One Piece: Romance Dawn (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Shane Jury 12.02.2014 1

Review for One Piece: Romance Dawn on Nintendo 3DS

As far as Japanese manga goes, there are very few more successful than the pirate-themed One Piece series. Created, written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda, One Piece has been going strong from 1997 to this very day through weekly manga updates, spawning numerous games, movies, an anime adaptation and even a trading card game. Thanks to overseas publishers picking up the distribution rights, the series has amassed over 345 million volume sales across the globe, putting it forward as the best-selling manga series to date. As for the video game adaptations, overseas fans haven't had the best of times with localisation rates. From the very first game on the WonderSwan, From TV Animation - One Piece: Become the Pirate King!, to the most recent announcement of One Piece: Unlimited World RED, only 13 of the 36 in total have appeared outside of Japan. One Piece: Romance Dawn in particular is a rare breed; a PSP port of the same name from 2012. Is this game a treasure chest waiting to be plundered, or should it be cast away into Davy Jones' Locker?

One Piece: Romance Dawn places the player right at the beginning of the series as main character Monkey D. Luffy as he sets off to sail the seas in search of the fabled One Piece, a legendary treasure hidden by the greatest of all pirates. The game progresses through each of the important story arcs of the manga as new crewmates and rival pirates are met and fought. As such, from a story perspective, Romance Dawn is good for interested prospective fans looking to get into the series and of whom wish to have a little more interactivity in doing so.

That might be stretching it a little, though. Romance Dawn's method of storytelling consists of static character portraits and barely-dynamic text to weave its tale, broken up by the core gameplay of the title to leave little as a viable alternative to simply reading or watching the source material.

Romance Dawn's gameplay in particular is of the turn-based RPG sort. Upon each area that is visited from the world map - be it a story-based island or one of the many optional areas that can be opened up by finding maps - players start off in a long corridor of sorts. The background setting and breakable objects nearby will change to fit the flow of the story, but the basis is the same: run down numerous corridors to find the passage to the next area. Along the way, boxes can be broken and chests opened to gain items and skill upgrade points, and visible enemies can be battled to gain experience. This concept isn't necessarily bad per se, but the sheer number of times it has to be done will wear thin quickly; there is very little variation on this formula at all, save for a boss battle in the last area.

Screenshot for One Piece: Romance Dawn on Nintendo 3DS

Battle itself is fairly straight-forward, too. Each of the three pre-selected characters on the team get a number of strikes to use each turn, and by pressing highlighted buttons in the right order and timing they can unleash attack combos on the enemies. Choosing when to do so and making use of the free-roaming movement allowed when using a move adds some strategy in creating attack chains and hitting more than one foe. Again, however, aside from upgrading the skills with the aforementioned points and unlocking slight move variations, this is essentially something that players will have to do over and over again. With later enemies and unfortunate difficulty spikes, any novelty this system has would soon be dismissed.

One Piece: Romance Dawn's porting process has sadly left a number of scars on this 3DS rendition. The text and icons aren't properly optimised for the 3DS' screen so it can be unfocused at times, and menu and icon selections are far too unwieldy when a simple touch screen re-configuration should have been simple. The bottom screen itself is relegated to a map when exploring, which does come in handy for the many similar-looking corridors, but has very little use elsewhere. The biggest omission of all is the game's non-use of the 3D slider. Games built from the ground up can be forgiven for ignoring the 3D feature of the hardware, especially with the 2DS now on the market, but when one makes the trip from the humble PSP to the stronger internals of the 3DS, there is very little reason to ignore it. Even a quick pop-out of the logo at the start screen would have been better than nothing.

This One Piece adventure is strictly for the solo adventurer and will last him or her a fair while, providing they can chug on through it. Repetitive level structures, fights that can stretch on too long, and almost sadistic difficulty spikes that leave grinding as the only option to proceed makes this one hard to recommend.

Screenshot for One Piece: Romance Dawn on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 3 out of 10


One Piece's 3DS debut in One Piece: Romance Dawn sets sail but is quickly sunk under monotonous fights, endless corridor roaming that would put Final Fantasy XIII to shame, and a recurring reminder that it is merely a slapdash port adapted to none of the 3DS' strengths.


Namco Bandai


Namco Bandai


Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop


I would say that One Piece really has poor sounds. I wanted something I can really enjoy and understand, in English distinctively.  I was hoping I could have this but thanks for this review. I know now what to expect from this game.

There s always a kid inside each of us

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