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Although One Piece: Pirates’ Carnival doesn’t match the standards set by the Mario Party franchise, it may make a decent alternative for gamers burned out on Mario or fans of One Piece. Either way there are much better ways to spend a night in with friends.
In a party atmosphere, Pirates Carnival will occasionally offer the kind of fun that causes people to absolutely freak when they lose in a tight match. A party atmosphere will probably go a long way in making the game's quirky sense of humor a bit easier to swallow, as well as helping you overlook some of the game's ho-hum minigames and agonizing pacing. However, the minigames lack the depth necessary to keep the game entertaining for very long. And though they have a lot of character, none of what's here is particularly compelling or enjoyable. In fact, without the board game premise, you really won't find a strong reason to go back to any of these games just for playing's sake. And that's where Pirates Carnival ultimately fails.
The gameplay is absolutely textbook in its design, and while a few of the games can be pretty entertaining, the sheer amount of variety is far too small. In fact, having One Piece: Grand Adventure releasing just weeks before Pirate’s Carnival may have been a bit of a blunder, as fans will find an infinitely better experience in the action/brawler than they will with this self-proclaimed party game. It just lacks the depth and variety of a closing console title (we’re on the fifth year for GameCube alone, and PS2 has been around even longer), and there are far better ways to spend your cash. The ability to earn new cards and play mini-games away from the main game was a nice addition, but there’s still no reason for One Piece fans to drop another chunk of allowance to play what can only be described as a shallower and less entertaining addition to the One Piece family.
One Piece: Pirates Carnival is nothing short of a poorly done Mario Party remake. There's nothing extraordinary about it; it would be a wiser decision to dust off the old N64 and boot up the original Mario Party, rather than to pick this one up. Boring, uninspired mini-games drag down what could have been a quality licensed title. Do yourself a favor and don't pick this game up: it's one piece of garbage.
It's nice to see a party game that breaks free from the aforementioned "roll the dice and advance on a board" style of gameplay, and the Othello-inspired premise results in some pretty decent multiplayer action. If only the mini-games that you have to constantly play were more alluring. Fans of the One Piece series will appreciate the extensive amount of voiceover work that appears in the game, including plenty of situation-specific conversations between characters (although sorry, otaku, it's all the English dub cast), and they'll clearly get the most out of this title. Anyone else might want to just dust off that old Othello set that's gathering dust in the back of their parents' closet.
While I’m certainly not a fan of the zany anime franchise that this game is based on, I like to think that I’m capable of remaining objective and judging a title on its own merits, independent of the license it’s tied to. I want to preface my statements that way, so that when I tell you how awful Pirate’s Carnival is, maybe, just maybe, you’ll believe me. Now I know you like those wacky characters and their crazy pirate antics. And yes, there sure are a lot of frantic, button-mashing, party-style minigames unceremoniously stuffed into this title. But you know what? Even if you have dozens of ugly, smelly sofas to pick between, buying any one of them means that at the end of the day you’re still going to be staring at an unattractive couch that smells bad in your living room. And you don’t want to do that to your dog. He has to sleep up there, man.
Once while playing with friends the action came to a screeching halt with an error message displayed on a red screen. That's pretty much unheard of for a console game, and Scott thought it worthy of an automatic F. You can bump up the grade by a letter if you're a One Piece fan, but most gamers would be well advised to sidestep this quirky, buggy title.