Review by Optimus Magnus
"One Piece: Pirate Warriors Is King...Of The One Piece Games."
One Piece: Pirate Warriors is based off the EXTREMELY popular One Piece manga/anime written by Eiichiro Oda. As the name implies, it's done in the tried and true style of Warriors games from developer Tecmo KOEI. And that works pretty damn well. It's almost as if One Piece was made to be turned into a Warriors game. Or maybe the Dynasty Warriors games were changed from a classic fighter into what we have now because of One Piece? Either way, Tecmo KOEI has yet again successfully merged their Warriors style of games with a successful manga/anime franchise.
Introduction or Let's Combine Two Awesome Things To Make Them Even More Awesome
So, a lot of people know One Piece is this INSANELY EXTREMELY popular franchise. A lot of those people know why, because they read or watch it. And a lot have no clue why because they don't read or watch it. Which makes sense because as of this writing, there are exactly 683 manga chapters and 567 anime episodes. As well as 12 movies, 32 video games and thousands of pieces of merchandise. One Piece has countless awards and holds the record for highest selling manga in Japan, with over 230 MILLION total copies sold. So the question from many people is Why? Why is it THAT popular?. Well, Tecmo KOEI and Namco Bandai have a nice way to show why it's that popular with Pirate Warriors.
Game-play or *Gomu Gomu no Hack n' Slash*
Let's not kid ourselves here. One Piece: Pirate Warriors IS a Warriors game so it fits into the Warriors style of game-play. Which is basically just mashing buttons until you can do a super attack. But because it's One Piece, the attacks are far more interesting and varied than swinging a spear or sword in random directions. And even though the basic Warriors game-play is there, enough changes have been added to make it different from your typical Warriors game.
Square and Triangle are still your basic attack buttons, with Square being Standard Attack and Triangle being Area Attack. Circle is your Special Attack, standard for Warriors games. The X button however, doesn't make you jump. It makes you dash which is something new. In fact, there's no jumping in the game, unless it comes in the form of an attack after launching enemies into the air. The game also takes a page out of Dynasty Warriors 7's playbook. Your Special Attack gauge can now stack up to two times for most characters, more for Luffy. Each character gets at least 2 Special Attacks and when the gauge is completely full, you can choose which one you do based on how long you hold down Circle. Want to do Luffy's Level 3 Special? Hold down Circle until the gauge fills up to Level 3. Just want to do his Level 1? Simply push Circle and you'll do it.
The biggest change from the standard Warriors format is the R1 and R2 buttons. They now do Unique Actions for each playable character. For a character like Luffy, the R1 button would do Gum Gum Balloon, where he fills himself with air and becomes extra bouncy and can reflect cannon shots. He has other moves that you can select with a push of the D-Pad Left or Right as well.
Another, nice, addition is the Crew Strikes. That's basically partnering up with a playable character during a stage and being able to call them in for an attack. Each character has a specific combo that you need to do to call them in, and they are only in long enough to do one combo of their own, but use them enough times and they will be able to do a Special Attack of their own. It's pretty nice because you can essentially give yourself an extra Special Attack that you can save for emergency use.
There are also changes to the main story mode, called Main Log. In it, you play as Luffy, obviously, but because it's One Piece, and Luffy can stretch his body like rubber, Tecmo KOEI made a lot of the levels around that concept. There are 3 types of stages, Action, Musou, and Boss. Action stages are a mix of Hack n' Slash combat with platforming elements based around Luffy's stretching abilities. These platforming elements are things like stretching your arm across a gap to pull down a bridge, or launching yourself across a large room like a slingshot. This also leads to a bit of puzzle solving on a lot of the stages, which is a nice change of pace, though the camera speed can sometimes cause a bit of frustration. Musou stages are like what most Warriors fans are used to. They are broken up into grids or Territories and you run around, beat people up, complete some missions, capture some Territories, and then fight the main bad guy. And Boss stages are just that, stages where you fight a boss.
Like I said, it's still a Warriors game and it plays like a Warriors game. All the changes to incorporate the style of One Piece are nice though. And each of the 13 playable characters all play differently and seeing each of their signature styles come out almost flawlessly in a video game is pretty awesome. 9/10
Story or It's Time For An Adventure!
