Written by Twisted Ideas
One Piece hasn’t been getting enough love in video game form, especially compared to fellow Shonen Jump series Naruto and even Bleach to a certain extent. Most One Piece games have been less than stellar. This is the second game in the series to use the Dynasty Warriors’ formula. Will this second outing make up for what the first game lacked?
What is it?
One Piece is a Japanese manga about a boy who dreams about becoming Pirate King. He ate a Devil’s Fruit when he was young turning him into a rubber man. On his quest he assembles a crew of diverse and uncanny characters who on several occasions drew the attention of the world government.
Pirate Warriors 2 does not follow the canon of the series. It takes elements from the series to create an original story effectively merging characters and places from before and after the two-year time skip.
The Straw Hat Pirates find themselves returning to Punk Hazard and discover new dials. These dials possess people nearby and are able to be controlled against their wills. A majority of the marines and the Straw Hat crew are affected by the dials forcing both pirates and marines to join forces to save their friends and allies.
Pirate Warriors 2 is a Dynasty Warriors style of game. It throws thousands of enemies into battle. Stages consist of territories that influence the number of ally or enemy forces. Generals and main characters are much stronger the cannon fodder enemies; They take and deal more damage and are more proactive in offense, main characters more so. Stages tend to progress by defeating generals/main characters or capturing territories triggering the next event in the stage. You can fail some missions but the stage won’t end unless your main base is captured or you or the leader is defeated.
There are 37 playable characters in the game. The controls don’t vary much but there are some idiosyncrasies for some. As characters level up their health, attack and defense increases. They will also learn new attacks. Initially you can only level a character up to 50 but after you complete the game and beat stages on Very Hard mode you can raise characters up to 100. You can pay Beri to raise a character’s level equal to your highest level character up to 50.
You have light and heavy attacks that lead to several chain attacks. As you fight you gain SP and Style points. SP allows you to activate special attack using one of the maximum of four bars. As you level up you get a second special attack that costs two bars.
Style mode adds extra moves to most attack chains and will either enhance damage for attacker types or slowdown enemies for technical types. When you accumulate enough KOs in style mode your support gauge fills. You can call in your partner to fight temporarily until your support gauge expires or you use your special attack. Support crew is invulnerable to attacks.
The coin system are items that you collect during stages and after stages. They can be equipped to character increasing their stats in one of the three categories. When certain related coins are next to each other you get an additional stat point. Collecting coins helps complete skill notes that give characters passive abilities.
How does it look?
Pirate Warriors uses cel shading that matching well with the anime. The detail in the cel shading is much better than even the Tales of games. The characters and environments look incredible. There can be literally hundred of enemies on the screen at a time but the frame rate doesn’t suffer often. Enemies in the distance or off-screen are often unloaded visually but when visible they seem to have lost half their frames. There are camera issues when you lock on to an enemy and near walls or corners. It doesn’t happen often but it can cause problems.
How does it sound?
The voice acting is Japanese only and uses the same voices heard in the anime. The soundtrack is loaded with fast and upbeat songs and calming music for the menus.
What do I think?
I loved Dynasty Warriors when I was younger. The they kept on releasing the same game over and over. I have no interest in the feudal Chinese history/mythology of the series and the thrill of killing hundreds of enemies wore off quick.
I eventually started playing the anime spinoff series. First I played was Fist of the North Star. I never read the manga but the abridged story was good. I just wasn’t a good game. It was slow and you had to rely on special attacks to clear a crowd effectively. The second one I played was Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2. I’m was a fan of Gundam despite only watching Wing, Seed and Seed Destiny. I always wanted to watch the older series but I never got around to it. It a much better game but you never felt as powerful as you should be. You can’t clear crowds quickly even with special attacks. At best special attacks would kill 40 but you often saw enemies standing outside of the attack range. Eventually some of the weakest enemies got harder to kill and it stopped being fun to play.
One Piece is my favorite Shonen series but most One Piece games were pretty bad. The only one I enjoyed was Unlimited Adventure on the Wii but it did have its share of problems. When I saw videos for the first Pirate Warriors game I wasn’t impressed. The animations were great but there were quick time events and just small amounts of enemies at a time. I passed on it but when I saw Pirate Warriors 2 on sale late last year I bought it right away.
They simplified the mechanics to feel like Dynasty Warriors and spinoff games but they just added more enemies. There are literally hundreds of enemies on the screen at a time which are easily dispatched. Some special attacks are capable of getting over 100 KO’s at once. To balance the difficulty they added more generals and character enemies but when you equip the proper skills most enemies are easily defeated. Some characters are much better at dealing with crowds than others but most can rack up KO’s quickly. There also isn’t an annoying weapon system but rather opting for the universal coin system. It isn’t as interesting but it doesn’t limit any given character for not having the best equipment.
There are a few problems that I had with the game, however. You can make your character over powered to the point where you have cleared the map and have to wait for the level events to happen. This usually consists of the all the characters speaking and the redundant stage information to pass. This makes some story levels last over 20 minutes. This is frustrating if you play through these levels again.
Every general and main character is capable of using Haki (style mode). I understand the main characters using it but the generic generals characters is annoying. If you don’t go into style mode most regular attacks will be deflected. Some characters don’t have good attacks to deal with Haki. If you don’t have style or SP then you either have to wait for it to wear off or space yourself and try to hit them with effective moves.
Should you buy it?
Despite all the hate Dynasty Warrior type games get they are still fun games. The problem was that they released too many and ran the series into the ground. It doesn’t follow One Piece canon beyond characters and places so it doesn’t fall into the trap of telling the same story as the previous game which is a problem that Dragon Ball Z has. One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 is by far the best one in the genre. They make you feel more powerful than ever without making the game too frustrating. If you’re a fan of the series or Dynasty Warriors then this is the game you have been waiting for.