Sand Land introduces the Hearts gang and the new Forest Land gameplay

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Sand Land introduces the Hearts gang and the new Forest Land gameplay

Beelzebub stars in his first video game battling the Hearts and exploring new lands beyond the original story.

Earlier this month, the world lost a one-of-a-kind creative talent with the news of Akira Toriyama’s passing. While Dragon Ball will always be Toriyama-sensei’s best-known work, he leaves behind a legacy full of many other imaginative worlds across games, anime, and manga. Before leaving us, he worked with Bandai Namco to flesh out one of his short manga creations further: Sand Land. Alongside a new anime series, Toriyama-sensei gave input on a videogame adaptation of Sand Land that would allow players to explore this unique world for themselves.

The classic manga Sand Land lives on in Bandai Namco’s new game, which ventures beyond where the original story concludes. Read on to find out what new adventures await our mech-powered demon hero in the wetlands, caves, and Forest Land. Speaking of Forest Land, we also have a reveal of new gameplay from the woodland biome.

Sand Land introduces the Hearts gang and the new Forest Land gameplay

Every demon has his day

Sand Land follows the exploits of Beelzebub, the prince of a tribe of demons living in a vast desert environment known as Sand Land. Because of his heritage, Beelzebub is mischievous, spoiled, and snarky, but he’s also got a soft spot for helping others in need and a strong sense of justice — even if he won’t admit it. Sand Land is facing a crisis: water is becoming increasingly scarce, as a selfish human king is hoarding the live-giving resource. While Sand Land descends into chaos as fighting over the limited supply intensifies, Sheriff Rao approaches the demons to help liberate the water supply. Beelzebub, his handservant Thief, and the ever-mysterious Rao to help Sand Land and maybe even realms beyond. 

Sand Land is an action RPG with a vast world to explore. You directly control Beelzebub, who is accompanied by companions Thief and Rao. Beelzebub is the one who gets in the thick of most of the action, using hand-to-hand combat and dark magic to overcome his foes. The other characters provide support and advice, bantering with the Prince about current events and suggesting where to go and what to do next.

Beelzebub is pretty nimble on foot, but one element that sets Sand Land apart from other titles is its emphasis on vehicles. Beelzebub can acquire and upgrade a huge variety of sweet rides: bikes, tanks, hovercraft, dune buggies, and more. Each vehicle is tailor-made for certain terrain and combat situations: bikes can get you around basic terrain with ease and speed, while jump-bots can help you spring up to higher ground, and tanks are, well, tanky. Vehicles you acquire can be upgraded and customized with weapons, paint, and emblems to make them each uniquely yours.

What’s especially handy is that Beelzebub can call upon many of his vehicles with a few button presses. All it takes is a poof, and you’ve got some mega mobility or heavy firepower right next to you, ready to go. Of course, these machines aren’t invincible, and you’ll need to keep your ammo stocks replenished. Still, when you need to scale that cliff or cross that moat, you’ve got your necessary equipment at hand–and sometimes you can just hijack something neat-looking you find lying around. Sometimes, your sweet ride might even be alive.

Into the woods

Sand Land is a huge game. Not only do you have all of Sand Land to explore — and the base of Spino to rebuild — but the story continues past the manga’s ending and introduces a whole extra setting to explore: the verdant Forest Land.

After fighting through a sprawling dungeon, we washed up in this new environment. It was clear it would be no walk in the park — there was a lot of sinister scheming among the Forest Land military. We were then tasked with rescuing a lass named Ann from her captors. It’s not an easy feat since she’s holed up in a fort teeming with guardian soldiers.

But Beelzebub knows how to be a sneaky little devil and has just the right moves to creep up on—and then scare the bejeezus out of—some hapless troopers who’ve never seen a real demon before.

Not everyone’s going to faint when they see a scary face, though. Fortunately, that’s where the tank comes in. Bringing out the big guns and making expert use of the tank’s special Outrigger ability laid waste to Ann’s captors—and when we faced off against the boss, we got to hijack some sweet melee-mashing battle armor to bring home with us.

Taking on the world

Sand Land is brimming with sidequests and activities outside the main story missions. Beelzebub is eager to prove his greatness, and to that end, he’s happy to help his fellow demons and, well, maybe some humans too. Monster problems? Special deliveries? Unexplored territory? This Prince can handle it all.

Of course, with miscreants running rampant across Sand Land, it only makes sense that there would be bounties on some of the more notorious creatures and criminals. Several gangs named after card suits occupy their territories and don’t take kindly to intruders. One such gang, the Hearts, has a unique sense of decor for their not-so-hidden hideout. If Beelzebub can infiltrate their HQ, he’ll find that there’s a big bounty on the leader—but he’s not going down without a fight.

Sand Land looks set to deliver on a significant promise: immersing you in Toriyama-sensei’s big, beautiful world and epic story. With graphics that capture the manga’s intricate linework, characters and interactions filled with intrigue and humor, and a whole lot of raptor-riding, magic-wielding, tank-busting action, it’s hard to imagine a better tribute to the life and legacy of Akira Toriyama.

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