It’s a not a stretch to say that One Piece is one of the best anime shows currently airing. Luffy and his rag tag crew jump from adventures like a hyperactive bouncy ball. Following The Straw Hats from when they first set sail to the Impel Down arc is a wonderful ride all over again. Particularly the iconic scenes from the series that received a fresh coat of paint so they could be used as cut scenes. It all lends itself to be a fantastic experience for any One Piece fan.
The battle system in One Piece Romance Dawn (Nintendo 3DS) is a slight spin on traditional turn-based combat. Rather than being stuck in one place attacking a foe, you have to position yourself to maximize damage. Add in super moves and forgoing turns to accumulate extra moves creates quite a dynamic fight that takes just as much thinking as any turn based RPG. That’s where the mental maneuvering ceases as all the battles play out exactly the same. There simply isn’t enough excitement because many of the fights are against faceless goons rather than fearsome foes. The side missions exasperate the situation as many of them are a breeze and feel like nothing more than gears to grind. Leveling up is slow on giving any new moves either, making a new super that was glorious a few minutes ago get dull fairly quickly. Along with this comes the annoying standard in many anime-licensed games of having a few characters that aren’t worth playing because of they’re constantly inferior stats. What point is there to level up the second mate if they’ll never measure up to the captain? It all ends up feeling like going through the motions, which won’t be nearly as noticeable if the narrative wasn’t just as rehashed.
One Piece has a rousing story of a boy who sets out for adventure like a dozen other tales before that. If you’re reading this you probably know of Luffy’s fight with Buggy or Ace’s tragic demise against Akainu. So it’s a surprise that when that gets told yet again when so many other important events have occurred since then. Dialogue is presented strangely as well, with floating boxes rather than a character portrait that would’ve been far easier on the eyes. Also some baddies had their defeat animated while others didn’t for seemingly no reason. Why is Don Krieg’s defeat considered more important than Buggy’s or Kuro’s? While these mild complaints took their toll during the campaign, it was only because of how impressively long it is. This game practically encompasses the entire story before the time skip, which was a great refresher course.
If you can look past the repetitiveness this game is a solid turn-based/ beat-em-up hybrid. Most of the characters feel wonderfully powerful, but that makes the secondary crew members feel that much more useless. This game seems to serve as the cliff notes version of the anime, with only the most powerful moments highlighted and hired henchmen for filler. It’s great for short bursts, but long stints can feel like a Gum-Gum Bazooka to the face. This voyage is a bumpy ride, but one worth going on if you’ve had even a passing interest in finding Gol. D. Roger’s infamous treasure.
One Piece Romance Dawn Trailer