Ahoy! Welcome aboard my One Piece: Romance Dawn 3DS review my Nakama!.
First thing is that it's designed for fans of One Piece and not people looking to get into the series. Starring up and coming Pirate King Monkey D Luffy and his band of Strawhats. The game covers the manga series from the Romance Dawn arc all the way up to the Marineford arc.
Promoted as the first RPG of One Piece this was first released as a PSP game and how now been re-released on the 3DS seeing it's first release in Europe!.
The character models are average, they look like the anime counterparts and up to where I am, they are wearing the original costumes.
There is no 3D in this game, it is disabled. As someone who rarely uses 3D (so far it's only been Mario and Zelda iv used it on) this doesn't bother me too much. It was released at a lower price but it is a little disappointing how it's not using the main feature of the 3DS.
Cutscenes have been few and far between, they did create a fresh one for the game and it was very pleasant to look at. The issue is with the lack of them it shows the game up and also you have little idea of what's going on. What you have instead is static scenes similar to the Tales of Skit sequences only less dynamic.
Another issue to point out is that the text doesn't always properly fit the text bubble! This may be a font issue but in 2013 this shouldn't be happening with a release from the likes of Namco-Bandai
The level art work is all consistent with the manga/anime, not so much the side islands where it is just a generic theme.
Being an RPG Romance Dawn employs the use of several common RPG conventions. A turn based battle system, equipment equipping, stats, item creation, exploring and dungeon crawling & last but not least party members.
Anime/Manga games in the past have translated well to the RPG format. For example Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans & Naruto: Path of The Ninja. Unfortunately this isn't one of those cases this seems like a lazy cash in and a waste of the One Piece licence.
Firstly the exploration is hampered by the fact the levels are boring and lack any distractions apart from walking forward. Samey hallways would cause huge confusion if it wasn't for the mini map on the touch screen.
Combat is unfortunately also fairly average, featuring a weaker version of the battle system used in Final Fantasy X. Careful use of SP results in different combos depending on what button you press, after a few battles you'll pick it up quite fast, which is fortunate as the tutorial is just a few walls of text during load screens.
Little additions such as group attacks and bounce damage help to spur you on, but much like this game all over it's a minor distraction for much bigger things.
Customising the Strawhats is quite refreshing. Once you have hit the grind hard enough or been lucky enough to find for example a pirate wristband, you can equip a character with it and it becomes visible on them. This doesn't work for all items but is a nice little feature often overlooked.
Item creation is pretty bog standard stuff, find a blueprint, find enough materials then create item, over and over again.
No hub areas mean you'll be jumping from dungeon to dungeon with little downtime. Side missions appear as extra islands around Islands already established in the series, more often than not an area you have been to before with enemies you have beaten before. Worth a visit for a grind but nothing spectacular which is unfortunate when you'd even accept a fetch quest.
Overall I am very let down by this product. As a One Piece and RPG fan I wanted nothing more than for this to be at the very least a good game.
What lies before me is a lazy product with very few redeemable features which I'm playing purely based off the licence it's built around. It is an average One Piece game shown up by the recent Koei offerings and as an RPG it flounders.
If you are a One Piece fan add a point to the score I give as you may find some enjoyment reliving the Strawhats adventures (not all of them Skypeia and Sabaody have been cut!). But over all this does nothing new for RPGs and certainly would be a terrible way for up and coming fans to experience the wonder of One Piece, if you are after an RPG fix there are a lot more places you should stop before here!
Review by Andi. Supplied by Andi.
Published by Namco-Bandai, released 29/11/13