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Salty Thoughts: What a One Piece superfan thinks of Pirate Warriors 3

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Setting sail for the virtual seas!

It's been nearly 8 years since I've started watching One Piece and it seems to be one of the only constants I have kept when transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. So you can bet your bottom beli I jumped at the chance to take a look at this game. After completing the story mode, a few multiplayer SOS's and a quick jaunt through the dream log felt that I had my fill to give my impressions of the game. 

As a quick background before diving into the game, I'm a massive One Piece fan. I do a weekly recap on the site, I've watched close to all seven hundred summit episodes of the anime including half the released movies. I spend hours on the Wikia to brush up on the lore while tip-toeing around manga spoilers and won't shut up about it whenever it's brought up in conversation. On the other hand, Dynasty Warriors and musou games are completely alien to me. My history with the gameplay style can only be described as a lazy afternoon keeping my nephew entertained at a family affair. Flashy action on a split screen with little interest in Japanese military history or strategy.

Diving into One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 was an interesting affair for a guy with a mixed background such as I. 

Looks like the show, sounds like an elevator lobby

Presentation wise the game looks great. Like a high definition moving coloured manga, the looks and feels stunning. This is supported by having the seiyu reprise their role from the show making it feel like playing through an episode. The game captures all major set piece events from the story and animates them wonderfully. Unlike Toei's ever fluctuating animation budget for the show, this animation is crisp and detailed. The cutscenes recreate the key visuals featured in the story helping fans reminisce on the many adventures they have embarked on with the Straw Hat crew.

For me, it felt like a trip down memory lane taking Luffy from his humble beginnings in Shells town to becoming a major enemy of the world government for the sake of his crew. I'm really glad they spent the time to keep as accurately as possible to the original story and try to cram as many references to the arc as possible into the 30-minute missions. A really nice touch was having the 'To be continued' end cards at the end of each mission hammering home the fact you are playing through the anime. 

But it's not all there. Although the game feels like a One Piece title from the visuals, the vocals can only take the game so far. There are no familiar tracks in this game. Having the unique themes of each Straw Hat as you play as them would've really made me connect with the game on a much deeper level. After 700+ episodes, you really grow attached to the tracks. I was expecting to hear; Mother Sea for the tragic cutscenes, character eye-catch motifs for the results screen and Overtaken for the finale of each stage. They would've tied the knot on this incredibly immersive experience. Instead, the music that is provided is forgettable. 

It's in the little details...and the big ones, too

The game gets very bipolar about the amount of detail it would like to have with the franchise. To date, it's the most accurate One Piece video game title. It's a game that doesn't allow players to purposefully retcon the story mode. You can only play as certain Straw Hats on certain levels as long as they were participating in the bulk of the fighting in the arc. For example, you cannot play as Robin in the CP9/World Government Arc as she was being held hostage and you cannot take Franky back to Syrup Village to Strong Right Kuro in his smug face. Only the characters that fight in the show, fight in the game. That also means unlocking Nami can only be done at the Alabasta arc since she is fairly useless without her Clima-tact arts even though she was recruited in the Arlong Arc. 

I really like how the game incorporates the different devil fruit abilities into the gameplay rather than just being a purely cosmetic addition. Logia Devil Fruits are considered the most powerful since the user embodies the element it possesses. This means typical sword swings and gun shots should not be able to affect them and it's shown in game by having many attacks being useless when pitted against a Logia user. It's not completely foolproof as spamming attack (like you're doing every 2 seconds) will cause the armour to break but I appreciate the extra effort they went with incorporating it into the gameplay. 

All devil fruit were not made equally regardless of Oda's weird way of power boosting some of the most inane powers I've seen in fiction. There are some gameplay issues that just go against the lore of One Piece and there is two that stand out the most to me. The first is Luffy's Gum Gum Fruit. It's supposed to make him immune to gunfire and it's shown off a lot in the show from him ricocheting back bullets and cannon balls. Playing through the first level, you can still get hurt by bullets albeit really minor chip damage. But it just doesn't make sense especially when the cutscene he is shown saving Zoro by bouncing bullets back at the attackers.

My second gripe is the second level that features Buggy the clown, a clown pirate that ate the chop chop fruit. By definition, this guy cannot be cut up. Not slashed or stabbed, completely immune to sharp objects. In the show, the world's best swordsman Dracule Mihawk couldn't damage this East Blue Rookie in the battle of the best. In the second level, you are allowed to take the role of Zoro, the Straw Hat's first mate and resident swordsman. As always at the end of the level you have to fight the main pirate and, in this case, it was Buggy. I was expecting a difficult fight due to my poor choice of fighter or even an option to switch back to Luffy. The game ended up letting me fight Buggy as Zoro and winning without any resistances to any of my attacks. This just shouldn't happen. His body can be sliced in any way and survive so by theory he shouldn't have been able to lose. You could apply this logic to when Luffy fought Enel but even in the manga and anime Luffy got fried a few times despite the natural advantage. Enel was able to power himself up into a electric god compared to Buggy not changing anything about himself. 

And other nerdy nitpicks

Like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, Pirate Warriors 3 follows the story up until the current arc and just like the Naruto, provides an alternative ending to the incomplete arc. In this case, the Dressrosa arc is heading towards its end in the manga and finally coming to the showdown between Luffy and the big bad Doflamingo. Unfortunately, the ending in this game has a lot to be desired. Just like Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, the game plays it incredibly safe and has the bad guy escape just after defeat.....
It really leaves a sour taste in my mouth especially when Law and Luffy are backed by the entire Straw Hat crew and Aokiji (yeah he's there too). Doflamingo is still able to run away into the sky without any of them giving chase. This is wrong for so many reasons. Doflamingo had so much stake in Dressrosa not only as his Kingdom but also for business purposes. Would he really run away from a factory producing artificial devil fruits to supply to one of the four emperors of the sea? Or even abandon his head scientist Caesar after bargaining and scheming to get him back from Law. Doflamingo doesn't even attempt his signature move Bird Cage trapping the Straw Hats and their allies on the island!

Despite my old man ramblings about the smallest detail (the default costumes aren't even canon!) I still really enjoyed the game. Every character feels unique and unlike most games I've played recently, I still want to jump back on and mindlessly attack drones with my favourite One Piece character. A current favourite is post time skip Tashigi but it just feels wrong attacking Marines as her. It is definitely the best One Piece game I've played so far and has the most comprehensive retelling of the story outside of the anime. Any One Piece fan should try to check this out as the reviews are indicating it's better than the previous two. Just try to take everything with a pinch of salt otherwise you'll end up as a salty sailor like me.

ricochet
To be continued


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Anthony Redgrave
Anthony RedgraveContributor   gamer profile

Born in the 90's, Anthony was raised on Anime and cultivated a strong passion for Japanese culture and paraphernalia. He has dabbled all manner of web shenanigans; from webcomics to game developm... more + disclosures


 



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