I was already on board with Sand Land's open world and gorgeous Dragon Ball-style art, and that was before I knew the action-RPG also has anime Animal Crossing and Mad Max Kart

I was already on board with Sand Land's beautiful open world, based on the relatively obscure manga from Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. Cynics might point to Bandai Namco precedent and say Sand Land is on track to be yet another middling adaptation appealing only to hardcore fans, ala Dragon Ball Kakarot, but I personally gravitate to the almost comfortable consistency in the publisher's vibrant worlds and simple but satisfying gameplay.

Point is, I was reasonably excited for Sand Land before I saw the new nine-minute gameplay trailer, which reveals the dilapidated hub town, Spino, where you can expand and customize your personal living quarters in a variety of diverse styles using furniture and decorations - a lot like Animal Crossing. The trailer shows off a chill hideout, a forest-inspired room, and a "cyber style" living space, and they all look like places I could spend an inordinate amount of time just hanging out in.

Over time, and as you beat enemies and complete side quests, Spino will gradually develop from its ravaged state into a thriving city. As the city expands, you'll be able to find rarer components from its merchants, as well as new services for hire, and "new opportunities for adventure." It doesn't sound like you play a particularly active role in the specific areas in which Spino grows, but it's neat that it opens up new gear and quests. And just visually, I'm really into this area.

We've seen some Mad Max vibes in Sand Land before with its extensive vehicle customization and post apocalyptic environments, and the latest trailer dives even more into that side of things. In particular, you'll interact with an NPC named Ann at the garage in Spino to equip vehicles with rocket launchers, lasers, machine guns, and shotguns; upgrade their traversal capabilities and durability, and tinker with their appearances to suit your style.

Sand Land

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

What we didn't know was that Sand Land is hiding a flippin' Mario Kart mini-game that lets you test our your kitted out vehicles in fast-paced races through various terrains. There's even a 3-2-1 countdown timer at the beginning of each race that really sells the whole 'Dragon Ball Kart' concept, which is something I absolutely didn't know I needed until now.

Sand Land is due to launch on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, and PC on April 24. It's definitely too early to tell whether it'll have broad appeal or just nestle itself quietly into Bandai's sizable catalog of vaguely similar looking games, but either way, I can't wait get down with some anime Animal Crossing and Mad Max Kart.

In the meantime, here are some of the best JRPGs you can play today.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.