There's plenty for Dragon Ball fans to be excited about right now, between the ongoing Galactic Prisoner Arc in the Dragon Ball Super manga and the addition of Dragon Ball Super Broly in Dragon Ball FighterZ. But Bandai Namco has another Dragon Ball project in the works, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, which that might be its most ambitious yet.
For those that don't know, it aims to retell the story of Dragon Ball Z with stunning accuracy, visuals, and gameplay. It's clear that Bandai Namco and developer CyberConnect2 held being faithful to the source material in high regard, so here is every playable character in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot we know of thus far compared to their original anime incarnations.
Of course, the re-creation isn't exact, but it's pretty darn close. Some scenes, such as when Goku transforms into Super Saiyan 3, are re-created almost frame to frame, while others take on changes like slightly different camera angles. The art style is also somewhat different, but feels undeniably Dragon Ball.
This is a screenshot of what is arguably the most iconic moment in the history of anime, Goku's first transformation into a Super Saiyan. This transformation certainly gave viewers goosebumps when it was first seen in the Dragon Ball Z anime, and it does not fail to do so again. There are some noticeable differences, particularly in Goku's aura. It seems more fiery and brighter, as his actual body glows in this new rendition. This seems to be a trend in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot's art style; everything is more. Explosions are more destructive, auras are brighter and more powerful, and so on. Yet despite the differences, Goku still has the same serious look in his eyes. He has the same pose, the same ripped up shirt and even some of the same wounds. Being the game's namesake, and the main character of the franchise, Goku will surely be the character players get to enjoy most throughout the story.
Vegeta, the classic example of a redemptiona arc. He begins as Goku's enemy, transitions into his rival, and eventually comes to call him friend. Vegeta will likely be one of the first major bosses fought in the Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, but fans shouldn't have to wait long for the chance to play him. Once again, striking similarities can be seen between the two screenshots, though it seems developers focused more on posing in this shot. Though there are some differences (Vegeta looks a little worse for wear in the anime depiction), the character design is faithful.
Gohan, the child prodigy, actually sports several different looks throughout Dragon Ball Z's story arcs while he is a kid in the Saiyan Saga and the Frieza Saga. All of these seem to be faithfully recreated in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot from what the trailers and gameplay footage have shown. Finding a good side-by-side image was difficult, however, but it's clear where the inspiration was taken from. The shape of his eyes, his eyebrows, and even his dimples are all almost identical.
Gohan is an extremely unique character in the Dragon Ball franchise. His incredible potential and untapped powers are spoken about by many characters, and he is one of the few characters viewers get to see in almost every stage of his life. It was in his early teenage years when he broke his limits and surpassed even his father, culminating in his epic and memorable one-armed father-son Kamehameha. The whole scene in which Gohan goes Super Saiyan 2 and defeats Cell in particular is incredibly well recreated, and no wonder given that it is a fan favorite. Again, notice the scratches on his forehead and his left arm, for they are identical, with his muscular form and piercing gaze seemingly plucked straight from the anime.
Finally, Gohan's greatest accomplishment in Dragon Ball Z was achieving his Ultimate Gohan form. In this form, Ultimate Gohan effortlessly overpowered Super Buu, a feat that none other aside from maybe Vegito himself could accomplish. Upon Gohan's arrival, he is seen flying directly towards the camera at incredible speeds. Notice though, how in the original anime, he simply flies against a blue background with white lines to show his speed, whereas in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot everything is much more defined and easy to see. Animation techniques that were relied upon in the days of Dragon Ball Z are no longer necessary because creators can depict certain scenes with much more clarity now. The same concept can be said about many other scenes from Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot.
Piccolo is yet another enemy turned friend of Goku's; in fact, this shot is taken just moments before he fires his signature Special Beam Cannon through both Goku and Goku's brother Raditz. Once again, we see Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has opted for a shot from slightly further away, allowing us to see more of Piccolo's clothing and surroundings. In both cases, Piccolo's veins can be seen bulging out of his head, with beads of sweat dripping down. The game's portrayal remains faithful while still adding more detail (see how defined piccolo's ears are, for example).
His dramatic entrance marks the beginning of something amazing, for Trunks is one of the most beloved and tragic characters of the Dragon Ball franchise. After visiting from the future, he shows a revived Frieza that he too can go Super Saiyan. Trunks' design is incredibly true to the source material, even down to the two strands of hair hanging in front of his forehead.
Gotenks is the fusion of Goku's son Goten and Vegeta's son Trunks. Very little has been shown of them, but it is clear they will still utilize their hilarious techniques and overwhelming power. Gotenks was able to go Super Saiyan 3 before either Goten or Trunks learned Super Saiyan 2. Both renditions share the same pose and cocky grin, plus the traditional fusion garb.
Vegito is the fusion of Goku and Vegeta via the potara earrings, used as a last-ditch effort, as they were told (though this has since been retconned in Dragon Ball Super) that the fusion would be permanent. Vegito is the Pinnacle of power in the Dragon Ball Z series, and it shows through his confidence that he knows this. This time, the Super Saiyan aura seems to be very similar, though along with his hair is a little bit brighter. Both incarnations take the same taunting pose, gesturing Super Buu to do his worst. Notice how the camera angle has changed to make Vegito's pose easier to understand.
Overall, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot and its faithful character designs will give long time fans the well-deserved re-imagination of the Dragon Ball Z story that many have waited for. That's not to say that Dragon Ball Z's story hasn't been retold before, but this is looking to be something special. In the end, it will be up to the players to give their stamp of approval.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot will be out on January 17, 2020 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.