Over the past few years, I’ve been revisiting the anime and manga of my youth. One of the titles that I revisited and have since stuck with is One Piece. There’s a simple reason for that, it’s a damn good story, with damn good writing. The world of One Piece is vast, and so too the breadth of its characters. The story might feature a massive cast of characters, but each and every one of them seems to have a purpose in their grand world.
It’s rather fitting, then, that One Piece Burning Blood — the latest video game outing for One Piece fans — would feature a large number of those characters as combatants. By now, you’ve no doubt seen the game’s motif which has heavily accompanied promotional materials for the game. One Piece Burning Blood has a large emphasis on the Marineford arc, which you’ll likely remember as one of the highlights from the series.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the game itself, One Piece Burning Blood doesn’t necessarily deliver on that front. The game’s story mode revolves around Marineford, and it actually does a fair job retelling the story through various cutscenes with text and images from the anime. However, there’s one slight problem. The game expects you to fight through Marineford four different times as different characters. The story for One Piece Burning Blood might be presented as somewhat of a centerpiece, but in reality, it falls a bit short.
While the story is presented well enough, the experience is marred by a very short length. It almost seems as if the story portion of the game was added as an afterthought, which is only further demonstrated by the four versions of it that you’ll work your way through one after another. Since fighting games are typically more about the gameplay than the story, and since One Piece fans are probably more than familiar enough with Marineford, I won’t fault it too much for that. However, the execution does seem noticeably sloppy.
If you were hoping for a comprehensive retelling of that arc, this isn’t it. For some people, that’s okay. As someone who spends majority of their time in single player modes, it’s not exactly ideal. I did manage to play through the entirety of the story as all four characters and complete each and every extra mission, but at the end, I certainly didn’t feel like the story was enough to warrant a $60 purchase. Thankfully however, the game does have other merits.
One Piece Burning Blood features a rather impressive roster of both playable characters and support characters. You’ve got just about every Supernova, and although the game’s story takes place during Marineford, a number of characters from Dressrosa as well. Sabo, Bartolomeo, and Rebecca all make an appearance, with the total cast of the game approaching 40 characters excluding DLC. For support characters, you’re looking at closer to 60.
Support characters serve to help you during battle, which means that 60 characters from the series aren’t playable. That list includes some pretty heavy hitters, like Arlong, Don Krieg, and Rob Lucci and Scratchmen Apoo. It’s nice to see them in the game, but it feels like some characters could have been playable.
Outside of the story mode, there a number of modes you can participate in. I imagine that your typical fan will probably spend most of their time playing online, but as I’m not very competitive when it comes to fighting games, I chose to avoid it as much as possible. One Piece Burning Blood isn’t a particularly deep game as far as fighting games go, but it was hard enough completing the story section.
In fact, one of the reasons why the story was so difficult come down to balancing, something which I imagine could become even more problematic if the game is played online. Certain characters perform very poorly against others, and while some people might consider this to be a form of balancing, I found it to be somewhat frustrating. Particularly during the story mode. To give you an example, Whitebeard is one of the four characters that you can play as in the story.
While he may have been faithfully recreated like the rest of the cast, that faithful recreation can at times be problematic. As fans of One Piece know, Whitebeard is somewhat of a goliath, towering over most of the other characters. It’s like that in the game, too. While he may be true to his manga counterpart, it felt like more of a bad thing when I was fighting Akainu. There are a number of advantages that devil fruit users are given in One Piece Burning Blood that are meant to be countered by haki.
One of those advantages is extended mobility and the ability to use their logia to guard. Holding down a specific button will not only allow you to utilize your logia powers, but it will also make you virtually invincible as the enemy tries to hit through your elemental body. Since Whitebeard is so large and fights with a two-handed weapon, he becomes somewhat cumbersome. That’s not a great match when you have the mobility of Akainu with his Magu Magu no Mi.
Another interesting thing is that the move list for the game refers to the actions rather than button presses. Rather than listing guard as circle, which is what is used in the PS4 version of the game, it simply lists it as guard. There are a few stages early on in the story that teach you how to play, but a significant portion of the game’s tutorials seem to be locked behind a mode called Wanted VS Bounties.
Of course, if you’re used to Spike Chunsoft’s fighting games, you’ll probably get the hang of it in no time. As someone who doesn’t typically play fighting games, I found myself having a hard time. I came in as a huge fan of One Piece, and I left feeling somewhat disappointed. The game itself is fine enough, but don’t go into it expecting a lengthy and detailed story. That’s not what you’re going to find here. But hey, if you’re not sure whether or not you want to pick the game up, you can always try the demo first.
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 5/31/16
- Tons of faithfully recreated characters
- Fun, fast combat
- Online modes will keep fans busy
- Short, repetitive story
- Balance issues at times hinder gameplay