I’m pretty keen on fighters, as you may well know by reading my repertoire of reviews. I enjoy 3D fighters primarily; games like Soul Calibur and Tekken. I have delved into the fast-paced realm of 2D fighters, including BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, Street Fighter, and the like, so I know the thrill of corner combos and aerial juggling. One Piece Grand Adventure, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to fit either of these categories. It is indeed a fighter, as you have standard attacks, combos, grabs, and abilities, but in the end it feels like you’re playing a top-down quasi-open world beatdown game. Coupled with its impressive roster of characters, Grand Adventure’s unique playstyle will certainly grab your attention. And then it’ll grab your character and beat the shit out of them.
First of all, One Piece Grand Adventure is a GameCube game based off the manga/anime series One Piece, which revolves around a crew of ludicrously hilarious and spontaneously serious pirates. I won’t get further in than that, but I just thought you should know what you’re getting into if you wind up interested in this game.
So, to start you off, I’ll cover the basics. Controls, I mean. A button for standard attacks, X for rising attacks, Y to jump, and B to grab. Holding R and pressing A, X, or B performs the character’s ranged/unique abilities. Also, moving while holding R will instantly close the gap between you and your opponent to keep the pressure on. Holding L button disables attacks but allows input for specials. All specials are two button inputs that start with either A or B, and end in A, B, or X. Secret moves start with X, X, and end in whatever else. Secret moves invoke a rock-paper scissors game, in which winning increases damage, and losing cancels the move ultimately.
Arenas are gimmicky, so expect lots of stuff to be lying around, including chests, traps, and hostile NPCs. Chests contain coins, which can be collected to fill the treasure gauge. You need that for specials and secrets; money is power. Speaking of power, there are three stat-oriented powerups that play a large part in most matches. The Sword doubles your attack power but disables blocking. The Shield makes you immune to almost all flinch and knockback, while slowing you considerably. The Boots make you run at obscene speeds. Finally, the Meat, which heals you, and is damned tasty.
There are other items as well, like oil drums, fire buckets, laser shell swords, giant baseball bats, stacks of heavy gold bars, bombs, bee’s nests, giant poison mushrooms… LOTS of stuff, all of which can be used to murder your opponents.
Anyway. Grand Adventure is the campaign of this game, obviously. You sail around, beating the crap out of people, and completing various minigames for some reason that isn’t exactly clear. Most matches have conditions attached, like “beat this guy in 30 seconds.” The campaign’s likely related to the plot of the manga, and I’m not an adamant reader, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for a synopsis.
Playability; is it fun? Yes, it’s enjoyable so long as you don’t think of it in terms of tournament fighters. One Piece Grand Adventure comes from an era of splitscreen non-competitive gaming that’s all about the spontaneous joy of dousing your enemy in oil then watching them erupt into a blazing inferno as you sprinkle fire on them. The less seriously you take it, the more fun you’ll have.
I’m not saying crap about the graphics aside from that I think it looks great for its time. It’s GameCube era, but it’s no Splatterhouse. Besides, you’re supposed to play this to screw around, not to criticize the bits and baubles.
Sad thing is, Richard Li of 1up’s got some beef with this one. Specifically with spontaneous framerate drops and the camera going goofy and hiding the entire screen behind certain aspects of the environment for longer than a second or two. These factors are indeed present and obnoxious, but hardly a deal-breaker. That’s all up to you, the reader, though. Take a look and see what you think: http://www.1up.com/reviews/one-piece-ga