It is the world’s most popular manga series of all time, reaching all corners of the globe and even trouncing the legendary Dragon Ball series. It is none other than One Piece and it all began with the dawn of a romance. After all the root of all things One Piece is romance – a love – a passion for dreams and the adventure to them.
One Piece’s romantic tale that has resonated with millions around the world since it began serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine way back in 1997. Now just over 15 years later we have One Piece: Romance Dawn for the Nintendo 3DS, a game that draws its title from the original chapter of the One Piece manga.
After all these years it is only fitting that we get a game like this. One Piece: Romance Dawn is a glorious retrospective on the legendary series, allowing players to revisit the series story from Chapter 1 all the way up to the New World. This is the game One Piece fans have long dreamed of, a true trip down memory lane, or even a journey into uncharted waters for those uninitiated into the wonderful world of One Piece. Whether you are in the know with One Piece or not, One Piece: Romance Dawn is all kinds of fun.
This may very well be the most truest RPG experience that One Piece fans have ever seen. In the past One Piece games have tended by and large to be beat-em-up style fighting games, few actually implementing an RPG style of gameplay. None have been so very much ingrained in the RPG style as this one though. One Piece: Romance Dawn is a turn-based RPG game that chronicles the story of One Piece in grand fashion.
While the story of One Piece is a real hook in and of itself, the true highlight of One Piece: Romance Dawn is its addictive gameplay. In particular the turn based battles are a rip-roaring lot of fun. Over the course of the game you will encounter a plethora of battles against marines, pirates and other manner of enemy. There is a fair amount of strategy involved in the combat portions of the game that at first may not be immediately apparent. Attack choices and movement decisions can prove to be critical in certain battles against tough enemies and boy oh boy are there some difficult bosses in this game.
With the strategic side of the battles you come to see that character progression isn’t something that happens naturally but rather something that you need to put attention towards. This does mean that some grinding is necessary in order to be strong enough to take down some particular tough bosses. Thankfully the combat gameplay is so intuitive and addictive that it hardly feels like a grind at all.
As you level and progress your party you will come to discover that there is a fairly complex level of customization for each character and the stat-building component of the game is quite deep as far as what type of characters you are looking to shape for battle. All in all the combat mechanics are the real highlight of this all around fun game.
There are a few problems in terms of the story aspects however. The most apparent is the hit and miss translation work on the game. There are times where there is some flat out broken English in lines of dialogue and even out of character remarks. It is stiff at the best of times and it is undoubtedly something that dampens an otherwise enjoyable experience. The dialogue clearly needed a bit more work on it but it is hardly a deal breaker for long time fans who will understand the situation at hand regardless. Those new to the series may be left somewhat puzzled at times however.
For the most part the story is accurately portrayed and hits the right emotional notes when it needs to. It is just somewhat disappointing that more effort was not put into the dialogue to fit the feel of the characters and story. Be it something lost in translation or whatever, it is a sore point for the game.
All in all One Piece: Romance Dawn will surely please fans of the series by providing a great nostalgia-filled retelling of the story in an RPG format. However it may be lost of those new to the series.
Visuals and Audio
Aesthetically One Piece: Romance Dawn is quite impressive, featuring some superb 3D visuals that are simply bursting at the seams with the flavour of One Piece. The characters and world are represented brilliantly in this game, bringing them to life on the 3DS. Unfortunately the game does not make use of the 3DS’ 3D function whatsoever, opting for a non-3D experience. As a 3DS owner who is more inclined to not use the 3D function this doesn’t bother me, however those who do use it may be left a little disappointed that the world of One Piece isn’t represented with the full 3D stereoscopic display.
The soundtrack featured in One Piece: Romance Dawn brings the full spectrum of the One Piece world into musical form. There is songs of adventure, tunes of heartbreak and the tense sounds of fierce battle. It is very much a One Piece soundtrack and it does a great job at backing the action on screen.
One Piece: Romance Dawn is a love letter to the series in a way that no game before it was. One Piece’s grand tale of romantic adventure is captured brilliantly in this RPG epic. While there is a few hiccups with dialogue and translation, it is an all around great representation of the series and without a doubt the game that many One Piece fans have dreamed of. It may not be for everyone, but this is certainly a game for One Piece romantics.
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