One Piece - Grand Battle
For those of you unfamiliar with the anime, One Piece follows the life of a pirate want to be called Luffy. He inadvertently ate some fruit that turned him into a rubber human being, similar to Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four. Ten years after that incident, Luffy goes on an adventure to find the legendary treasure One Piece that was left behind by the pirate captain G. Roger.
One Piece: Grand Battle is yet another anime fighting game from Bandai, who seems to have really found their niche with the genre. The recently released Inuyasha: Feudal Combat proved to be a passable fighting game that really only fans of the show would appreciate. For the most part, the same thing can be said for One Piece, and youíll get the most out of it if you happen to follow the show.
In my review for Inuyasha: Feudal Combat I compared the game to Power Stone from the days of the SEGA Dreamcast. That is a comparison that is more suited for One Piece: Grand Battle than anything else since the game feels borderline identical. The game has a similar overhead angle, objects to pick up and destroy, and multiple characters running around in the arena. The action is frenetic and nonstop, but can get boring and very repetitive at times.
There is a pretty good selection of playable characters and support characters, but many of them feel too similar. While they are all different personality-wise and style of attacks, they all control the same. That means each of their combos and special moves are performed the same way and it keeps things a little too simple for my taste. To make matters worse, each character has a limited number of moves so essentially when youíve played as one of the pirates, youíve played as them all.
The game features a wealth of modes to explore, though they all center on the basic concept of gameplay. Like Inuyasha: Feudal Combat there is a Story Mode to play through with the gameís characters. This mode will give you a glimpse into the personalities and lives of the combatants, but itís not a very coherent plot and is riddled with poor dialogue. This mode is extremely short and after a mere six battles, youíll beat the game and unlock some bonus material.
The Grand Battle mode is the meat of the game and where most of the fighting will be taking place, especially if you have some friends over. This is kind of a versus mode, though you can tackle the CPU single handed if you want to. The Grand Tourney is basically a multiplayer championship style mode that you play when you really want to see who the cream of the crop is. There are also some available mini-games that serve as a distraction, but still center on the same gameplay concept.
Of course the fighting is where all of the action is, and even though many of the characters feel a little too similar, the game follows through with the fighting. The concept is that two characters are squaring off against each other in an arena, but the kicker is that support characters and sometimes onlookers get into the action. There are also dangerous areas of the various stages that will hurt players if they get too close. You can use this to your advantage as a fighter, but more often than not youíll find yourself on the receiving end just as much. Itís almost embarrassing to be going through a lengthy battle, only to be killed by an angry cow that is running across the screen.
Some power-ups also find their way onto the battlefield in the form of fruit and various other icons. Every once in a while a treasure chest or barrel will appear, leaving you the option to simply destroy it or throw it at your opponent. Once it breaks open many objects will spill out and a mad dash occurs to collect as much as possible. You see, if you get enough fruit youíll gain the ability to unleash a devastating attack. Vice versa, if you collect the right power-up icons, your strength, defense, and speed may go up.
One Piece: Grand Battle will mostly be appreciate by fans of the cracked out anime, but those of you looking for a fun party style game may want to give it a look. The action is fast paced and insane, though due to the repetitive nature of the combat it is better to play this one in short spurts. There is plenty of material and characters to unlock though so thereís enough to keep you coming back for more.
Visually One Piece: Grand Battle is something of a mystery. Iíve caught a few episodes of the show and while I recognize all of the character renditions in the game, I never felt that they were all that faithful. Everyone has been kind of squished into a super deformed version of themselves, and even though they are recognizable, the designs arenít very attractive. However ugly they may be, they do work with the concept and since the entire game matches their design, itís not like they stick out like a sore thumb.
The action can get fairly hectic at times though and when that happens the framerate will drop every now and then. It can be a little frustrating at times, but fortunately it doesnít occur all that often. Whatís more irritating is the fact that lengthy special attack cut scenes canít be skipped, so youíre forced to endure 10-20 seconds of animation for one single strike.
As with many other Bandai projects, the voice actors from the anime lend their talent to the game adaptation. The only problem is that phrases are repeated way too often and in many circumstances, back to back. What dialogue that is here, isnít all that coherent either and is poorly acted out. Iíve seen sound departments that have blown the roof off of anime projects before, but thatís not the case with One Piece. The music and sound effects are a perfect match for the game, but arenít all that spectacular to say the least.
The action is fast and furious, the game wreaks of the One Piece anime and is very reminiscent of Power Stone. Youíd think that all of those things combined would make a fabulous experience that wouldnít be worth missing out on. Unfortunately things are a little too simplistic here and the game is strictly designed to appeal to fans of the anime. Itís not a bad distraction though and could do well for a rental if you are having some buddies and want a crazy party game to play. Rent It