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One Piece: Grand Battle

October 04, 2005

One Piece originally appeared in manga form as a part of Shonen Jump magazine in 1997 and quickly gained popularity in Japan. Soon after this increase, it was made into a series of anime episodes which eventually were dubbed in English and made their debut on Fox’s Saturday morning lineup in September of 2004. As with any popular anime geared towards a younger crowd, Bandai partnered with Ganbarion to bring this series to a more interactive medium with One Piece: Grand Battle.

For those unfamiliar with the One Piece anime or manga, the series details the adventures of a boy named Monkey D. Luffy on his quest to become king of the pirates. Long ago, before he was hung from the gallows the previous pirate king, Gold Roger, announced that he left everything he owned in one piece, and it was free for the taking for whoever found it first. Luffy had always dreamt of becoming a pirate, and after eating the cursed Gum Gum fruit (effectively turning his body into rubber) he and his crew set sail on this amazing adventure.

Simply put, One Piece: Grand Battle can be best described as a cross between Namco’s Soul Calibur and Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers. Like SSB, the battles can be very hectic with various weapons and power ups dropping at random intervals, yet the fighting and use of a 3D area allows you to take advantage of the battle field and avoid enemy attacks, much like in SC. For anyone that was fortunate enough to play either of the two Power Stone games released on the Dreamcast, players should have no problems picking up One Piece’s play mechanics as the two titles are quite similar.

One Piece has many different game types that players may take advantage of. At the forefront is the game’s story mode, which allows players to choose one of the available characters and play through a series of five battles, each with its own unique pre and post game dialogue which varies between characters. Actually, this interaction between the characters is a feature I found very entertaining. Depending on which two characters are fighting and their relationship to each other, the in-match dialogue and picture displayed in the character window may change. For example, usually Sanji is cool and collective, however when pitted against Nami his demeanor changes, causing his eyes to become giant hearts and also yelling such phrases as, "I can’t stop myself," or, "I can’t control my legs," when he attacks instead of his usual calling out of the move names.

By completing the story mode multiple times with each of the available characters, you’ll begin unlocking additional ones to play in the story mode and brand new characters to play in both story and non-story battle modes. In total, One Piece has 16 playable characters, and although 10 are available for non-story combat when starting a new game, only Luffy and his four crewmates are available in story mode. This means that players will have plenty of unlocking to do. My only complaint with One Piece’s story mode was that it only consisted of five levels and would sometimes prove to be a little too short depending on your chosen character.

In addition to the story mode, you may also choose Grand Battle (basically a single fight against a friend or a computer opponent), or Grand Tournament mode which allows players to setup a tournament comprised of 4 to 16 computer or human opponents. Players may also choose to enter the game’s training mode in order to get more familiar with a character’s move set, or refine their overall game. As opposed to other fighting titles’ training mode, One Piece’s actually has an end goal, that being to successfully land each of the character’s moves on the practice opponent. Accomplishing this task for a character will unlock various extras.

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Developer: Gambion
Publisher: Bandai
Genre: Fighting
Players: 1-2
Online: No
Release: September 2005

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