Format: Nintendo 3DS, Release Date: 10/2/2012, Developer: Ganbarion, Genre: Action/Adventure.
Diving into a licenced game when you aren’t familiar with the original material is quite tricky. Characters have their own eccentricities and humour that is more often than not lost on an outsider and huge set pieces and climactic boss fights lose their magic because the player is unfamiliar with the canon. That is the issue that looms like a shadowy figure in a trench coat, ready to kneecap this game at the earliest opportunity. Fans will be comfortable with the cast, from the shrieking skeleton with a giant afro to the bipedal, angry deer. They (the fans) will be prepared. Gamers ignorant of the One Piece series will not.
Follow Captain Monkey. D Luffy and his band of pirates in the pursuit of the coveted ‘One Piece’ treasure. With your motley crew at your side and your trusty ship named Thousand Sunny you will embark upon a voyage across rolling seas and encounter civilisations and obstacles willing to halt your rich ambitions.
Fortunately however, the story and humour is accessible to new players; while there is never a full familiarity, gradually you become used to all the interactions, sort of like at the end of a really good party where everyone gets along despite only having met a few hours ago. Here, the game skips round the potential pothole of having an incomprehensible game world only to fall screaming off a cliff.
This aside, there is a Marineford Mode, enabling players to challenge a number of boss characters from the game, utilising new the new and enhanced yet un-noticable combat system. Running the ship as the captain or one of his crew members, Zoro, Sanji, Robin and Franky among others, there’s certainly an enticement to the game, but not much else.
The licence and characters are let down by a gaming experience that is about as unique and enjoyable as a glass of water. This is very much a stereotypical JRPG experience, but is hamstrung by loose controls, a camera that usually likes pointing at anything other than what’s trying to hit you and monotonous, repetitive gameplay that feels like a chore more than any game has a right to.
That’s not to say One Piece is a completely bad experience, there are just a lot of much better ones out there. If you are a fan of the manga/anime then you may well enjoy this (and you’ve probably already made up your mind about buying it), but for curious outsiders I’d advise them to avoid this. Considering some of the titles that are coming out soon for the 3DS, and the fact that Nintendo’s little migrane-inducing handheld is not doing too well on the market at the moment, this is about as welcome as getting hit in the head by a half-brick in a sock.