Game Review

One Piece Romance Dawn Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Robert Hughes

Just give it up, Luffy

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking crafting a decent RPG from the lore of established anime juggernaut One Piece would be a simple task; the bombastic characters, epic quests and thrilling battles the series is known for should, in theory, make for an excellent adventure. With One Piece Romance Dawn, what developer Three Rings has actually produced is a tedious, lazy, borderline insulting abomination that stretches player patience in a manner that would have even the elastic Luffy impressed.

The plot of the game follows the earlier portions of Monkey D. Luffy’s impressively expansive adventures, commencing with his humble beginnings as a pirate-wannabe and chronicling his journey to recruit more members into his seafaring squad. The presentation of this narrative, however, is laughably lazy, draining any pretence of drama or suspense from proceedings. Static images of characters spout ceaseless, terribly written dialogue, the shaking of their avatars to distinguish which person is speaking the only animation used in these bland exchanges. Text is placed haphazardly into word balloons and many characters are represented by a single image, making any kind of emotive expression impossible.

These tiresome segments drag on endlessly and yet do a horrible job of any real exposition; important plot points are relegated to a single line or two whereas extraneous dialogue continues relentlessly. They are interspersed with screen captures taken directly from the anime, but even these frequently miss the mark – more often than not these are blurry, marred by poor compression and directly taken from lower quality interstitial frames. Established fans of the series will wonder how Three Rings has made an interesting tale so dull, whereas newcomers will question why anybody would be interested in the One Piece franchise to begin with.

Once gameplay begins in earnest, things begin to look up, albeit momentarily. Character models are fairly detailed and well-animated, the environments bright and colourful and Luffy and co. move at a decent clip. However, cracks in this façade begin to appear almost immediately – cursory exploration confirms that areas are sparse and empty, a constantly repeating sequence of dull corridors lazily populated with the odd crate or barrel.

Certain textures are of a notably low resolution, Luffy’s face in particular being an indistinguishable mess of pixels from anywhere but an extreme close-up. The 3D effect is non-existent; not a statement of hyperbole to imply it is ineffective, but that Three Rings literally did not include any kind of 3D functionality. It should come as no surprise to learn that Romance Dawn is a port of a PSP game, and no attempt has been made to mask the shortcomings present as a result of this lazy repackaging beyond haphazardly slapping a map on the lower screen.

Combat is turn-based wherein player characters can move freely in an enclosed space, but are penalised for straying too far from their starting point with longer wait times for their next turn. Luffy and crew can (eventually) access a fairly varied array of attacks and combos, each of which costs a certain amount of TP to use and have certain effects such as knocking assailants into walls to inflict additional damage. On paper this sounds like it may provide a tactical, dynamic experience, but sadly these mechanics quickly devolve into mashing the A button to use the standard combo, occasionally using a special move when TP accumulates. Enemies mostly pose no challenge whatsoever, lazily countering with weak sword strikes or ineffective gunshots, too underpowered to provide any real opposition. Infrequently one of the heroes will be required to use one of the plentiful healing items provided, but that’s about the extent of any strategic thinking required from the player.

Beyond following the excruciatingly relayed main narrative, players can traverse randomly generated dungeons to level up their crew and search for (inconsequential) loot. Enduring the journey through one of these labyrinths is rarely worth the effort, each one an exercise in tedium and frustration culminating in a monotonous boss battle. If there’s any fun to be had in these mazes, it must be extremely well hidden. Components can be found in these warrens of mediocrity for the game’s extraneous item-crafting system, but this proves wholly unnecessary when the vast amount of goods that can be created are rivalled by equipment the player can find lying on the ground shortly thereafter.

Conclusion

Frankly, it’s difficult to ascertain who would glean any semblance of enjoyment from One Piece Romance Dawn. Any ardent fan of the Straw Hat Pirates’ escapades will only find themselves angered by how little effort has gone into this tawdry misadventure, whereas this paragon of poor design will do nothing to bring new fans into the flock. Namco Bandai has published a number of surprisingly solid titles tied to their Shōnen Jump properties in recent years, but they've indisputably missed the boat on making One Piece Romance Dawn anywhere close to worth playing.

