Namco Bandai has been making SJ fans’ dreams come true with all the games they’ve brought stateside, and they’re not done yet! One of the more interesting games they’ve got on the horizon is One Piece: Romance Dawn. It’s an RPG for the 3DS that is scheduled to get a physical boxed release February 11th. They popped by Shonen Jump headquarters and let me give it a go. Here’s what I thought…
The game starts in Luffy’s hometown of Windmill Village and goes all the way to the Marineford. You’ll be able to stop along the way at all the main locales from the story, plus some new extra areas. The areas are color coded to tell you what you can do there. For instance, ports with yellow dots are story-based levels you can play through. Areas with green dots are story only, and you’ll get to watch anime clips or characters act out the scenes. Places with red dots are optional and will help you level up your characters.
The world is represented by a giant map, with little structures on each island to represent what it is. Stuff like buildings, trees, ships, etc. You travel from place to place in a little Going Merry. I have to say, it’s kind of adorable.
For the most part, when you land on a playable area, you’ll get to play as crew members specific to that part of the story. It might just be one character, or a whole group. But on some levels, you'll get to choose which members to take with you, or even switch them out during the level.
In these playable areas, you’ll be fighting a lot of bad guys. The battle system is a turn-based free-roaming hybrid that allows you to position yourself in the battlefield, before you choose your move. This has tactical advantages, because you can line up enemies and knock them into each other and off of walls nearby to increase damage. Not only will they take more damage, they’ll be more likely to drop treasure.
Each move in battle, you have a limited amount of Attack Points that determine how many attacks you can use. When I was playing Luffy, I was able to pull off a few attacks on each enemy. And sometimes, after special attacks you can do a Grand Chain and do even more damage. According to the Namco PR lady, these were random and not based on any specific set of circumstances.
To pull off the super moves, you’ll have to charge up your Tension Points. You can do so by doing regular attacks on enemies. Aside from attacking, you can guard, run, or do special moves like Luffy’s Gear, which unlocks a more powerful move set for the next turn, or Chopper’s Emergency Surgery, where he heals the whole group.
Of course, you don't have to fight the enemies at all. If you’re fast enough, you can dodge them entirely and proceed deeper into the level. And during certain parts, the game goes into Grand Stream Action mode and you’ll be running along and must make split-second decisions to dodge enemies or time-based attacks to break through barriers.
The game also has an item creation system that allows you to combine various ingredients to make brand new items. You can then use these items to make new gear that will give you stat bonuses. In fact, gear plays a pretty big part in the game and let’s you customize your characters in wacky ways. And you can also make consumable items to heal yourself, revive a fallen foe, etc.
Boss fights will test your mettle much more than the regular mobs. And the right gear can help you immensely in your fights. For instance, when fighting Crocodile, you’ll get by him a lot faster if you use a water talisman, as he’s weak to water. So you’ll have to use more than your fists to get past some of the main bad guys.
This is a cool little game. The world is bright and colorful, the combat system is fun, and it looks pretty meaty (pun intended). In fact, the Namco PR lady said it should be good for at least 20+ hours of gameplay. And the good news is, the game’s going to get a physical boxed release! And the first run will have a special foil cover for all you collectors. The only bad news is, it’s only going to have a Japanese language track with English subtitles. But it’s amazing it’s coming out at all, and as a physical release, so I cant really get too steamed.
The game comes out February 11th, so write it down in your logbooks!
© EIICHIRO ODA/SHUEISHA, TOEI ANIMATION
License coordinated by FUNimation® Productions, Ltd.
by Urian Brown