Despite its second-tier status in the United States, behind Dragon Ball and Naruto, One Piece is actually the best-selling manga series in history, by a very large margin. The pirate-themed series follows the adventures of the rubber-bodied Monkey Luffy and his motley crew of pirates known as the Straw Hat Pirates.
With over 30 One Piece video games already made, there really isn’t much opportunity for Burning Blood to strike much new ground. If you’re not already a fan of the manga or anime series, this latest game, published by Bandai Namco, probably won’t win you over.
The last time the Straw Hat gang was seen on a home console, it was in an action-adventure game, Unlimited World Red. While that game was certainly ambitious, its handheld origins provided too many obstacles for it to make much noise. Again a primarily handheld developer is tackling One Piece’s journey to the living room, but this time the adventure has been stripped down to a brawler, in the guise of a fighting game. While Burning Blood might technically be a fighting game, its simple mechanics make it an awfully basic one.
One Piece: Burning Blood, despite being a pretty simplistic fighting game, actually does do a pretty good job of presenting an essential story arc. The cell-shaded art and animation blend seamlessly with in-game assets, and the subtitled Japanese voicework is authentic. Even if you’re new to the story and characters, the game does an adequate job of catching you up, though it might take half of the campaign to really get all of the characters and their roles down. That’s mostly because there are a lot of characters in the story, and in the game itself.
There are actually over 40 playable characters in One Piece: Burning Blood, and the problem with the game is that so many of them fight alike. While I’m not an advocate of insanely difficult button combinations to pull off special moves, the vast majority of Burning Blood’s combos are just a matter a pressing two buttons simultaneously, which results in a lot of button mashing. While that does make the game more accessible, it also robs you of much of the satisfaction of beating a tough opponent, and makes winning feel like a result of luck and endurance more than any real skill.
Even though the fighting might not be up to par, there is an awful lot of content to be found in One Piece: Burning Blood, once its available, of course. In addition to playing through the Paramount War story arc, all of your typical fighting modes including online play are here. There are also a number of alternate costumes and other bonuses that can be unlocked. As long as you’re not too picky about the actual combat, everything you’d expect to find in a fighting game is in Burning Blood.
The level of presentation in One Piece: Burning Blood is really quite good. From the art and animations, all the way to the sound, the game really captures the manga and anime series’s spirit perfectly. This carries over to the combat, which like its source material is over the top, at least in its appearance.
But this all falls apart in the actual game’s mechanic, which is likely to be too simplistic except for the greenest of all fighting-game novices. Even for them, the tedium of the combat is what’s most likely to discourage players from completing Burning Blood.
One Piece: Burning Blood is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, and Violence This game can also be found on: Xbox One, and Windows PC.