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User Comments (42)

Pit-Stain

#1

Pit-Stain said:

Ouch! Well that was unexpected, but I'm sure that only hardcore One Piece fans will get this.

SDDMN

#2

SDDMN said:

Sigh Guess I can kiss my chances of playing Unlimited World Red goodbye. Namco will most likely see the reviews and sales for this game as a sign that no one is interested in One Piece over here in the US, thus UWR will remain in Japanese and European territories.

GuSilverFlame

#3

GuSilverFlame said:

sad.... I'm not a hardcore one piece fan enough to even catch up to the anime(I'll start the manga it'll be faster and more enjoyable) so I doubt I'll get this game....

ricklongo

#6

ricklongo said:

I used to read the manga back in the day (like, eight years or so ago). I was never a huge fan, but I liked it enough that I'd be willing to give something like this a chance. Too bad this review (along with the huge number of titles I still want to play both on 3DS and on Wii U) makes that unlikely.

Emblem

#7

Emblem said:

I was wondering why this didn't do to well on the Japanese charts.

Aaronzord

#8

Aaronzord said:

I'm a huge One Piece fan...I've always followed the manga, I spend a fortune on models/figures and I've got a keyring and stuff.

But this game is a load of poo. The endless cutscenes are absolutely unbearable and the game just isn't any fun to play. So, so disappointed. =/

antipop621

#9

antipop621 said:

On the topic of anime games, I do hope the Attack on Titan 3DS game will make it west one day. I know the Manga is killing it on this side of the world.

BakaKnight

#10

BakaKnight said:

"Anyone would be forgiven for thinking crafting a decent RPG from the lore of established anime juggernaut One Piece would be a simple task."

I think it so much that I can't believe the review itself O.O;
I mean... everything pointed out in the review make sense and justify the score, but it sound so ridicoulus that what is described is a One Piece game.

The most dissapointing thing is that sound like noone put heart in making this game, a classical "This thing will sell by itself, no need to make it good" philosophy Bandai had when I was a kid. Sure some studios still think like that, but I was so glad how Bandai quality raise after games like .hack and the fusion with Namco. Let's hope this game is just a single mistake and not a official return to the old office policy -.-;

Einherjar

#11

Einherjar said:

Ouch...i did expect something completely different...As many of you said, an RPG backed up by such a fantastical and creative lore should be a breeze to make. Making anime RPGs based on the main story and not some mashed together "gaiden" thing is often a problem of "what should the player fight ?" Every DBZ game that is not a 1 on 1 fighter had that problem. As massive as that show is, it lacks in generic enemys. But One Piece has even that. I really really sad, this should have been a gift for my girlfriend, since shes a HUGE One Piece fan but also quite a picky gamer...i guess ill show her the review and let her decide if its really worth it...sigh

Hunter-D

#17

Hunter-D said:

I've got the game and have played it, I agree with the review.

At least the Unlimited series has been consistently good and the Pirate Warriors games have been great in my opinion.

Oh well, this is a let down as I thought an RPG would do well with One Piece.

NBG could have done a MUCH better job.

ShadowFox254

#18

ShadowFox254 said:

Namco Bandai should just stop making anime license games. They've ruined Dragon Ball Z after Budokai 3, and have the nerve to make it into a Kinect game. -_-

CanisWolfred

#21

CanisWolfred said:

@Blastoise-san There are times to gloat about being right. This is not one of those times.

I was honestly expecting this to be good...as I've expected every One Piece game to be better than average. And some were, actually, like the ones developed by Omega Force. But I guess I'll stick to those for now...

CanisWolfred

#22

CanisWolfred said:

@ShadowFox254 They actually still make plenty of good Anime games! It's just that they suck at figuring out which ones to bring over outside Japan. Like, they really really suck at it. I can count the number of successes they've had on one hand that's how bad they are at it. If you want good anime games, learn Japanese and start importing.

SheldonRandoms

#24

SheldonRandoms said:

Even if it's still bad, i'm still going to set sail on this adventure, because i'm gonna become king of the pirates..............in the game somehow.

