Guest Author - James Shea
“One Piece: Grand Battle” for the Nintendo Gamecube is a fighting game based on the anime and manga series, “One Piece”. The show was recently brought to America by the company 4Kids Entertainment. The series follows pirate Monkey D. Luffy and his crew sailing the world in search of One Piece, the legendary treasure of the King of the Pirates.
What makes Luffy so unique is his stretching ability; as a child, he ate a “cursed fruit” from foreign lands that gave him the ability to stretch his body to incredible lengths, but lose his ability to swim or float. His crew includes Nami, the thief/navigator, Roronoa Zolo, the swordsman who uses a three-sword style (two in his hands, one in his mouth), Usopp, the marksman and inventor, and Sanji, the lady-chasing cook. His enemies include Captain Buggy, a clown with the cursed fruit power of separating and controlling parts of his body, Captain Kuro of the Thousand Plans, Don Krieg, with his massive arsenal, the Merman Arlong, and the Navy captain Chaser, with the power of smoke control. Each one of these characters is selectable in this game.
In addition, each character gets characters related to them as “support characters”. These characters can be called in for special attacks during the course of a battle. These characters are usually subordinates to the main character (like the captains and their crewmen) or friends who just happen to be less powerful or important (such as Zolo’s bounty-hunting buddies, Yosaku and Johnny).
Rather than traditional 2-D fighting games or 3-D fighting games that are essentially 2-D fighting games with sidestepping, One Piece: Grand Battle is a fully 3-D game. The combatants can run in any direction without any real restrictions. Each battlefield has different circumstances; in one, lightning strikes part of the field, and in another, bombs are shot onto the map by a ship. There are also power-ups to collect; food (to use special attacks), attack or defense increases, and things like torches, bees’ nests, and oil cans. Water is also an ever-present danger; falling in it damages characters.
Each character has some basic fighting moves, some ranged fighting moves, special moves, and one super move. The basic fighting moves are just that; punches, kicks, or other simple melee attacks, depending on the character’s weapon. Ranged fighting moves vary more; they can include energy waves, a rush attack, or other attack. Both melee and ranged attacks have horizontal and vertical versions, to take advantage of the full 3D system. Special moves are destructive, but take a full energy bar (one out of a max of two) to use. Super moves are by far the most cinematic attacks. When initiated, the screen changes to a background of anime-style speed lines. Depending on the difference between the healths of the two characters (less health means more power), there are three possible stages to the attack. The first is usually a short, simple attack. Next are a medium-power attack, and finally a huge, super-powerful attack.
Every character has a different move set; the inventor Usopp has more attacks based on his slingshot and special ammo than basic melee attacks, while Luffy has many powerful melee techniques that happen to have long range. Ranged, special, and super attacks are all based on attacks seen in the show, such as Zolo’s ultimate attack “Three Thousand Worlds” or Captain Kuro’s “Out of the Bag”.
The graphics in this game are very good. The style is slightly less realistic than most One Piece fans may have come to expect; characters are more “compressed” and cartoonish in proportions than in the TV show and manga. Effects for all attacks are cinematic and impressive. The sound, however, may be the games’ only failing. The 4Kids team used the same voice actors that were in the TV show for the game. 4Kids has been widely criticized for poor voice actors that sound too outlandish or juvenile, though for the most part they did okay with One Piece. The biggest problem is that two unlockable characters, who are supposed to be the most powerful characters in the series, have completely ridiculous accents; one has a Cockney accent, while the other has an over-the-top French accent. Characters that are supposed to inspire respect should not sound like Old Tom, the friendly chimney sweep.
There are also three game modes; “Grand Battle” a standard duel, “Story Mode”, in which a series of plot-based battles are fought, and “Minigames mode”, which has Minigames ranging from breaking Don Krieg’s steel armor to breaking 300 boxes in under a minute. The story mode has its ups and downs, as some of the reasons for fighting given by the characters are kind of weak. For example, when Luffy fights Sanji, the reasoning behind it is that Luffy made fun of Sanji.
Overall, this game is pretty good. The gameplay is fun, fast, and frantic, and any fan of the series will be delighted by the range of characters, support characters, and unlockable items like art from the show. However, fans of the manga may be turned off by the dubbed character voices. I give it a 7 out of 10.
Buy One Piece : Grand Battle from Amazon.com