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Analysis | Sand Land has tanks and vehicles as its highlight
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Shortly before passing away last March, the brilliant Akira Toriyama had left a recommendation for his fans. Sand Land, one of his lesser-known works, at least compared to the colossus Dragon Ball, was going to be adapted for video games by Bandai Namco.

The manga master said he was impressed by the polish of the game and the care with which the developers treated his work.

Akira Toriyama is gone, but his legacy remains and, like it or not, the Sand Land game is one of the first tributes and also a continuation of the success of his creations.

The game has its flaws, including its scope and budget, but it also impresses on some fronts. But more importantly, as the master said, he shows great affection for the material that inspired him.

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Desert world

The protagonist is even a demon. Son of the devil himself, Beelzebub, is an extremely charismatic little devil who tries to be evil without much success, as he always ends up helping others and tries to justify it with some excuse later. He makes the humans who live near the base of the demons he lives with, stealing water and other supplies, but sets off on the journey of his life when a human seeks his help in finding a secret oasis that would have enough water to quench his thirst. from everyone.

The game starts from there and tells emblematic moments from the short manga that gave rise to this world, faithfully representing the relationship between Beel, Rao and the other characters that appear during the journey. Even after the manga content ends, the game also adapts the anime episodes, which came later and expands the story, practically a second half for the game. And there are also countless secondary missions that further expand the universe, including some very interesting stories, such as that of a blind girl who began to admire the singing of a demon friend of Beel, in a lesson about not judging a book by its cover.

These secondary stories also end up being the Achilles tendon of the gameplay, as they require extremely repetitive approaches. There is a city that Beel helps to rebuild, recruiting characters released in this type of content. Although it is rewarding to see it grow and new residents open markets and utilities for the battlefield, the missions themselves are tedious and vary little. Apart from a run here or exploring a cave there, the objective is almost always to fight enemies in one location and return with news or someone saved.

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Playing with tanks and vehicles is cool

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Despite Beelzebub's protagonism, what appears most on the screen are the vehicles he drives. The game has an open world and traversal is basically done within them. The designs are iconic and show all of Toriyama's talent, but the gameplay they provide is also a highlight of the campaign.

There are several vehicles to be released. The main one is the tank, which has a cannon, a machine gun and limited mobility, but several others can be created in the city that we are invited to rebuild and exchanged in an instant in the open world to explore or fight. There are bipedal vehicles that can jump and reach new locations, there are motorcycles and cars that are fast and cross quicksand, there are even animals that can also be ridden and have other dynamics.

The customization of these vehicles is also an important part of the game. There are better cannons and parts for everyone. It is very gratifying to see that these cannons and parts change the design of the vehicle. A new shell could make your tank full of metal plate protection, or a new cannon be much larger and more frightening to enemies. On the other hand, in practice they work in a very similar way and only serve as more numbers for damage, except when they have an elemental factor in the ammunition. As the enemies scale with your level, none of this has much of an impact in practice and it's really just a race to not fall behind as you progress through the story.

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The vehicular combat itself is pretty cool. The movement is fluid and the shots have a lot of impact. Those who are not in vehicles go flying into the air, barricades melt and the other tanks do everything they can to avoid being hit, hiding or using their abilities, such as jumping in the case of bipeds, to confuse you. Boss battles can take longer than they should, the famous bullet sponges, but it is almost always challenging in a good way and is not a negative point.

Already playing without them…

The sad thing is when you have to get out of these vehicles to complete a mission. Several locations require the player to walk on foot and fight based on punches. This front of the game feels unfinished and is quite simplistic.

Apart from the buttons for weak and strong blows, there are some abilities for your companions and a special one, but everything is very “stuck”, poorly animated and doesn't work well while you're fighting. You can't change the target by marking opponents, so everything becomes even more difficult to control.

Visually it's not cool and mechanically it's boring. Exploring long caves without being able to use vehicles is not the worst part of the game because there is still a super random and unrewarding stealth system. As the artificial intelligence is very precarious, there is only one state for enemies on patrol and if they see you, this usually happens in a very arbitrary and non-explicit way, you fail and need to start over from a checkpoint right behind.

Pros

  • Vehicle combat is fluid and varied
  • Original material represented faithfully and beautifully
  • Expands the universe created by Akira Toriyama

Cons

  • Side missions are repetitive
  • Combat without a vehicle is unfinished and simplistic
  • Stealth sessions are annoying and take away from the game's rhythm

Rating: 7/10.0

You can see ILCA's affection for the original work, a good choice by Bandai Namco for Sand Land. Toriyama's designs are iconic, the characters are cool and the desert world is super intriguing, which was well represented in the game. There are ups and downs in the gameplay, fighting in vehicles is very cool, while the secondary activities and hand combat are very weak. However, it's still worth playing, especially after the loss of the genius behind this and other works that will be immortalized.

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Analysis | Sand Land has tanks and vehicles as its highlight

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Analysis | Sand Land has tanks and vehicles as its highlight

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