Like I mentioned earlier, the One Piece manga is currently up to chapter 683. That's a huge story. And unfortunately a lot of it is left out of the Pirate Warriors game. But at the same time, enough of the major moments are present.
You follow the adventure of Monkey D. Luffy, a young man with aspirations to become King of the Pirates. Through the Main Log story mode, you'll get to see Luffy travel the first half of the world and meet his crew members and fight against other pirates and the World Government. Each major story arc of the first half of the story, with a few exceptions, is present and while you get what's essentially a bare-bones retelling of those events, it's enough to understand One Piece as a whole.
One Piece is a huge story. It has emotionally moving moments that can only be appreciated when you get the full picture. There are countless instances of foreshadowing, dozens of references to past and future events, and piles upon piles of relevant information told through flashbacks and minor dialogue. And even though Pirate Warriors gives you what can be called the must know moments, leaving out all of that does more harm than good. 7/10
Graphics/Sound/Music or A Pirate Ship Needs A Musician
The graphics, while not super amazing, convey Oda's art style very well. The character designs, their facial expressions and attacks all translate very well through the cel-shaded graphics. The stages look great too, even if a majority of them are full of things that aren't actually a part of One Piece for the sake of game-play.
The sound is exactly the same from the anime. Which isn't bad at all because that's where the sounds of One Piece originated from. The voice acting is all in Japanese which is great or terrible, depending on how you want to look at it and your personal preferences. It's great if you watch the Japanese version of the anime with subtitles and that's what you are used to, because the Japanese voice actors are all present. It's terrible if you prefer English audio, which many people do. And even though the Japanese voices are great, since it's in Japanese, what gets said during stages can easily be missed if you don't take a second to read what pops up on the screen.
The music isn't One Piece music from the anime but at the same time it sounds like it would belong, only with a bit of Warriors style to it. The typical rock stuff like guitar riffs and drums. Not bad, not great.
The cel-shaded graphics, the original voice actors and familiar yet new music make for a nice combination. 8/10
Play-Time/Replayability or There's Always Another Adventure Waiting For You
Even though the story of One Piece is huge, the content of Pirate Warriors isn't. There's the Main Log, and then there's a mode called Another Log, which is where you can play as all the other characters. Each character gets their own story mode too. But some of the characters appear towards the end of the Main Log so their story modes are pretty short. Three characters actually only get one stage in their story mode. But you can play as any character on any stage you've unlocked so even though some don't get that may stages to themselves, you have a lot of options in the end. There's also a co-op mode and Challenges to play.
The Main Log will take about 10 hours, give or take, to complete. The Another Log mode will be slightly longer since you have 12 new characters to play as.
With 13 total characters to play as, a main story mode, a free story mode, online co-op and Challenges, there's plenty to do, even if a lot of it is the same. 8/10
Final Recommendation or A Grand Adventure That Feels A Bit Too Short
Pirate Warriors does many things right, and it does enough wrong. If you're a fan of the franchise and want a great One Piece game, look no further. If you've always wondered what all the fuss was about, Pirate Warriors isn't a terrible way to start learning. It is, however, an abridged version of the story and that does more harm than good. To fans, it leaves us wanting more. To newcomers, it leaves them with far too many questions. Knowing Tecmo KOEI like I do, there will be more Pirate Warriors games and those will expand on the story while adding more to the game-play. It's how they operate. You can see it with their Gundam and Fist of The North Star games. Now, that's not a bad thing. The problem lies with One Piece itself. There's SO MUCH content already that unless Tecmo KOEI turns this into a yearly thing, each new game will fall short in one way or the other.
So, if you are a fan of One Piece, this game will be great even though there will be moments where you get upset or mad about what is and isn't in the game. If you aren't a fan, the game won't be terrible to you but it also may not be good enough. Too much of the smaller details that makes One Piece what it is today aren't present and like I said, that does more harm than good. If you're a fan of Warriors games, this is actually a great change of pace from the Dynasty/Samurai games.
Final Score 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/02/12
Game Release: One Piece: Pirate Warriors (US, 09/25/12)
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