By Alex Arbizo . September 4, 2006 . 1:01pm
Avast matey! What say ye to sailin round the horn, pillaging and plunderin’ in search of treasure? Arrr… seasick ya say? Aye, that won’t do, how ‘bout a game instead? Join Luffy and his crew in Namco Bandai’s latest pirate excursion, One Piece: Grand Adventure. All the action of being a pirate with none of the scurvy. One Piece is the story of Monkey D. Luffy, captain of the Straw Hat Pirates, and his dream of becoming King of the Pirates. It is never really made clear what this means though it suggests pirates follow a sort of monarchial system of governance, which as everyone knows, is preposterous. He plans to become king by finding the treasure of Gold Roger, a notorious pirate who, before he died, declared he left all the treasure he collected in One Piece. So with his navigator, Nami and his sundry crew, Luffy embarks on his mission, meeting a myriad of characters on the way.
One Piece: Grand Adventure is a fighting game at its core, with a style similar to other anime-derived fighting games, 3D real time chaos in a small arena. Though centered around fighting, NAMCO BANDAI still included a number of extras. In addition to the Versus, Tournament and Training modes, there are mini games such as Spotbilled Duck racing. There are a total of 24 playable characters and over 50 support characters. Support characters can be called during battle to fight but are not player controlled.
Grand Adventure mode is the primary 1P mode, where players go to unlock characters, stages and cool extras. In this mode you start with Luffy (more starting characters become available later), and recruit other members of the Straw Hat Crew as you fight your way to treasure. By defeating opponents, Luffy and the other pirates get experience and level up, unlocking new special attacks along the way. When enough experience is gained to level up, you are given a stat point to distribute how chose. These points increase health, attack power, special attack, etc.
After a few levels, skill gauge attacks become available. This is where Grand Adventure moves away from the typical “hack n’ slash” and strategy plays a larger role. The skill gauge allows you to use Accel-Heat, Special and Secret attacks, as well as call support characters into battle to fight for you. At first, each character only has one skill gauge bar, but gains additional bars as they level up for a maximum of 3 (in multiplayer, 3 skill gauge bars are available by default for every unlocked character). Each battle begins with full skill gauge bars, and can be replenished by picking up coins from treasure chests. Use special attacks to inflict high damage on your opponents, and secret attacks for massive damage. Secret attacks require full skill gauge bars and involve a rock/paper/scissors style button selection, giving your opponent an opportunity to reduce or negate the damage.
Items can quickly turn the table in Grand Adventure. Barrels and treasure chests appear often during battle and can be hurled at your opponent to retrieve the swag inside. Items range from temporary attack or defense boosters to a hive of angry bees used to disorient your opponent. Great attention to detail was also paid to the arena designs, which are interactive to a limited degree.
With all the content in Grand Adventure mode and the most expansive character list yet, One Piece: Grand Adventure surpasses all other installments of the One Piece franchise.
Version Covered: North American
Release Date: 08.29.06
+ Pros: Actual fighting offers excellent control and depth, diversity among the characters (different moves, specials, etc), really shines in the multiplayer mode, true to the show, though has a lot to offer to non-fans, well presented, stylistically and it has pirates
- Cons: The tutorials that come up during Grand Adventure are vague and do not offer much real information. Go to the manual or online guides to really take advantage of all the tools available in combat. No Ninjas
Overall: One Piece: Grand Adventure is solid in both the single and multiplayer aspects, so do not bring your copy on a boat or a pirate may seize it as booty.
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