Previously, on Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot: The hit game at one point featured a style reminiscent of its manga source material. A piece from the Japanese magazine CGWorld this month features an interview with the developers of Kakarot in which a completely different style of cel-shading is displayed from the early development of the game. These screens feature much more of a manga-influenced look, with a washed-out, faded design to the lines that make the game look downright nostalgic.
In the interview, the development team talked about how they went straight to Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama and his source materials, looking at everything from the grain of past manuscripts to how the original anime was colorized in an attempt to recreate that rough-hewn look that is now the trademark of the legendary, late ’80s anime and manga. Ultimately, the team shifted away from this design for gameplay and visualization reasons. Lead Director Akihiro Anai said, “We struggled with the fusion of visual concept and gameplay.”
The screens also reveal a much different user interface than the final product, with simplified bars and even a dedicated location for the character’s experience points. It’s hard to look at these screenshots and not be bummed about this version of the game never seeing light. That said, Kakarot is far more of an RPG than almost any previous Dragon Ball game and given its success in 2020 we may very well see more Dragon Ball in the future with this design philosophy.
Even if you’re reading the piece through Google Translate, the CGWorld piece includes a wealth of information on the early development of Kakarot, right down to displaying the texture patterns used to make Goku. It’s worth a read if you’re a lapsed fan of the series or simply enjoy seeing where a game starts versus where it ends up.