Sunday, October 8, 2017

One Piece: Grand Battle Review - Set Sail For a Battle Royal!

    March 17, 2005 (Japan)
    September 7, 2005 (North America)
    October 7, 2005 (Europe)
Platform(s): PlayStation 2
Genre(s): Fighting
Developer(s): Ganbarion

    Bandai/Namco Bandai Entertainment
    Atari (Europe)
Player(s): 1-2


Ever since it's debut on the Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997, One Piece has proven itself as a juggernaut of a franchise. It's comic has sold over 300 million copies worldwide making the best-selling manga series of all-time and it's one of the biggest money-makers for Toei. In many ways, it has arguably dethroned Dragon Ball from top of the shonen empire. Unfortunately, this success never really caught on with North America (and we know why...) but we did manage to get a few video games at least.

One of those is the game I'm reviewing right now called One Piece: Grand Battle, originally released as One Piece: Grand Battle! Rush in Japan as the fourth and final installment of the Japan-only Grand Battle series. This version is significant different as much of the content is altered and removed as 4Kids hadn't gotten that far with the anime at the time it was released.

But anyways... is the game a buried treasure or a load of barnacles?


The gameplay of One Piece: Grand Battle is similar to that of Power Stone... a 3D arena fighting game where players can interact with the stage by using parts of it as a weapon either it be environmental hazards, objects, or pitfalls but first onto the core combat. The left analog stick allows the play to move his/her character and the face buttons allow you to do jumps, grabs (both opponents and objects), straight attacks, and up attacks while the right trigger allows you to guard. These buttons can be combined to do even more stuff such as basic combo moves, ranged attacks, and specialty moves. Likewise, the left trigger in junction with the face buttons will execute a Super art (which take at least a whole Super Gauge) like tapping the guard button twice will summon a support character to help lay on the damage. They attack in various ways ranging from being aggressive and in the opponent's face to launching projectiles from afar. You can also perform one of two Super Attacks with a 1+2 combination of the face buttons (always involving the front attack) and even a trump card called the Secret Art (which takes all 2 gauges).

The control scheme is pretty much the same for every character though that doesn't mean they don't have their own set of tools to work with and somewhat varied playstyles. As you can tell the combat of Grand Battle is quite simple and it works in it's favor... but at the same time I fear it may be a little too simple. Several moves can be spammed unfairly like the Secret Art move that every character has. It has a fairly long-range, it only consumes Super Gauges if it lands, and it can wipe out more than half the opponent's health if the user is low on health themselves.

Now with all that said and done about the combat, let's talk about the stage interaction aspect. Each stage is has all sorts of obstacles and hazards either it be a wild cow or Alvida going on a rampage if you hit them, or pirates throwing shit at you but items are typically found in treasure chests, crates, and barrels that randomly appear. The chests carry all the goods like Ham to replenish health, running shoes which increase movement speed but makes attack weaker, a shield which increase defense and makes you harder to knock down but you move slowly, a sword which increases strength and makes attacks unguardable but you can't guard yourself, and a gem which makes Super Arts more powerful and allows you to perform a Secret Art perfectly while barrels and crates come with objects for more means of offense like a Poisonous Mushroom, a Beehive to disorient opponent's movement, a Bonfire, a Bomb, and Gaimon who you can use to shoot pistols along with throwing it like all objects. These elements makes the gameplay very chaotic and that's where most of the fun is had. My only complaint is that some stages have a little too much going on within them plus there's no real option to turn any of this shit off nor is there a special stage like Final Destination in the Smash Bros series where there's next-to-no obstacles getting in the way.


One Piece: Grand Battle sports a healthy selection of game modes to choose from. First being Grand Battle which is the standard versus mode where you can either fight the computer or duke it out with a friend with adjustable setting and a stage of choose. 

