Also On: PS4, PS3, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Omega Force/Koei Tecmo
I don't know why it is I like some musou games and not others. Sometimes, like with Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3, I can't get enough of hacking and slashing my way through wave after wave of enemies. Other times, though — say, with Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate — I can't get into them at all. It helps, of course, if the particular title has been built for the platform on which I'm playing it (again, see SWC3), but generally, I find them to be hit and miss.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 most definitely falls on the "hit" side of the ledger. This isn't too surprising; after all, I was a huge fan of both Pirate Warriors 1 and 2, so it stands to reason that I'll be just as fond of the third entry in the series.
Unlike the other games in the broader Warriors franchise, though, I can tell you exactly why I like them, too. Simply put: they're absurd, over-the-top fun. Sure, the whole Warriors concept of a single person taking on literally thousands of opponents at once is ridiculous in and of itself, but it reaches new heights of insanity when you pair it with an anime whose main character is, as far as I can tell, an undersized pirate-boy with rubber limbs. Whatever joy there is to be had in wiping out an entire army with only your swords (and don't get me wrong, there's quite a bit of joy inherent in that feat), it pales in comparison to the delirious insanity of wiping out that army with your fists, or a slingshot, or a piece of pipe, or a comically huge sword.
And that's just your run-of-the-mill attacks. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 — like the games before it — really ramps up the insanity when you get to the special attacks. This is a game in which you can go after your foes with sharks, or hearts, or even good old-fashioned fists raining down from the skies. It certainly puts the usual Warriors special attacks of "spinning swords really fast" to shame.
This insanity continues when it comes to the story. I've never seen a One Piece cartoon in my life, so I have no idea how faithfully the game recreates its storylines, or the extent to which it relies on pre-existing knowledge of the anime in order for it to make sense. I don't think it matters that much, though. I mean, when you're fighting evil pirates because one of them stole your restaurant, what kind of story do you need? It's the sort of thing you should just embrace and go with, rather than something you should worry about too deeply. Did I mention you can attack your enemies with sharks?
The only area in which One Piece 3 doesn't shine is its graphics. While the cutscenes look solid enough, during the action the game has a bit of a problem with showing too many enemies at once. You know they're there because you can see them on the map, but you can only see them on the screen once you get right next to them. Outside of Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3, this has been the common complaint against these games on the Vita, so it's mostly to be expected, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.
Luckily, literally everything else about the game more than makes up for that minor deficiency. It's not often that a game will embrace its own ludicrousness and just be totally and completely ridiculous, but One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 does just that. These results are proof that it's not a bad approach for a game to take. (Also, shark attacks!)