One Piece: Romance Dawn (3DS) Review

Jae Lee


Sinking to the bottom of the sea.

I don’t remember the first time I saw One Piece, but I do believe that at one point I thought it had potential, as I still have the first five volumes of the manga sitting on a shelf somewhere in my house.

I think at one point I found that it just wasn’t the series for me, whether it be the characters, story or art style, and I wrote it off and stopped following it.

However, still to this day One Piece is a popular running shounen series, and Romance Dawn marks my first exposure to the series after having written it off all those years ago, and after playing it, I’m reminded of all the reasons why I did in the first place.

If he was such a great pirate, why did he get captured and executed?

Romance Dawn opens with an animated intro that verifies the notion that One Piece clearly has the most crying scenes in all of shounen.

The story begins its earnest at the start of the series, as Luffy makes his promises to become the greatest pirate ever. As expected, it skips over a lot of important information – his family and how he got his elastic superpowers are unexplained, as there are many skips as the plot is condensed to a mere shell of its true self.

Fans will find the haphazard butchering of their beloved story to be blasphemous, and newcomers will find themselves lost and uninterested as it does a poor job of laying the foundation.

While the game makes blatant use of the animated show’s screenshots to tell the story, it’s done poorly and there is very little to do other than watch little character portraits bobble up and down as they spout out nonsense for long periods of time.

Romance Dawn “covers” many of the story arcs in One Piece, but considering how poorly they’re produced and implemented within the game itself, I would say that this was not necessarily a good thing.

However, perhaps the game’s poor use of such coveted licensed material could be forgiven if the game play was compelling, but unfortunately, that is also not the case.

It’s even dumber than it looks.

The combat is broken off into selecting a target and doing a series of hits, and as the hits connect, the character gains TP which can be used to unleash special attacks.

Skill points earned after combat can be used to unlock new moves or extend the power of the ones already learned, but it basically boils down to just pressing the same two buttons over and over again without much thought and using a TP skill once there are enough points.

There is the element of positioning to try to get hits on multiple opponents with one attack and knocking them into walls for added damage, but much of it is inconsistent to execute and entirely unnecessary for success.

As each stage the player wanders through is the very definition of bland and uninspired with fights waiting at nearly every corner, it becomes repetitive and hellishly dull within the first hour of game play.

There’s also a crafting mechanic in the title involving collecting parts and recipes, but it just makes getting items feel more convoluted without adding actual enjoyment to the process.

Lastly, there are little mini games which serve to break up the seemingly endless cycle of walking around dungeons and fighting enemies, but they basically all boil down to glorified quick time events and nothing more.

Scenes that should be exciting play out as simple QTEs.

While I hoped that Romance Dawn would remind me why I was ever interested in One Piece in the first place, it instead cemented the idea that this series and game just isn’t for me. It’s not worth the time of all but the most hardcore of fans.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.



  • Original voice actors from the show


  • Uninspired and repetitive level design
  • Dull combat with very little strategy
  • Poor effort in condensing and telling a story


Jae Lee

Jae has been a gamer ever since he got a Nintendo when he was just a child. He has a passion for games and enjoys writing. While he worries about the direction gaming as a medium might be headed, he’s too busy playing games to do anything about it.

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