The Assembly Line

One Piece: Grand Battle

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Before I even begin this review, I'm going to say one thing. If you are not a fan of this show (Japanese or American version, it doesn't matter), then you probably won't be interested in this title and surely won't appreciate it nearly as much as fans might. This is the way practically every anime game works.

I'm not going to lie to you. One Piece is my favorite Japanese anime title of all time. Don't ask me why; I'm still trying to figure it out myself. When I found out this game was coming to the states, I was a bit skeptical. I think just about everyone who knows anime-based games knows that they almost always come out horrible in the end. So don't go thinking that I'm going to have a bias towards this game just because of my love for the series. If anything, that's only going to make me go harder on this title, instead of the other way around. Now, let's get started.

As for the story..., well, it's a fighter, so don't be expecting too much more than what's already been presented in the series. Pirates around the world are trying to find One Piece, the legendary treasure sure to make any pirate's dream come true. The main characters consist of Monkey D. Luffy, a bit of a clutz, who accidently ate a cursed fruit, granting him the ability to make his body rubberlike and flexible (making for some interesting fight scenes in the series), the pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro (yes, they call him 'Zolo' in the game because that was the English translation. I prefer his original name myself.), a near-master swordsman who can wield three blades at once (including one in his mouth!), Nami, the sneaky thief, Ussop, the sharpshooter and brave liar (who ironically has a nose as large as Pinnochio's), and, my personal favorite, Sanji, a master chef and womanizer, with an amazing kicking ability, making for some confusing attacks. The rest of the characters consist of other pirates after the same treasure as the main characters, with just as much determination.

The graphics here are a mixed bag. Characters have a very silly chibi look to them that will seem awkward at first. Once you actually start to play the game, I think you'll understand the look they were given a little better than when you started. Fans will be able to appreciate all of the details that went into the environments and characters in the background. While I wish they had more detail in the actual scenery, it's forgivable considering that the environments in the series look almost completely identical to the ones in this game.

The gameplay is the nitty gritty here. If you are familiar with the game Powerstone, then you should know what type of fighter to expect. You are given a handful of stages (eventually becoming 7 after unlocking them all), over 16 characters from the series, and over 20 regular moves for each character. You move around in a relatively small battleground with a lot of activity occurring as you fight. Luckily, every character has their own uniqueness to them, so the game never gets too repetitive (ex: Buggy the Clown can decompose himself to attack or make quick escapes from other attacks). Each character also has a unique special attack to fit their personality from the show. This builds up as characters fight and collect fruit from the object boxes scattered in each stage. (More about those in a minute.) These attacks cause all the action to stop for a brief moment before the character unleashes hell on earth to their opponent. Some attacks can be quite fun to look at as well. To add to the insanity, there are object like boxes and barrels that appear in each stage that can contain items that fill your special meter up, something that hurts you, or something that you can use to attack your enemy with. Tired of the story mode? No problem as there are over 6 different modes of play including Grand Battle (1 on 1 battles) and Mini Games (ranging from a soccer-type game to fighting opponents under strange conditions like status handicaps and such).

I'd say the sound is about average. You get all of the English voice actors to do all of the script (which in my opinion isn't necessarily a good thing). The background music is about average at best; it doesn't hurt the mood, but it doesn't provoke it either. Another thing some fans might want to know is that they kept the English rap intro in the beginning of the game as well. (If you're like me then you might want to just skip it. :\)

There are some very nice unlockables for meeting certain criteria that include character art, miscellaneous art, character profiles, short movie clips, and many other things among those. Definitely a plus.

Overall, I felt the game was enjoyable, but slightly flawed (mostly due to the 4Kids voice actors and some slightly choppy controls at certain moments). If you are a One Piece fan, then I suggest renting it first to see if it's really your type of game. I have a feeling there are going to be many different opinions about this one, so you should form your own before you go plunking down the bucks.


- Justin Dickstein (JDOmnislash)