I recently wrote a piece where I talked about how much One Piece has spread since its serialisation, how influential it has become in Japan with numerous different generations, and how it has spread all over the world to the point that Olympians mimicked signature poses from the series.
Considering just how popular this series is — I mean, there aren’t many other series out there that have achieved what Oda has with One Piece — its games are severely lacking. So today I want to talk about some of these games; the good ones, the bad ones, and my hopes for the recently leaked One Piece Odyssey.
I want to start off on a positive note when it comes to One Piece games, so we’re going to be starting with the Pirate Warriors series. The Pirate Warriors games are “Musou” games, which use the same formula as the ever-popular Dynasty and Samurai Warriors games by Koei Tecmo. These games typically have you playing as one of a large cast of characters and then proceeding through a level while beating up hundreds upon thousands of enemies that relentlessly throw themselves at you — it really is a fun genre, seemingly mindless but often with hidden depths.
I guarantee, as an anime fan, you have probably seen numerous of these games being made based on a series you are aware of, maybe even a fan of. Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, Gintama Rumble, Arslan: Warrior of Legend, Fist of the North Star, Gundam Warriors, Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors, and most recently there was Persona 5 Strikers. It’s a popular genre in Japan, so game developers who manage to get their hands on the license of a popular anime series can make easy money through a Musou game.
Despite the abundance of these games, the One Piece Pirate Warriors series has been a genuinely fun experience that allows me to play through the story of One Piece as some of my favourite characters, beating the hell out of hordes of enemies, all while performing some incredibly animated super attacks. The mix of the mindlessly fun Musou genre blends together so well with almost any battle series, that it makes total sense as to why they make so many of these games — they are a lot of fun!
This is where we step into some dangerous territory, as this game felt like it had a tremendous amount of hype building up to its release, but it all boiled down to something that really could have been done with more time in the oven. Outside of Pirate Warrior’s developers making One Piece games tried a few different methods, none of which were all that great.
Finally, we hear of this mystical game called One Piece: World Seeker, a game that was going to take Luffy and Co off on this linear path that we had been stuck on, and instead be allowed to freely roam around the map, and to top it all off it was a story that the author, Eiichiro Oda himself, was supervising! — the dream RPG One Piece game was here!
I will say that the game looks fantastic and it captures the feel and essence of One Piece really well, but it’s in the mechanics that the game starts to show its flaws. The controls are clunky and just outright bad at times, the lack of fluidity makes combat feel cumbersome at times, and enemy AI is just bizarre — just traversing the map can trigger an enemy sniper that locks on to you instantly and shoots you out of the air sending you plummeting to the ground.
I feel like a lot of anime games suffer in the same way that World Seeker does, in that they feel as though they are just a couple of steps away from being something truly great, but they always fall short. I don’t know whether it’s a lack of budget or developers doing just enough to be passable and then banking on the series’ popularity to make a profit — but it’s always a bit disappointing.
What do we know about Odyssey?
First up, let’s have a look at the name — Odyssey. An odyssey is a series of adventures filled with hardships and experiences. If we are to take the name literally, then we can perhaps hope for a One Piece game in which we get to play through numerous arcs each set in different locations, as opposed to the single map of World Seeker.
Now let’s have a look at some of the rumors that were circulating on Reddit — do take these with a veritable bucketload of salt, since these are just rumours that someone heard from “someone at Bandai Namco” and are extremely unverified.
Firstly, the game will supposedly be made by Spike Chunsoft, the creators of some less than stellar anime tie-ins such as DragonBall Z Kinect, Jump Force, and One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows — as well as some great non-licensed games. I shall be quite honest, should this rumour be true I can’t say I would be terribly hyped; while Spike Chunsoft have made some great games, their licensed anime output hasn’t been great.
The next rumour is that there will be character customisation, as your personalised character will be assisting Luffy in his adventures throughout this game. Jump Force flashbacks, anyone? To be fair, if this works in a similar way to the Dragon Ball Xenoverse games, I wouldn’t really mind it — however, Jump Force being the game that it was, and a Spike Chunsoft game to boot, doesn’t fill me with confidence.
Next is the fact that the game will supposedly incorporate RPG elements such as exploration of multiple islands. I think that this is one of the most common requests from One Piece fans on the whole. One Piece is a series about exploring the world and encountering all the crazy things the world has to offer on the quest to find the Pirate King’s treasure. A One Piece game that nails exploration would do wonders for fans — I get really excited just thinking about it! Traversing the different oceans on your ship, then exploring the islands using Luffy’s Gum-Gum powers — it would be fantastic.
The last rumour is that the game will turn into a 3D arena fighter when you go into battles, similar to Jump Force or Burning Blood. This doesn’t really surprise me at all, and even with Jump Force having scarred me I don’t think I mind this too much — should it be implemented well.
When I think of anime-inspired 3D fighters or beat ’em up games, I think of the Naruto Storm games by Cyber Connect 2 and the sleeper hit Asura’s Wrath by Capcom. Both of these games blend spectacular cinematic sequences into their combat — and it works really well. These sequences are usually accompanied by quick time events, which determine whether the player character succeeds or fails in the cinematic moment.
Anime, especially shounen battle series, are known for their incredibly cinematic and over-the-top battles that leave you speechless, and I think that One Piece, a series filled with some of the greatest fight scenes, needs to include this in Odyssey.
Will any of this end up being true? It remains to be seen, so as noted take the aforementioned rumours with a pinch of salt. But there’s potential here, at least.
What would you like to see in One Piece Odyssey? Let us know in the comments — or write us something longer for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page!
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