Ya yo ya yo! You probably read the title, but in case you didn't, this is a review of the recently released One Piece: Romance Dawn for the Nintendo 3DS. Yeah, I know it's been out in Japan for over a year on the PSP, but it was just released in North America on the 3DS ten days before I wrote this. So obviously, the game is new to me.
It should be noted (do people ever actually note things like that?) that I'm not going to go over the PSP game for the obvious reason that I can't play it. It's Japan-only. The game is probably exactly the same anyways, so if you want my review of that, just replace "Nintendo" with "Sony" and "3DS" with "PSP".
Also, I'm only part way through the game. I just beat Syrup Village, but I'm fairly certain I've reached the gist of how the whole game is going to play. That's not to say my final opinion on the game is completely justified, though. Maybe the game will get better or worse, but for how it looks so far, I think all that's left for future levels is getting stronger. Alright, to the review.
NUMBER 1: THE COVER
Well, let's start this sucker off with the cover. I bought this game about a day or two after it was released, so I was lucky enough to get it in a holographic cover. It looks pretty cool. I really like the way Luffy is holding the Straw Hat. It reminds me of how Shanks held it when he entered Marineford during the war. It's also nice that it has the picture of Shanks giving Luffy the hat.
NUMBER 2: THE OPENING SCENE
When you turn on the game, you're greeted with a nice opening montage, summarizing the story of the game briefly. The animation is beautiful; it's a lot nicer to look at than Toei's weekly serials. Then again, they probably had more time on this game since their deadline isn't nearly as hard, but I digress. My only real problem with this is that it sort of spoils who's all going to join the Straw Hats. It's not too bad for me since I've seen the whole story, but for newcomers, that's probably not something you want to see in the introduction. On the other hand, you'd probably be better off reading the manga or watching the anime than playing this game anyways. But if you want to discover everything for yourself in the game, then go ahead and learn the story. I won't spoil anything. Not even Ace's death.
NUMBER 3: THE CUTSCENES
Hey, you remember that awesome opening scene before the title screen? Well, prepare to be disappointed. That animation is rarely going to be used again. The majority of the story is told through small dialogue bubbles with the characters' faces all in a little box. There's always a still background with where they're at, but other than that, there's almost no animation. Occasionally there are animated cutscenes, but they're mostly for key moments for the main characters. And they look pretty good, but sometimes the scenes themselves just look like a waste of potential. The scene where Luffy punches the sea monster was pretty cool, but the scene where Usopp disbands his pirate crew...honestly, was anybody asking for that to be reanimated?
Except for a select few plot-points, almost all of the cutscenes are those crappy unanimated ones. I always hate it when games have scenes like that, especially when they FIGHT! Honestly, of all things to animate, animate the action scenes. But I guess some people enjoy it. Ever wanted to see the epic brawl of the Higuma square pushing slightly against the Shanks square? Then this is the game for you. Honestly, these cutscenes are so unbearably unengaging that I just skipped them. I'm glad you can do that in games now, unlike SOME actually underrated GAMES.
NUMBER 4: THE GRAPHICS
There isn't quite that much to say about the graphics. They look sort of decent, although Luffy always has the same smiling expression when you play as him. All the enemies look generic. They're all exactly the same, except for the main bosses of the areas. They do have different weapons, but we'll go over that later. The areas themselves aren't very interesting to look at, either. The caves all have one wall, the Marine bases all have one wall, every area looks pretty much the same. If it wasn't for the maps on the bottom screen, I'd probably be totally lost. Although there's one thing I have to give it credit for: It's the first 3DS game I've ever seen that has NO 3D.
NUMBER 5: THE GAMEPLAY
This is where the game goes from underwhelming cutscenes to supreme mediocrity. In the overworld, you can open chests and store the items in your pouch. However, you can only fit 10 of each item in your pouch, and 30 items total in the pouch. However, that only counts for individual items. So you can have 10 apples, 10 riceballs, 10 tension drinks, and 10 antidote herbs and it will count as 4 items in your pouch. You can also store them in your treasure chest which can take up to 900 items.
The gameplay is an RPG, which isn't a bad thing. Basically, you encounter a group of enemies on the field. They're not random encounters like Final Fantasy or Pokemon; they're encounters you can see in the overworld and approach/avoid, like Paper Mario or Earthbound. In most RPG's, you have one command that says "Fight" and you just use your basic attack. In this game, when you choose to attack, you have a number of different moves you can do, and each are assigned to the four face buttons. You can have three pages for these attacks, meaning each character can have up to 12 different attacks. Some attacks are more powerful than others, which cost Tension Points. Your basic attacks cost no points. But that's basic RPG stuff.
Either way, that's pretty much it. You're running around, fighting enemies. It's a monotonous button-masher. The only enemies that you probably won't kill in less than four moves are the main bosses. There is so little variety to the gameplay. There also isn't really that much of the game to be played. The first level is all cutscenes. No gameplay at all. The required levels are short, easy, and almost the exact same. It's not fun, it's tedious, and getting to the beautiful cutscenes through all the other ocean of mediocrity just isn't worth it.
There's really not much else to say. Just don't bother with this game.