Akira Toriyama’s ‘Sand Land’ Video Game Captures Vehicular Combat Flawlessly In Upcoming Action RPG

Following Dragon Ball‘s massive global success, Akira Toriyama’s next manga project arrived much smaller in scale, in the form of Sand Land, a one-shot series that ran from May to August 2000. Within that, Toriyama introduced audiences to a world where demons and humans exist in the same world, and water becomes a much-coveted commodity whose supply is hoarded by the king of the land. 

While smaller and more intimate, it has its fans and will finally make the transition to TV and video games, ironically in the year that Toriyama-san passed away. Fans of the series would be happy to know that Toriyama wrote a new arc to accompany the Disney+ series, and the game adapts both, which has players follow the unlikely trio of Beelzebub, Thief, and Rao across the vast desert nd we see the trio form an unlikely alliance between demon and human, as they find a new source of water and quench civilization’s thirst. It’s a well-trodden trope and depending on your medium of preference, both are great ways to continue to enjoy Toriyama’s legacy, though the video game might be the best form of entertainment to capture the spirit of Sand Land.

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The game taps on one of the manga’s main characteristics – the vehicles and tanks, which was something Toriyama initially found difficult to illustrate. Considering that all of Sand Land’s various vehicle designs were iconic and distinct in their own right,  it’s a wonder that he was able to push through this hurdle and the rest is history. 

sand land

With the upcoming Sand Land video game developed by ILCA, the same folks behind 2023’s One Piece Odyssey, we had a chance to give the game a spin at the local Bandai Namco offices in Singapore. The game itself was in the mid to late stages, which fortunately gave us access to quite a few iconic vehicles for a test drive.

In many similar games in the action RPG space, the world of Sand Land is vast with plenty of waypoints and points of interest to distract players from the main quest line. At the same time, to prevent players from burning through the game too fast, much of this traversal is padded with getting from point A to point B on foot. Thankfully, ILCA gives players a chance to leap into the iconic tanks almost immediately, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The cool focus of Sand Land is being able to toggle between vehicles on the fly, save for a brief animation. Depending on your preferred playstyle, one could swap between tank, hovercraft, hover tank, mech, and bike all at the same time. This gives you access to a variety of weapons and abilities as each vehicle type has its strengths and drawbacks. For instance, the motorcycles reach the highest top speeds and have great maneuverability but are fragile against enemies of equal level, whereas mechs are naturally slow but pack a punch. 

However, the real goal of the game is not to obtain the best vehicle and have it be the swiss army knife in all situations. In the demo we played, a boss fight with a giant kraken takes place in a room with small islands with plenty of water in between. While the fight could be conquered just by using the hovercraft alone to get around, toggling to the tank at specific moments of the fight actually makes overall combat much easier. Ultimately, it’s still down to players on how they prefer to tackle the game, but each vehicle has distinct handling and feels polished, which helps separate how each vehicle feels when piloted. It’s a great experience to get into the heart of Toriyama’s designs and actually have them interact with the world that he had created.

sand land

While the original manga covers the Demon Price arc, the Sand Land video game will follow in the same footsteps as the new TV series and include characters from the new Angelic Heroes arc as well. Key characters that will be introduced are the mechanic, Ann, and an ‘angel’ in the form of Muniel serving as a key antagonist. It won’t be just sand dunes players will be traversing over as we got a chance to peek into the Forest Land which is naturally more lush than where we initially originated from. 

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Despite our short time with the demo, Sand Land feels fleshed out, and what we’ve described is only a peek at what the game has to offer. There are plenty of customization options available when making your vehicle truly one-of-a-kind which changes its overall look which is reminiscent of Armoured Core by Bandai Namco. Overall, it feels like the world of Sand Land is shaping up extremely well and fans will be able to experience the world themselves across a variety of mediums. 

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Here’s hoping the final game lives up to the creator’s vision as Toriyama’s legacy is more than just Dragon Ball, and fans of that series will want to check this out as well.