Next is Story Mode where you pick a character to play through their story and there are 5 battles in total however this game doesn't seem to follow an overarching story. The cutscenes before and after matches do nothing to explain the situation, and the dialogue/reasons that characters have for fighting are pretty damn stupid (not in a good way). Story Mode is also where you get all the unlockable characters which is doable by playing through the mode with all the starting characters but are actually only unlocked through beating it on higher difficulties with certain characters (Luffy and Zolo/Zoro to be more precise). It won't take very long as there's not that many characters (only 14-16 total with 10 being available from the start) and like I said, there's only 5 battles plus a box-destroying challenge bonus stage. 

Third game mode of selection is Mini-Games where you play through a variety of Usopp's Pirates' minigames (originally Davy Back Fight's minigames) with a team of 3 (your choice of course...) such as the box-destroying challenge from Story Mode, cleaning off the snow pile on Drum Castle's rooftop, breaking Don Krieg's armor, a boat racing competition where you must stop the opposing team from cheating, tossing Gaimon into the opponent's goal, and a custom battle. You play 2 of them at random before facing off against Captain Usopp (Foxy in Japanese version) himself. These minigames are pretty fun and make great use of the game's core mechanics plus they can be unlocked to play at the players' leisure (with the exception of the final duel) after winning the game a certain number of times.

Fourth, there is Grand Tourney which is a tournament mode similar to that of the one in Smash Bros. You can set up a tournament with up to 32 contestants (at least 1 human player), adjustable settings like in Grand Battle mode, and a stage where the tournament takes place. You don't gain anything after completing the tournament so it's really all just for bragging rights.

Last but not least, we have Training which you can guess is the standard practice mode and it actually takes place on a stage with no real obstacles. Your options are pretty standard- you can make the computer either be a training dummy, guard while being attacks, or fight like an opponent during Grand Battle but you can also successfully perform all of your character's to earn extra unlockables for them.

Game modes aside, Treasure and One Piece Art serve for the game's extras. Treasure is basically a character database stuff like belongings, voice data, portraits, and profiles while One Piece Art is frames taken straight from the anime. These features will no doubt be appreciated by hardcore One Piece fans.


One Piece: Grand Battle is a very pretty game. It makes expert use of the cel-shading technique which gives the game a color, vibrant, and detailed cartoony-look with character models that look just like their anime counterparts albeit chibi-fied. The animations accompanying them are also fun to watch although one thing I don't get about it is the mouth movement. They either move like the characters are chewing gum or don't move at all even when characters are clearly talking.


This is certainly one weak aspect of the game. The one elephant in the room has to be mentioned is the voice acting. It's pretty bad but what else can you expect from 4kids and their abomination of a dub they gave for the anime? The music is also pretty forgettable. Sure it's fitting towards the game well enough but none of the tracks stand out for me.


If One Piece: Grand Battle has one thing going for it, it is definitely in it's presentation. Each Characters' signature moves from the anime are here and they represented quite well. The Secret Arts in particular are so over-the-top flashy making them fun to watch and cathartic to pull off. Several familiar areas from the anime are also available to fight in during this game like Arlong Park, Alabasta Kingdom, Loguetown, and Baratie which have all sorts bells n' whistles hidden within them. Monkey D. Luffy and and Sanji's demeanor even change while facing certain characters. Luffy is more angry and serious in tone against a great adversary while Sanji acts lovestruck facing Nami and Ms. Sunday (Nico Robin).

Outside of combat, the game's menus always have something going on either it be characters interacting with players while other characters are messing around in the background or artifacts from the anime serving as a template for the menu structure. 

The cutscenes for the Story Mode are lack though. Aside from the aforementioned nonexistent story they are demonstrated through speech talk in front of an anime cut-out for the character that is speaking. 


For an anime-based fighter, One Piece: Grand Battle is surprisingly good but it's still lacking the depth and complexity for those who want more out of their fighting games. This game is definitely worth checking if you're just looking to mess around with friends especially if they're fans of One Piece. Not so much for anything beyond that.

I give this game a 6.8 out of 10.

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