The One Piece crew has been setting sail in video games for a while now, with their recent Pirate Warriors outings being the best to date, mainly because of their Dynasty Warriors-esque antics. After all, where else can you take the hyper-elastic Monkey D. Luffy and beat up hundreds of thugs at once? That said, I was interested in seeing how the team would fare on the Nintendo 3DS with the role-playing advance Romance Dawn. After playing for several hours, though, I found the only one who was getting seriously beat up was me.
Romance Dawn’s concept is similar to the series, as it follows Luffy in his pre-pirating days, setting out to make himself the fiercest in the world. Obviously, it’s not an overnight quest, and along the way, he’ll make a few friends and enemies. In the right development hands, this concept really could’ve gone places.
That is, in the right development hands. The problem is Three Rings misses the mark completely with Romance Dawn, with pratfalls in several areas that send the game skidding to a halt before the fun even begins.
Let’s start with the graphics. The in-game anime sequences are fun to watch, if a bit grainy compared to, say, a high-definition television. That’s acceptable. But what isn’t are the fuzzy, unpolished in-game graphics. Between lackluster animations, obstructions with camera views, a poorly placed item wheel (why couldn’t it go on the second screen?!) and lackluster environments, it just never really comes alive as a One Piece adventure. It looks more like a traditional RPG – several years ago. That’s PlayStation era, folks.
What’s worse, the sound lacks any sort of variety. The music wears out its welcome and there’s barely any voice acting at all to keep players interested. Considering this is a One Piece game, you’d think more would’ve been included for fans to identify with their favorites. Nope, not happening.
Presentation is the least of this game’s worries, though. The fact that the story goes nowhere fast is downright criminal. About half an hour in, you’ll be wondering when things are going to really pick up for Monkey and company. By about the fourth hour in, you’re still wondering, with lackluster writing and hardly any twists worth sticking around for. When you have a role-playing game that’s lacking any conviction to continue onward, you know there’s a problem.
Worse yet, the gameplay offers no real variety. The role-playing attack system is decent, but very, very repetitive, with Monkey’s tap-tap attacks coming into play too often and very little for the other characters to do. And even if you do manage to build up your assault skills, it’s all for naught, as the enemies in the game are dumber than bricks. Seriously, the best they can do is strike back with some half-hearted technique that Monkey could run through in his sleep. Even the bosses don’t put up much of a fight.
There are side dungeons to explore, but they have very little variety to offer, and only the most devoted players will be willing to hunt for any treasures hiding within them. But, considering that The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is available for about the same price, it’s hard to figure out who would put themselves through such torment. Even devotees of the One Piece brand may question what they’re doing.
One Piece: Romance Dawn just fails on many levels, and qualifies as one of theworst anime-based games of this generation. The concept is sound and the cinemas are decent, but everything else falls apart at the seams. Make this one walk the plank and stick with Zelda instead.
- Interesting set-up at first
- Cinemas are fun for fans to watch
- Lackluster gameplay and AI that's practically asleep
- Visuals and audio have a "phoned in" quality
- The story doesn't validate the One Piece franchise at all