While playing an early build of the versus mode in One Piece: Burning Blood, my first thought was a feeling of deja vu, which wasn’t too much of a surprise seeing that One Piece: Burning Blood is coming from the same team as J-Stars Victory VS+, another team based fighter. What they share is the ease of playing, they’ve made it easy to pull off those cool looking special moves without any complicated combos. Aside from this, the two are very different games.
Where J-Stars has these huge locations you can jump and fly around in, Burning Blood has much smaller, arena style locations and is very much focused on the fighting with no gimmicks within the stages. Only one fighter can be play at a time and you use the rear shoulder buttons to switch out characters, each one having their own life gauge. Whilst I couldn’t figure out the exact specifications to pull it off, when switching characters in battle sometimes you’ll activate a Unity Assist where the character will switch into battle with an attack.
While I didn’t play as every character available, I tried out a good selection of them. You start by selecting your team of three followed by your three supports. While the idea of the game is to switch out characters who might be weak against others I tried playing most of a full match with each character I tried as. My first choice was to play as Chopper, my personal favourite, though he turned out to be a bit disappointing. While I really liked the way with every special move, Chopper transformed into a different form though in battle he felt lacking. While he is one of the weaker members of the Straw Hat Pirates (he is only a doctor after all!), he just didn’t seem to be able to do the damage or have the reach nearly every other character had.
Whilst playing as Luffy, I was able to transform into his Gear Four form easily and he immediately played very differently. Luffy in this form is essentially a giant rubber bouncing ball and his movements reflected that. He’s not as mobile when hopping around but his attacks have a good reach. Marco was a popular character to play as due to his wings dealing out a lot of damage quickly while covering a great area.
One thing that has been highlighted throughout my time with the game was the about the amount of effort put into recreating the unique look and feel of One Piece, and I certainly can’t fault them on that. I thought the latest One Piece: Pirates Warriors game was the best adaption of the series so far but One Piece: Burning Blood looks to be taking that crown. It’s bright, colourful and the characters seem to be a nice blend of the anime designs with some of the extra details on them you see in the original manga.
One Piece: Burning Blood wants to be taken seriously as a fighter and while it doesn’t seem to have the depth of games like Street Fighter, it certainly feels like it’s going to be a fun addition to the series of One Piece games.