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Preview: One Piece: Grand Battle (Gamecube, PS2)


By Michael Palisano

Based on the popular animated series, Bandai's One Piece: Grand Battle for the Nintendo Gamecube and PlayStation 2 is set to offer plenty of brawling action this fall. The game offers large interactive environments based on the series, multiplayer action and, surreal combo moves. The look of the game follows the design of the popular series, with many of the main characters making appearances. The game will also include a ton of extra items that will allow you to upgrade your character. One Piece's solid gameplay mechanics and challenging bosses should make this a solid title that should appeal to fans of the series and fighting game enthusiasts alike.

Set in a world of pirates and ships, One Piece: Grand Battle follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a pirate in search of the greatest piece of treasure of all, the powerful One Piece. This game is based on the popular animated series, and looks to faithfully reproduce many areas from the series, which should make for an interesting variety of locations. Players will be able to battle against many of the most popular characters from the series including Sanji, Luffy's faithful cook and a number of boss characters. As they progress through the game, players will use their skills and gadgets to defeat ever more powerful foes and bosses with their ultimate goal of moving closer to find and claim the One Piece treasure. The game will feature several different modes of play including a 6 character multi-player grand battle game and a one-on-one Versus mode where two players can battle it out. Players will be able to select from one of 16 different characters, each with their own unique fighting styles. There's a surprising amount of depth in One Piece's fighting system. Each of the game's 16 characters has over 20 regular moves to use, plus special and ultimate attacks, which should give the player plenty of options. The game will also include a whopping 32 support characters, who can be called on to increase your strength. During the game, players will also be able to collect various items and gadgets to increase their character's abilities. There will be hundreds of these available in the course of One Piece, which should add to the already addictive gameplay. Players will also be able to unlock a number of extra items including a number of cool hidden features. These will include additional characters, costumes, items and mini-games, which should extend the game's replay value even further.

In some respects, this seems like a fairly traditional title, but look deeper and you'll find that there are a few twists that should make for an interesting game. For example, unlike traditional fighting games where the action is strictly linear in predefined roles, players will be able to walk around the environments and battle other characters and bosses with a variety of attacks and combos. Adding to the immersion, One Piece: Grand Battle will let you grab objects and use them as weapons against your opponents. This should make the battles feel much more open-ended while also giving players a sense of freedom. This open-ended approach will also allow for a much greater variety of tactics, such as hiding behind objects or sneaking up behind opponents and unleashing an attack. One Piece's gameplay will also allow you to call in a support character to join in the battle, making the battles more like melees than one-on-one attacks. One Piece Grand Battle's open-ended fighting structure, top down viewpoint and simple approach to battle movement recalls Capcom's classic Power Stone series, but One Piece's unique sense of humor and the characters' over-the-top attacks and zany antics should give the game a different feel.

One Piece: Grand Battle's bright, colorful design looks to remain faithful to the feel of the series, with the action punctuated by cool super finishing moves that jump right off the screen. The characters in the One Piece game also look just like their anime counterparts, though changed 3D polygonal characters and fully realized environments that will utilize slick cel-shading technology to stay consistent with the anime's overall design. Also staying consistent are the stages, which are based on locations seen in the series, with 7 different environments planned in all. This approach should please fans of the cartoon series, while giving those less familiar with the series an interesting taste of One Piece's appealing characters and storyline. The environments also look impressive, with large expansive battle areas with many destructible and interactive elements that will give players plenty of freedom of movement and tactics. One Piece; Grand Battle looks quite impressive from an aesthetic standpoint at this early stage and looks to recreate the essence of the series' over-the-top characters and action effectively.

While it would be easy for older player to overlook One Piece: Grand Battle due to its source material and younger skew, this will probably be their loss. The game shouldn't be discounted out of hand since it's looking like a solidly constructed fighting game. The game looks to offer a great deal for younger fans of the series, allowing them to play as their favorite characters and relive adventures they've seen on the series. However, older players will also probably be able to appreciate the game's open-ended fighting system and interactive environments, not to mention the many unlockable items and extras that Bandai is going to throw into the game. The game's visual approach is also looking quite impressive, with 3D polygonal models overlaid with cel-shaded textures to create a cool animated look that's faithful to the series' design. Bandai's One Piece: Grand Battle looks like an excellent fighting game that will capture to the spirit of the series, yet offer satisfyingly deep play mechanics and extras. This should be one of the better cartoon tie-ins this year and shows quite a bit of promise.

One Piece: Grand Battle

Publisher: Bandai 
Developer: Ganbarion 
Genre: Fighting/Anime 
Platforms: PS2, Gamecube 
Release: September 2005


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