Obito_Tennyson

#25

Obito_Tennyson said:

What we really need from Shonen Jump is a new Naruto Ninja Destiny or Naruto Class of Ninja Revolution game. It's a shame that Tomy lost the license.

Epicnessofme99

#27

Epicnessofme99 said:

That's sad but at least now I know i'll be able to spend the money I was gonna use to buy this game on a different game.

Aluwolf

#28

Aluwolf said:

@GuSilverFlame You are missing out on a lot by not reading the manga. Every chapter cover tells part of a story and has shown what has happened to important characters like Enel and Vivi. The anime actually changes a lot more than you'd think too.

BlueNitrous

#29

BlueNitrous said:

Will there ever be a good One Piece game? For how good the franchise is (both manga and anime) they sure do whiff with the games.

Rocko52

#30

Rocko52 said:

Very disappointing, I was looking forward to this...I wish I could buy this to support bringing One Piece games over, but...no...I won't buy it. :(

CanisWolfred

#31

CanisWolfred said:

@BlueNitrous "The anime actually changes a lot more than you'd think too."

No.

As for the cover stories, they're all summed up on the One Piece wiki, which is much faster to get through that reading every single manga chapter, which is still pointless if you've already seen the anime. Even then, they mostly seem to be gaidens that have only come up once or twice in the actual story so far.

shonenjump86

#32

shonenjump86 said:

One Piece is one of my favorite manga series out there. I've never actually played any of the games, except for the crossover Jump Superstars games. Looks like I won't be this game either.

3dcaleb

#33

3dcaleb said:

i went to gamestop yesterday and got a solid release date from them of 2-11-14 and was so happy to finally know when i could get my hands on it. but i love one peice so much i cant believe they would put out this bad of a game. especially at $39.99. maybe after it doesnt sell and they cut the price in half i will buy it.

tenshi_a

#35

tenshi_a said:

I've been playing this too. Yes they have done the impossible of making the story of One Piece not-epic-and-awesome, and is an insult to One Piece. Yes there are millions of randomly-generated mazes.

Two things though - one, you can press "B" while moving in the mazes to run, this makes those sequences about a hundred times better. It should have been auto-run, honestly. Also, it should have told the player rather than have me look it up in the menu.

Two, the underlying battle mechanic is really good, I love the freedom to run around and aim up my characters, strategising which attack will hit at which step to hit more than one enemy at once, and which way they'll fly off. It's almost like you're playing some kind of crazy turn-based snooker with added splash attacks or something.

If they gave each character a range of moves, and let the user decide to slot in which were available, it could have been one of the best battle mechanics ever. But then it would have been a bit of a shame to be stuck in this shonky game.

SeVok

#38

SeVok said:

Bought it the other day, kind of like it, the story is not that bad, but the gameplay is where it's at.

am21

#39

am21 said:

I actually finished the game, I don't know how I did it.. but I did. The ending wasn't fulfilling (probably because I've watched the entire anime so far..). There's no end game content, the fights are tedious the 'dungeons' are repetitive the enemies are all the same.

It's a shame, they could probably create something great within the One piece universe on the 3DS and yet they fail to deliver :(.

Minemakesyou

#40

Minemakesyou said:

@SDDMN that's pretty harsh, what you're saying there. One peice is immensely popular in the states, so you obviously don't know what you're talking about. I've played the game on my psp (in Japanese, but I speak it), and I wouldn't give it any lower than an eight. If you don't like RPG's, you don't like RPG's, but this is a prime example of a JRPG.

Windy

#41

Windy said:

Thanks for saving me time and money. I was going to get this but had doubt's since it was a game that crept in under the radar. Maybe later if I see the cartridge on sale.

Weird

#42

Weird said:

i finished the game and i have to say the 3 is a little bit too hard... it deserves something like a 5 because the gameplay is really good and a lot of fun
but the game is terrible confusing for people which dont know one piece because the dialogues are so contextless
and people who love one piece will be disappointed because they skipped a lot of important things
but ithink its a good first step into the rpg genre and i hope they will keep on and try a good one piece rpg again ^-^

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