a good flow, while the graphics have a good design that fits in with the series anime style.
Unfortunately, these games lack an incentive to progress to the next stage for additional story. Players already know the next event in the story. I am never excited to see an upcoming cut scene. I already know Goku will sacrifice himself to save Piccolo and Gohan and defeat Raditz. There is not an element of surprise or the unknown. Us adult gamers have seen many variations of the same cut scenes for over three decades.
In addition, most Dragon Ball games do not have special moments to remember. Many players praise amazing cutscenes such as (SPOILER ALERT!) Sephiroth killing Aerith in Final Fantasy VII, Albert Wesker and Oswell Edgar Spencer in Resident Evil 5, and Link’s and Zelda’s escape from Hyrule in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Those moments in those games really elevated the experience. Like many adult gamers, the joy for these games partly come from those cutscenes. Dragon Ball Z’s video games do not have any new or special moments due to their repeated use of the same story, which significantly dampens the experience and ruins the memorability of the titles.
Fresh Material From a Few Recent Games
Fortunately, there are a few Dragon Ball Z games with new stories, and they bring fresh plots to the table. Dragon Ball Z Xenoverse 2 and Dragon Ball FighterZ are fighting games with new characters and storylines. Both games received praise for their innovation in the franchise. The new storylines in each game offer a new experience and create new lore just for those games. Their stories are not part of the official story from the manga, but the stories are very enjoyable to play through and stay true to what makes the manga special.
Furthermore, Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best Dragon Ball Z video games, period. The game’s new story introduces Android 21, a new character with a major role in the story. She received warm acceptance from fans due to her beautiful design and personality. The story gives many reasons to care about the plot and Android 21. Her background is tied to the events of the original story as she is a creation of Dr. Gero.
Reinvent The Wheel
Dragon Ball Z should take notes from the approach that many comics have taken to reinvent their stories. DC Comics and Marvel have rebooted their respective series on many occasions. Bandai can do the same thing for a Dragon Ball Z video game. They have already introduced the multi-verse in Dragon Ball Super; they could take that one step further and create an alternate universe with different events for Goku and friends in a video game.
There is a lot of potential for amazing stories if Bandai reboots the series in a video game, completely separate from the official story from the manga. It could offer many possible scenarios. For example, Grandpa Gohan could be alive and Goku could have a different experience as a teenager. Bandai can introduce new heroes and villains and have different conclusions for conflicts, which would have significant ramifications moving forward.
Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball, created the original characters for Dragon Ball Z Xenoverse 2 & Dragon Ball FighterZ. He has also played a role in Dragon Ball Super. Bandai can turn to him for creating a reboot for a video game’s story. Fans would strongly support a game with new ideas for a reboot if he was involved, especially if he was the head writer on the project.
The world does not need yet another Dragon Ball Z game about Goku learning his heritage and defeating Majin Buu at the game’s final chapter. We have been here and done that in plenty of games – too many, in fact. It is time for Bandai to significantly raise the bar and deliver new and amazing plots for Dragon Ball Z games, continuing the stories and trends from the Dragon Ball Xenoverse series and Dragon Ball FighterZ. It’s what us Dragon Ball Z fans deserve.