One Piece: Grand Adventure Hands-On

We set sail for an adventure of considerable size with Monkey D. Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates.

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Though it featured a nicely sized cast of fan-favorite characters and did a good job of capturing the series' oddball anime art style, last year's One Piece: Grand Battle still left something to be desired. Developer Ganbarion is expanding on the formula with its follow-up, One Piece: Grand Adventure, and we've been putting an early preview build of the game through its paces.

Some unique fight objectives should help keep things interesting.
Some unique fight objectives should help keep things interesting.

The core action in One Piece: Grand Adventure is still highly reminiscent of Capcom's classic brawler, Power Stone, and usually consists of a one-on-one slug-out in a small arena that you can move about freely. You can string together potent combos and super attacks, most of which we found to be quite easy to execute, and the levels are often peppered with boxes containing weapons and performance-enhancing items. As far as new gameplay features go, Grand Adventure introduces support characters that you can call upon in the heat of battle to assist you. All told, Grand Adventure will feature 24 playable characters, as well as 50 support characters, though you'll have to play through the actual grand adventure mode to unlock them.

While last year's Grand Battle played as a footnote in Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates' quest to find the legendary treasure of The Pirate King Gold Roger, Grand Adventure makes that quest the focus of the action. In the aptly named grand adventure mode, you start out with no crew, and you must guide Luffy as he encounters familiar faces, fights them, and eventually befriends and adds them to his growing band of pirates. You travel across the high seas through a series of maps, each of which usually contains several islands and other points of interest, and you'll have to go through at least a half dozen or so fights before you advance to the next map.

The grand adventure mode will be lengthy, consisting of more than 20 of these maps. This mode also promises more than just one-on-one fighting, and during our time with the game we encountered fights where we had to beat up a horde of enemies or destroy a number of boxes before time ran out. There's a minor RPG element to the Grand Adventure mode as well. Every time you win a battle, you will get experience points based on your performance that you can use to level up your character's abilities.

Some unique fight objectives should help keep things interesting.
Some unique fight objectives should help keep things interesting.

There are also often bonus conditions that can earn you additional experience if met, such as finishing a fight in a certain amount of time, using an item to deliver the final blow, or finishing the fight with a certain amount of your life bar left. There's also a grand battle mode, which cuts straight to the action. Here you can hone your sills in the training mode, compete in a customizable tournament, battle your way to number one in the arena mode, or just go against a friend or a CPU opponent in the versus mode.

One Piece: Grand Adventure seems to have retained much of the production values of Grand Battle, and fans can expect to see more nicely cel-shaded characters and ridiculous-looking combat. We caught a fair amount of original voice-acting in between fights, though we also noticed that some of the in-game voice acting was a bit repetitive. One Piece: Grand Adventure is set to hit both the PlayStation 2 and the GameCube later this month.

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