Sand Land gets everywhere at SDCC

Plenty of things get buried in the desert and it seems the winds of time have uncovered something from renowned mangaka Akira Toriyama. Best known for works such as Dr. Slump and of course Dragon Ball, Toriyama has worked on smaller projects in hopes of breaking away from his known IPs and Sand Land is one of them. Completed in under 4 months, it tells a tale of a world where water is scarce and the prince of demons has teamed up with an elderly man to uncover a new water supply that can meet the people’s needs.

Despite being a property that is over twenty years old, it got a new shot of interest when a new film was announced this year on March 22nd, World Water Day of all days. It’s theatrical release in Japan is set for August 18th, however the film got a premiere at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, where attendees would receive a free hat and shirt for their attendance (unfortunately it’s showtime was well past my comic con hours of 6pm…I’m getting too old for this.). I did however get a hands on with the open world action title that Bandai Namco announced this June.

I could’ve gotten a run of the mill demo standing at a kiosk, but the staff was willing to let me demo the title while sitting inside a replica of the tank found in the game. The start of the title has the trio of Beezelbub, Rao and Thief driving to a nearby village after getting some supplies. Their quiet journey is disrupted when a creature known as the Geji Dragon catches a whiff of the trio and begins to give chase. This is the part where I first take control. In a sequence reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot chase sequence, you’re controlling a vehicle driving towards your screen, hoping to dodge the dragon’s advances. After a set distance the chase ends and while we escaped with our lives…our supplies were not as fortunate. Seeing an arch in the distance, Rao recommends moving towards it in hopes of finding supplies.

We enter the open world phase of this demo. You have access to your cart, but after a short drive I happened upon a tank with their drivers outside of the cockpit. After a short skirmish which included auto targeting, a mix of weak/strong attacks and dodge rolls I was able to put down the pilots and abscond with their tank. Tank controls felt good, switching between the cannon and machine was easy. Aiming down sight and mowing down various creatures would yield materials that I’m sure I’ll be able to craft with later.

My journey to the arch would have a couple of detours as I would see caves which featured some enemies and crates I could loot. At this point the game was really giving me some Metal Max Xeno vibes. Our arrival at the arch triggered a cutscene where we were ambushed by a group of bandits. I was a little perturbed because my tank disappeared and it was replaced with the cart we started our demo with. Thankfully I could take my rage out on my ambushers. Again the auto targeting made combat a breeze although I wish I knew how to switch targeting, but I made short work of the gang nonetheless. Then abruptly the demo ended.

While I came in knowing nothing about the IP, I felt the game helped introduce me to a brand new world that I’d like to explore. Speaking to a Namco Bandai Rep, I was informed that if I wasn’t so keen on following mission prompts I would’ve been able to find some creatures that would’ve been a challenge to fight. So it’s good to know that the world of sand land is full of surprises. Before I left the booth on the show floor I took another survey of it and noticed displays of model kits of the tank, action figures of Beezelbub and the crew. Looks like the IP is going to get the full multimedia push and I’m looking forward to seeing if Akira Toriyama will be known for more than just Dragon Ball.

Sand Land still has yet to receive a release date, but it will appear on PC, PlayStation 4, 5 and the Xbox Series X|S