I remember the spring break when I first played Dynasty Warriors. I had gone out to my friend Austin’s place. We were about 16 because he was able to drive, and I remember going to Gamecrazy to try out the new Dragonball Z game at the time. I specifically recall fighting against a gay guy and when he picked Frieza his boyfriend made the most hilarious tsk tsk face and asked, “Frieza? Really?”
After we arrived at his double wide we sat down with one of his friends that was already there, mashing away furiously. He was playing a game where you fought hundreds of dudes at once.
I picked up a controller and lost a week.
The Baratie arc of One Piece is so deeply embedded in my mind it’s almost eerie. As I watched the cutscenes, I couldn’t help but scream the dialog out loud as it happened. I’m convinced I could have played that whole section without subtitles. One Piece is something I’m a part of, and its part of me.
Whenever I see Zoro—bleeding out on the ground, swords broken—screaming to Luffy about their intertwined fates, I cry like a wee babby.
When Luffy holds Dr. Hiluluk’s flag in place while Wapol blasts him with cannonballs I cry like a wee babby.
When Usopp gets gomu gomu no bazooka’d because he mustered up the balls to stand up to the future pirate king—you get the idea.
One Piece makes me believe that I’m more than just my shitty body. Dying is one thing, but to let your dream die would be truly disgraceful. And I would posit that it wasn’t anybody’s dream at Omega Force to make One Piece: Pirate Warriors (One Piece Kaizoku Musou).
The game has few rare moments when I really feel like the unparalleled pirate that I was controlling, but for the most part the game plays like a weird mash-up of any generic Playstation 2 beat’em’up mixed with Sonic the Hedgehog. When you’re not rolling around at the speed of sound, the Dynasty Warriors-esque territory grabbing missions are a refreshing break. Yes, doing the same thing you’ve done since 2001 is a relief here. A relief from all the quick-time events, gum gum rocket puzzles, and shitty camera angles. And the icing on the cake is that the game completely skips Skypeia and Thriller Bark. Hope you didn’t like those arcs.
Of course that’s just the story mode I’m talking about. As is Dynasty Warriors tradition, you have a free mode which is infinitely better simply because it is Dynasty Warriors. It lacks the hilarious, and tragic “What if” stories that were present in Hokuto Musou, which is truly disappointing as its what I was looking forward to. Could you imagine a story where Zoro never met Luffy and inevitably had to hunt down each member of the Straw Hat crew? Me neither but I mean Hokuto Musou had shit like that.
The game also lacks any really meaningful character progression. You level up and numbers go up. Standard fare. But do you remember the sphere grid-like progression in Hoktuo Musou? Remember deciding if it was worth it to take the ougi when you knew that you really needed that extra health? Instead, OPPW has a coin system where you put “coins” in your characters’ “pockets” which raise their stats or unlock specific effects. Certain combinations of coins unlock special abilities, which I admit was really fun to do. It essentially rewards you for your knowledge of One Piece. If you play, by the way, combine Luffy, Ace, and the Vivre Card. The bonus is really good.
The playable character roster is okay. The actual number of characters is acceptable. The problem is that One Piece has so many and I’m hurting that some of my favorites didn’t make it in. Some aren’t even in the game at all (Hello, Captain Kuro, Shanks and Smoker). Chances are your favorite non-strawhat isn’t playable. Then again the game is published by Koei so expect about thirty sequels.
So why can’t I muster up gall to say the game is bad? Because it’s not. It’s just Dynasty warriors. And it’s One Piece.
I knock you into the air with an anti-manner kick course. My leg’s on fire. I’m kicking you in the face.
I hit you in the knee with a hammer and explode a bottle of hot sauce as I run away.
I conjure a giant hand that picks up a marine and slaps him away like a volleyball.
I’m going to be the pirate king.