Beelzebub offering a bottle of water while saying "Hey, you okay? Here, have some water."
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

10 Things I Love About Sand Land

A worthy tribute.

Sand Land has so many amazing elements throughout the game. From the very start, you can see how involved the late Akira Toriyama was in the game's creation. It very much feels and looks like his work, and there is a lot to love about this cartoonish action RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world.

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The 10 best things about Sand Land

Beezlebub shrugging while saying "I can't steal souls. And even if could, why would I want to?"
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

Sand Land is a great game to play, no matter which difficulty level you choose when you begin a new game. Easy mode is perfect for RPG gamers who enjoy the narrative of the story, while hard mode is going to be better for those players who want the action scenes to be more challenging. Beyond that, there are so many amazing features; it really brings the best parts of an RPG together in one game that is super enjoyable.

I primarily use the Nintendo Switch for games, so it's a little disappointing that Sand Land isn't available on the Switch. It would make an excellent Switch game; it very much has that kind of feel. Thankfully, it's available on Steam and runs very well on Steam Deck, so all is not lost if you want to play on the go.

Auto-collecting items

Rao's vehicle in the driving around the Sand Land. There are several rock formations in the distance. To the left of, there are notifications telling the player that they have collected Killer Scorpion Venom and a Killer Scorpion Exoskeleton.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

The auto-collect feature is absolutely one of my favorite things about Sand Land. Items automatically come to you after you kill any enemies or hit any plant life/wildlife with your vehicle. You need to be in the general area for them to float over, so just be sure to run/drive by your fallen foes.

I have a pet peeve for having to collect each individual item. As a Disney Dreamlight Valley and Animal Crossing player, it's absolutely the most tedious thing for anyone who is just trying to enjoy a game. I do not want to spend the next 10+ minutes picking up a bunch of items one by one.

The team behind Sand Land (ILCA) made the best possible choice by including an auto-collecting feature and I wish more games would do the same. A quick note: You do have to pick up vehicle parts by yourself, but you can do so from the comfort of your tank.

Cliff climbing

Beezlebub overlooking the wasteland from high up on a cliff. It's night. There are several small and large rock formations around.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

I will admit that I have a certain fondness for climbing cliffs and buildings in RPGs. It started many years ago with various MMORPGs that I was playing, and then I started cycling through the Assassin's Creed series and that just made it so much better.

If you're someone who enjoys climbing to the top of things and jumping off them (looking at you, Genshin Impact fans), you'll find double-jumping your way up the various boulders and cliffs in Sand Land to be rather delightful.

Sneaking/Stealing

Thief stealing supplies from the town of Talbo during the food and water quest. Thief is dressed in a Santa Clause outfit.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

The sneaking and stealing mechanic of the game feels like a lighter version of Assassin's Creed to me. With the white, yellow, and red indicators, there's more of a challenge than just finding the supplies that you're looking for. Plus you get to switch to Thief occasionally to sneak around and steal things instead of being forced to stay in one role—a nice touch.

Related: Sand Land Stealth Mode Complete Guide

Terrain Driving

A round army tank driving down a small incline in the desert, heading towards an opening at the end of the path. There are towering cliffs on both sides.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

Driving across the desert is something that I really enjoyed doing in Sand Land. You can pretty much hit anything you come across, including trees, cacti, raptors, and flat rocks.

Terrain driving is super fun, and by driving over the flat rock formations, you can create a bumpier ride that feels a bit like a Mario Kart race. As long as you don't drive off the edge of the cliff, there aren't any limits to your driving capabilities.

As you continue the game, you'll unlock more vehicles, each with its own capabilities. Rao's car may have been a very basic model, but soon you'll find yourself behind the wheel of a jump-bot or dirt buggy.

Related: What to avoid (and hit) when you’re driving in Sand Land

Dinosaurs (Raptors)

Rao's vehicle near a dead red raptor lying face-down in the sand with its rear in the air.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

I know they're called raptors in the game, but I just remember seeing the first one and blurting out the word "Dinosaurs?!" It's cool to see these kinds of creatures in a post-apocalyptic game and they fit into the environment quite well. Toriyama had several variations of dinosaurs in Dragon Ball, as well, so it feels nostalgic to have them in Sand Land.

Plus, the various crafting materials (Raptor Scales, Glittering Green Scale, and Alpha Raptor Scales, etc.) you can gain from running your vehicle into the Raptors repeatedly or attacking them using hand-to-claw combat, you can eventually make and upgrade vehicle parts.

Cutscene-skipping

The cutscene-skipping feature is a beautiful thing to include in Sand Land. For players who like playing through more than once or trying to speedrun a game, cutscenes can be really tedious.

Once you've played through that part of the game once, you don't want to watch the same scene again if you've just re-loaded your game after dying or failing a mission. Having the ability to skip cutscenes can help you get back to where you were much quicker.

Button-mash attacking

I remember playing the old Dragon Ball Z games on the PlayStation 2 with my brother when we were younger, and the fighting style in Sand Land immediately reminded me of those days. It has almost the exact same feel.

Although there is a strategy to attacking and defending in Sand Land, you can also happily button-mash your way through most fights. This is the perfect feature for narrative gamers who want to play through the game for the story and aren't really fussed about special skills that their character can fight with.

Character design

The first thing I noticed when I started up Sand Land was how similar Beelzebub — the Fiend Prince of demonkind and the main character you play as— is to Dragon Ball's Majin Buu. From the purple cape and pink skin to the secret kindness he has inside, this was a very wistful throwback for me.

There are other similarities between the characters in Sand Land and Dragon Ball, and I really don't mind it. It absolutely feels like Toriyama's work, even though it was completed after he passed. His style is very evident in the design of the characters and their personalities.

Dad Lucifer and soft-hearted Beelzebub

I can't say I was expecting to start this game and have Beelzebub give water to a human child in the first few minutes. I also wasn't expecting dad-coded Lucifer to tell his son to only play his video games in a brightly-lit room. This set the scene of the game for me. In these two interactions, I knew exactly what to expect from the main character afterwards and I haven't been disappointed.

The story

A close-up of Lucifer from Sand Land telling his son that he can only play his console for an hour a day on his return.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

As Akira Toriyama's final farewell, I don't think there could be anything better than Sand Land. It encompasses everything I've come to know about Toriyama's storytelling over the years, and sets several clear messages throughout the gameplay that are important lessons for people of any age.

Sand Land is fun to play, it has humorous and serious moments, and the story behind the events of the game makes you question everyone's motives and how you react to each encounter. This is a heart-warming tale of unlikely allies who have both come from places of hardship. Despite their suffering, they work together for the betterment of their people.

Rest well, Toriyama-sensi. You've left us with something beautiful.

Looking for more Pro Game Guides Sand Land content? Check out our guide on How to climb hills in Sand Land and How to get all the parts for Jump Bot in Sand Land.


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Author
Lyssa Chatterton
Lyssa Chatterton has been a freelance writer for over 6 years, ever since graduating from their Master's degree in Transliteration & Screenwriting. They have worked with clients in practically every industry, including iGaming and TCG/Tabletop news. Lyssa prefers cosy games and indie games, but that doesn't stop them from going all out with a great fantasy RPG or digging out old retro games. An avid fan of Pokémon, Animal Crossing, the Witcher, and Persona, you'll be seeing a wide range of writing from this freelancer.

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10 Things I Love About Sand Land

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