Fans of “One Piece” rejoice! “One Piece: Pirate Warriors” is a great dive into the story of how Luffy met his gang.

You roll through the backstories of many different characters through the young hero’s perspective. As an additional nugget of fun, you actually get to play as Luffy’s treasure-hunting companions during certain parts of missions.

This is a beat-’em-up hero-against-an-army style of game. But I’m definitely not complaining. “One Piece” lends itself very well to the idea of thousand-to-one odds, and seeing that manifested in gameplay is very rewarding. There are a few things that pull the game down a bit, but “One Piece: Pirate Warriors” still gets a respectable grade.

“One Piece: Pirate Warriors” lives up to the standards set by “Dynasty Warriors” and “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes” well. In addition to the basic premise, developers have added some extra minigames to keep levels interesting and set the game apart.

Our hero, Luffy, received special powers after eating Gum-Gum Devil Fruit. You get to put those powers to good use: attacking enemies with rubbery, spinning arms or grab distant objects to slingshot yourself to a new part of the level. The button-mashing, combo-running goodness is still alive as you run through each zone.

The drawback is that you don’t seem to fight a lot of enemies at once. When you enter an area, you’ll usually have a good group of enemies to blast through, but they don’t spawn very quickly. After that first group is wiped out, the rest of the enemies trickled in in sets of three or five. It makes the level advance very quickly, but it almost makes the fights tedious. A number of times I was sitting around because I hadn’t defeated enough enemies to advance and new ones weren’t spawning fast enough.

“Pirate Warriors” is beefed up through intense boss battles and time-limited stages. I did find the heightened difficulty of boss battles pretty jarring, and many times, the boss fights were outright unfair. That said, the battles could still be enjoyable. During the climatic battles, players are suddenly exposed to new moves and attacks and need to adapt during the fight, which keeps everything quite engaging. Unfortunately, these sequences are few and far between, not enough to keep your blood pumping consistently through each level.

“Pirate Warriors” is a great combination of everyone-vs.-you gameplay and the “One Piece” universe. That alone sets the game apart from others in this style.

There are a lot of puzzle levels varying from escort-style missions to jumping around a cavern to throwing flaming barrels across the map to light a bonfire on the other side. It mixes up the game enough that you don’t get bored with just completely repetitive fights.

So, as I put this game back on my shelf, I’m thinking most about the storyline. However, there also is an online mode after you get to a certain point in the game. So, if ever you get an itch to play with your friends via couch co-op or online, you can choose different characters and replay levels you’ve already beaten.

All in all, I was happy I played the game and will probably come back when the mood strikes for beating up some anime pirates.

Platform: PlayStation 3

Online: namcobandai pirate-warriors1

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