One Piece: Romance Dawn is a fun ride if you’re a fan of the series.
My first review for this site is for a 3DS game titled One Piece: Romance Dawn, a role-playing game set in the world of the widely popular manga/anime series, One Piece. If you haven’t read the story or watched the show, you may want to be careful, as there will be some minor spoilers.
For those unaware of what One Piece is, it follows the story of a boy named Monkey D. Luffy and his crew of pirates as they set off to find the legendary One Piece, treasure of the infamous pirate Gol D. Roger. Each member of the crew has his own goals as well, with Luffy wanting to be the king of the pirates and Zoro wanting to be the best swordsman in the world.
The game seems to be more directed at gamers who already know a bit of the plot, as the events in-game, which are typically comprised of thumbnail images with speech bubbles, tend to skip around a bit. One example would be at Whiskey Peak. The story literally states something like, “The crew arrived at Whiskey Peak and were greeted with a celebration. It turns out that it was a base for the criminal organization, Baroque Works, and Zoro manages to defeat all 100 bounty hunters in the area.” After these brief rundowns, it will typically move on to where the characters are actually talking to each other.
Those who enjoy watching the anime in Japanese with subtitles may be pleased to learn that in-game, when there’s a movie the voices are in Japanese with English subtitles.
The game starts at the beginning of the One Piece story and goes up through the Marineford arc of the anime/manga.
The gameplay of Romance Dawn is straightforward. You’re put into a level where you can move about fairly freely, and can even avoid most groups of enemies (I say most because there are some scripted battles you must fight). There are no random encounters in this game, which critics of many RPGs will likely be glad to hear.
When you enter a battle, combat is turn-based. Each character has his or her own unique combos and skills (which you can upgrade with SP) that cost varying amounts of AP to utilize. The AP will regenerate as your turn ends.
In battle you can move around on the map fairly freely before you act, though you will want to keep an eye on the rings on the ground, as they will inflict penalties when you cross them. The yellow ring will make your character have to wait longer to act again, while the red ring will make you wait longer and reduce the amount of AP you regenerate. These penalties may not seem like much, but they did make me lose a boss battle later in the game.
While it can become repetitive after a bit (I found myself avoiding most fights when looking through the maps for treasures), the addition of quick-time events, known in the game as Grand Stream Actions, ends up mixing things up enough to keep the game from getting too stale.
As you defeat enemies you’ll receive the standard rewards, such as items, experience, and SP, which is utilized to upgrade your abilities and skills (each can be upgraded to level 5).
The graphics in the game are actually pretty nice. Some may complain about the lack of 3D on the console, but I would remind those that this game was initially released on the PlayStation Portable in 2012. The character models are well rendered and during some fights, such as Buggy the Clown, the characters will pause to speak to each other. In these cases the characters will be artfully constructed still images.
One complaint I did have was the maps, however. Most of the maps tend to be extremely similar, with all the desert islands looking alike (the layouts are different), as do the Marine bases, tropical islands, etc. That said, it’s really a minor complaint in my opinion, and there are quite a few extra islands to explore.
Overall, I’d give the game a 7. If you aren’t a fan of One Piece, you’ll probably want to stay away from the game (unless you’re a die-hard RPG fan), but if you are a fan of the series and/or RPGs, you might want to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised by the game as most titles based on anime (in my experience) tend to get dull fairly quickly and become something of an effort to finish at times, but I played through this one to the end. It may have been because the story after Water 7 was new to me, so I didn’t know what would happen, or it could be because I tend to enjoy most games (with only a few noteworthy exceptions).
That said, those who aren’t fans would probably rate it a 5 or 6 while die-hard fans of the series would likely give it an 8 or 9.