“One Piece: Burning Blood is a fast-paced fighting game featuring 3 vs 3 Melee battles. Engage in massive brawls by strategically choosing your team of characters and swapping them out during the heat of battle. Use Logia Moves for unique abilities and the powerful Haki blow to break through enemy defences, while Devil Fruits are the source of massive Special Attacks. Featuring a multitude of different game modes, One Piece: Burning Blood is also the first ‘One Piece’ game ever to be released on an Xbox console.”
– Official One Piece: Burning Blood press release
– Simple yet enjoyable fighting –
Given that One Piece: Burning Blood is based on an anime that features a large cast of zany pirate warriors, you can imagine that the source material really lends itself to a fighter – the biggest obstacle would be making the battling itself enjoyable.
Fortunately One Piece: Burning Blood delivers a great fighting experience, offering battles that are simple yet very enjoyable. There are no complicated button combinations to learn or complex range of skills that’ll counter or block your opponent’s attacks. Battles take place over a spacious circular 3D environment too, giving you no limitations in your movement.
You have your standard quick attacks that can be strung together into combos, more powerful special attacks that utilise a character’s strengths and also your defensive manoeuvres that consist of blocking and side-stepping. Each of these attacks are easily performed with a simple button press – there are instances where you’ll have to press two buttons at the same time, but battling never gets more complicated than that.
Whilst the simple nature of the fighting can keep combat feeling slightly limited, each character in the game manages to feel unique thanks to their own particular strengths and weaknesses. Some characters might focus on getting up close and personal, whilst others are better used from a distance. Whilst each character doesn’t have a huge move-set to take advantage of, they do at least offer a variety different ways to approach each fight.
This is helped by the fact that most of the fighting you’ll be involved with are team battles. Given that each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, the team-based gameplay and the freedom to swap between characters freely opens up some surprisingly tactical battles. If you’re up against an opponent that struggles at range then you’ll want to bring in a fighter who can take them out from a distance – alternatively, if it’s an opponent that’s more effective from long distances then you’ll want to bring the battle up close and personal. There’s a surprising amount of depth in each battle that isn’t always apparent, but One Piece: Burning Blood can provide some really tense showdowns.
– Great visuals –
One area in which One Piece: Burning Blood really excels is in its visual design. I’ve always enjoyed the visuals of games based on animes, especially when the developers try to re-create the art style authentically, and that’s certainly what developers Spike Chunsoft have done here – the visuals that look like they’ve come straight out of the One Piece animated series and they look fantastic.
Characters are perfectly re-created and animated fluidly with their in-battle attacks genuinely looking like they pack a punch. There are plenty of cool visual effects that accompany them too, really emphasising the effect each move has when it pings across the head or body of your opponent.
The game’s environments look great too, with surroundings that wouldn’t look out of place in the anime itself. The battlegrounds themselves aren’t packed to the brim with detail, but it doesn’t really matter when you’ve got some great vistas on show in the background.
Whilst everything is vibrant and colourful, it’s helped that One Piece features some of the most zany character designs I’ve ever seen in an anime. Whilst characters like Luffy or Whitebeard look relatively normal, the Hook-inspired Captain Crocodile and the… difficult to describe Emporio Ivankov look outright insane. Each character looks great in-game though, making One Piece: Burning Blood as enjoyable to look at as it is to play.
– Multiplayer battles are great fun –
I spent an absolute ton of time with One Piece: Burning Blood’s local multiplayer modes and it was a blast. Whilst it gives you the chance to try out each character and see what works for you, the simple nature of the gameplay also offers an even playing field where anyone can win. It took playing multiplayer to appreciate the effort that had gone into making One Piece: Burning Blood feel like authentic One Piece experience too – whilst I’ve never invested myself into the anime, one of my friends who I played against had and he certainly loved using his favourite characters in-battle.
Whilst I didn’t get to have a good look at the online multiplayer ahead of review, there were the standard versus options available. There was also an additional mode called ‘Pirate Flag Battle’ that saw you joining a pirate faction with the aim of defeating a rival faction to claim spaces on a map. It reminded me of a more in-depth version of the clan battles from Mortal Kombat X, but it’ll allow players to really invest into the online mode outside of standard battles.
– Lack of longevity –
Whilst I’ve mentioned that the accessible nature of the game is a good thing, it also works against it in the long term. It’s great that One Piece: Burning Blood offers simple pick up and play gameplay, but the lack of depth to each character means there isn’t a whole lot to keep you invested in the game. Sure, the ability to take three different character types into battle offers a variety of fighting styles, but with such a small move-set for each character it doesn’t offer the same sort of longevity found in fighters like Tekken or Street Fighter.
Of course there’s plenty of time to be spent in the game’s multiplayer modes, but given how simple the gameplay is it doesn’t really open up too much as a competitive fighter. There’s nothing to master – just something to play for short bursts. Whilst it won’t be a problem for everyone, for me it means the game is limited to short bursts of playing as opposed to committing to long term to master.
– Nasty difficulty spikes –
Throughout the game’s many story arcs you’ll get given a multitude of objectives to complete that range from simply winning to the likes of surviving as long as possible against a particularly tough opponent. Whilst these objectives are fairly straight forward to complete, the game occasionally throws a spanner in the works by introducing a difficulty spike that makes the game almost frustrating to play.
So often I would easily beat a level only to find myself getting constantly pulverised in the next. It happened pretty early on in the game too – after completing the first story mission I instantly struggled in one of the following missions. Whilst this could be owed to me not being very good at the game, it was unusual that in the following mission I could go back to winning with ease. Whilst these difficulty spikes aren’t a regular occurrence, they appear often enough that you’re left constantly retrying a level and contemplating just turning off the game.
Whilst it certainly lacks the depth and longevity of traditional fighters like Tekken or Street Fighter, One Piece: Burning Blood still offers an enjoyable fighting experience that can be appreciated by almost anyone – even those who haven’t heard of the One Piece anime or manga.
The gameplay is accessible and fun, the visuals are vibrant and bring the world to life, whilst the unique cast of characters really stand out in a genre that’s often limited to muscle-heads and voluptuous women. I mean, where else can you dish out a beating as a transvestite army officer who bears a striking similarity to Dr. Frank N. Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show?