If there’s a video game franchise and an anime franchise that would seem like a match made in heaven, it’s One Piece and the Musou (Dynasty Warriors style game) series. One Piece is full of characters with varied powers and fighting styles that go on adventures and fight lots of bad guys. The Musou games are filled with characters with varied powers and fighting styles that go on adventures and fight lots of bad guys. So do they mesh well?
Yes they do! Aside from some minor complaints, the two come together wonderfully.
The story in the game is told through the Straw Hats recounting their early adventures together. From there, an animated comic with a narrator fills players in on the details of each saga to set up the levels. This could have easily been handled with a paragraph of text, but it’s nice that the developers went the extra step. In fact, the whole game has great production values that go above and beyond the typical anime game.
The levels are your usual Musou affair: You run around beating up wave after wave of bad guy, then fight a boss. It’s a style of gameplay that some consider mindless, but others embrace. I’ve played my share of Dynasty Warriors games (including the first, a two-person fighting game!), and these games lull me into a kind of enjoyable zen state. That being said, this game is a bit livelier than most Musou games because of the character’s super-crazy fighting moves, the fun colorful settings and wacky bad guys.
The boss fights in the game are nearly as wild as they are in the manga or anime. The boss fight patterns are fairly standard—wait for the boss to attack, dodge and counter attack. But sometimes there's a bit of a twist, like in Wapol's fight where you have to lead him in a path that causes him to eat too much and become vulnerable. While the boss fights are for the most part fun, I did encounter some camera issues that made the battles harder than they should have been. But there’s plenty of meat around to replenish your health, and you can always lower the difficulty if you’re having a hard time.
There are also some platformer gameplay elements that break up the crowd-fighting and boss battles. For instance, Luffy can use his super-stretchy arms to slingshot him into new areas. Sometimes this works wonderfully, like when you have to dodge obstacles midair or smash through them, but other times, like when you’re spinning in the air trying to aim your control stick at the next grab point, it feels awkward.
The game also features a coin-based stat-boosting feature that lets you choose which stats you want to boost by placing coins won from battles or found. And if you assign specific coins together, like a Luffy, Nami and Sanji coin combo, you can get an extra boost.
There’s a fair amount of replay value, since you can go back and replay previous chapters with new characters or play online with other people. There’s also a challenge mode where you can only win by fulfilling a specific set of goals.
Some people may balk at the thought of a $50 download-only game, but it is a hefty game coming in at 11 gigs. You’re getting a full game here, make no doubt, so you’ll wanna give yourself plenty o' time to download this baby. Like, overnight, basically.
The real magic of the game is seeing the amazing One Piece characters 3D rendered. The colors are so bright, the character models look great, and seeing them in action makes them truly come to life in a new way. The screenshots do not do it justice!
Without a doubt, this game is a must-have for One Piece fans. We haven’t had a One Piece game in years, and we’ve never had one with this level of production values or on this scale. Though some elements of gameplay are a little wonky, the core gameplay is solid and, more importantly, a whole lot of fun. So One Piece fans, get your Straw Hat on!!!
Hint: Hold down your attack buttons to charge up and do more damage!
by Urian Brown
© EIICHIRO ODA/SHUEISHA, TOEI ANIMATION
License coordinated by FUNimation(r) Productions, Ltd.
Game © 2012 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc., Developed by TECMO KOEI GAMES CO., LTD.