The first official US game based on 4Kids Entertainment and Cartoon Network's popular One Piece anime has arrived in stores--One Piece: Grand Battle is now available for the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance.
On the PS2 and GC, the 3D fighter features 16 playable characters from the show, appearances from 32 more characters, seven interactive environments, and unlockable characters, items, costumes, and minigames. It also uses cel-shading to create a stylized look in keeping with the series' roots as a popular anime as well as a successful manga appearing in Shonen Jump. The Game Boy Advance version of the game plays out more like a traditional 3D platformer with unlockable special moves and customizable minigames. All versions of the game follow the protagonist Monkey D. Luffy as he attempts to sieze the title of Pirate King, though such a post seems inherently meaningless without a Carribean Queen.
One Piece fans needn't worry that this is the end of the line for licensed wares based on the series, as 4Kids and Toei Animation have already signed a deal to have North American toy-store shelves full of One Piece action figures and role-play sets by the end of the year. There's also a Bandai One Piece game being developed on the PSP and numerous Japanese One Piece titles that have yet to be localized, although no American releases have yet been announced for those.
One Piece: Grand Battle for the PS2 and GC is rated T for Teen and carries a $39.99 retail price. The Game Boy Advance version of the game is rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older and retails for $29.99. Check back later for GameSpot's full review of the console versions.