One Piece: Romance Dawn
Top Critic Average
One Piece: Romance Dawn is an attempt to fit a vast amount of story into a concise RPG, but the result is flimsy and underdeveloped. The turn-based battle is fun in a very average way, and the rest of the experience tempted me to put down my 3DS and just watch the One Piece anime instead. It’s not a complete disaster by any means, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to play a condensed version when the source material is readily available.
At best, Romance Dawn is a no-frills JRPG that relies on an almost photographic memory of the anime to enjoy. At worst, it’s a boring, monotonous slog through a universe you never feel like you belong to. If I hadn’t already sunk 20 hours into this adventure and were given the choice to do it all over again or take a long walk off a short plank, I’d take my chances at the bottom of Davy Jones’ locker. Do yourself a favor and watch the anime instead.
If the presentation wasn't so horrible, One Piece: Romance Dawn would be a decent way for a JRPG fan to spend an afternoon after they've exhausted their library of other more innovative titles. If you've always wondered what the fuss was with One Piece, you'd be better off watching the show or playing the fun, but flawed Pirate Warriors series.
It would have been fine to integrate the storytelling in the play—of which there is absolutely none—and had a “meh” battle system, because that would bring this up a few notches. But instead, it’s little more than an interactive manga with some battles tossed into some of the most boring environments this side of Dragonball Evolution. In fact, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but give me Dragonball Evolution instead of Romance Dawn. At least then I feel like I’m playing something.
One Piece: Romance Dawn is easy to summarize: It just isn’t any fun. I have no doubt that it could have been fun. As an outsider to the series, I was excited to see what it was all about. I had grand ideas of exploring the seas, fighting rival pirates, and experiencing a great story. All of those elements are here (kind of), but it’s surprising how lame they become thanks to terrible design. Ultimately, this game isn’t worth the time of anyone but the most devoted and patient fans of the series. The 3DS has several RPGs that are far more entertaining.
One Piece: Romance Dawn probably won’t be the worst anime based RPG you play, but it will certainly be one of the laziest designed. The combat system may be engaging enough for fans who are already familiar enough with the story to know what to expect, but for newcomers this game is a disservice to the fun of the series. Someday, when a better title takes its place, Romance Dawn will have a respectful position for where it all began. But for now, this is just a dud of a game in the box of a collectible import.
While I hoped that Romance Dawn would remind me why I was ever interested in One Piece in the first place, it instead cemented the idea that this series and game just isn’t for me. It’s not worth the time of all but the most hardcore of fans.
One Piece: Romance Dawn has some potential, but the long drawn out cut-scenes and lack of difficulty in the combat drags it down. Every level feels like it’s five to ten minutes of wandering around and fighting, then the same amount of time with the cut-scenes. Unless you’re a huge One Piece fan, you might want to think twice before picking this one up. It’s not terrible, but it definitely has its flaws.
Sailing the seas, encountering strange and weird enemies and boss battles, and seeing Luffy’s strange rubbery elastic body, One Piece: Romance Dawn had the potential to be a fun, action filled turn-based RPG, but instead Three Rings Inc. has developed something that is a complete wreck.
Frankly, it’s difficult to ascertain who would glean any semblance of enjoyment from One Piece Romance Dawn. Any ardent fan of the Straw Hat Pirates’ escapades will only find themselves angered by how little effort has gone into this tawdry misadventure, whereas this paragon of poor design will do nothing to bring new fans into the flock. Namco Bandai has published a number of surprisingly solid titles tied to their Shōnen Jump properties in recent years, but they've indisputably missed the boat on making One Piece Romance Dawn anywhere close to worth playing.