One Piece : Romance Dawn

I debated putting up a review for this, but our scope for reviews is labeled as book and media, and well, I needed to tell someone about how disappointed I am. Because I’m needy like that.

For those of you (likely quite a few of you) unfamiliar with what a ‘One Piece’ is, it’s an anime. In this case, it’s the latest installment in the relatively successful gaming franchise springing from that anime.

While I’ve drifted away from that particular interest since I was younger, I still enjoy a few shows and a whole lot of games. I’m just not a big fan of slapstick comedy, which a lot of stories engage in.

Anyway–

Let’s talk about Romance Dawn.

When I read the back of the package, I was excited. One of the labels boasted, “Experience the first One Piece RPG! Level-up your crew, improve their abilities, and craft new items and accessories!” It sounded like a pretty well-rounded game with lots of things to do.

The box is lying. 

Sure, those features are in the game. They’re just mind numbingly flat. I was tired of the crafting system in less than ten minutes. About every level or so, you get a blueprint to make one thing, you make it, whoo.

You spend points to level abilities. Behold, Zoro stabs people in a slightly modified pattern of sword swings. Is it not glorious? Are you not impressed? (Guh.)

But perhaps the most obnoxious feature is the way they guide you through the storyline. For people who’ve watched One Piece, the story is a bizarrely vague outline with no context. Most of the details that would accompany a half-decent narration are gone, and while there are a few cutscenes from the anime, they’re few and far between. This leaves the player to watch icons of the characters banter in dialogue that is often disembodied, causing yet more confusion. You may find gems to the effect of a sourceless,

“Hiya!”

“What did you kick me for?!”

Who? What? Where? What’s going on???

The gameplay is also incredibly linear. In this respect, it’s a lot like the straight line dungeons in Final Fantasy XIII, without any of the graphics, events, or interaction to keep it interesting. There’s no world exploring. Just dungeon map after dungeon map. No NPCs, just mindless button-pushing.

thegame

That’s it. That’s the game.

I’m very, very close to giving up on this game entirely, because I got to the Baratie stage, and the developers saw fit to give players the gift of a ridiculously overpowered fourth boss. Everything else in this game has been a cakewalk. You go in with your party, you beat some mook down, profit.

Then they throw you at Krieg with one player and laugh while you die horribly. I did an internet search to see if I was doing something wrong. All suggested ‘strategies’ involve running for the hills and using a truly insane quantity of healing items, because while most battles in the game are turned based, Krieg ignores everything, poisons you, and then hits you over and over for a disgustingly excessive amount of damage before you can say, ‘bull’.

But really, there’s no reason for me to feel as frustrated as I am by this game, because there’s no point to it. After maybe fifteen minutes of gameplay, I felt like I was wasting my time performing some useless task. I’d rather play some village management game on my phone, it’s more rewarding and infinitely more interesting.

Also less repetitive attack yelling.

This game was such a major disappointment after all the other OP games I’ve played and enjoyed. The ones I’m still playing, because they haven’t gotten old.

1/…eh. I don’t even care.

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“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

“Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable.” —Anorak’s Almanac, Chapter 91, Verses 1–2

In our age of technology, communication and relationships are being redefined by MMORPGs, social networking sites, and online dating. After spending dozens of hours plugged into a computer, it can be difficult to distinguish these virtual realms from reality. But in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, this blurring of “real” and “kind of real” takes on a whole new level, asking what is worth living, loving, and dying for, and what it means to embrace a virtual life as your real life.

Ready Player One centers on Wade Watts, an 18-year-old “gunter” who lives with his aunt in a “stack” of mobile homes. He spends most of his time online in a virtual game called the OASIS, where people can participate in almost anything: school, church, even recreations of iconic tv shows. The deceased creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, left behind his enormous fortune in the form of a hidden Easter egg. Wade, along with other gunters, scours the online world for this prize, needing to attain three keys and open three gates before his avatar, Parzival, will be deemed worthy enough to win it.

It has been years since the competition started, and no one has even come close to solving the first clue. But Wade’s extensive knowledge of Halliday proves invaluable when he figures out its meaning; a race ensues between him and his fellow gunters, including his best friend Aech, and his romantic interest Art3mis. But the situation nosedives when a vicious group known as the Sixers catches wind of Wade’s accomplishment; if they find the egg, the OASIS will be destroyed. And Wade cannot allow that to happen.

Ready Player One is full of esoteric references that might go over your head, but they certainly won’t distract from the story. If you’re a fan of ’80s culture, you’ll get a gracious helping of tv show, video game, and music throwbacks. And even if you don’t like the ’80s, Wade and friends are sure to keep you entertained. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5, and I encourage you to add it your shelves right away. It’s time to enter a world of excitement, danger, and bravery: Are you ready, Player One?