One Trick Pony.
At first glance, Capcom's puzzler One Piece Mansion appears to be a real treat. Bright, vibrant colors, fluid, hip animations, and a manic soundtrack are three prime ingredients for any potentially rockin' party puzzle game. However, various modes and a multiplayer option are equally necessary, and One Piece Mansion lacks both. Super Puzzle Fighter, where art thou?
The story involves a building manager named Polpo, who's this stylish, androgynous boy-girl with angel wings cliché, and his attempt to rescue his sister from an apparently omnipotent alien force who, even though he's all-powerful, is jealous of Polpo's mansion. Sounds ridiculous? It is.
In order to get your sister back, you have to meet building objectives designated by the evil alien. The objectives involve tasks like sustaining thirty buildings or making your mansion fifteen stories tall. Once one is complete, another begins until you've completed seven missions, and rescued your sister.
The gameplay itself is straightforward and easy to pick up. You start out in a mansion with a random number of already existing rooms. Some of the rooms are empty, some have tenants already in them. All of the rooms are shaped like squares, so their layout is essentially a square grid, with elevators ideally going up both sides. Since each room is a square, each room touches 8 other rooms. If people get fed up and move out, their room explodes and all the rooms above theirs crash down to fill up the space Tetris-style, and you can build more rooms wherever there's space for a small amount of money.
In each room should go a tenant. At any given point in the game, you'll have at max three new tenants to choose from. The tenants are an esoteric, eclectic mix of scissors-fingered hair stylists (what's up with all the Tim Burton references lately?), smooching love birds and wall pounding ogres.
Each tenant puts off a vibe in one or several of eight directions (each room potentially touches eight others). Some tenants put off good vibes, some put off bad vibes, and some put off a mixture of both. The good vibes decrease stress, the bad vibes increase it.
Your goal is to balance the good and bad vibes by switching residents around (you can make 2 residents switch their rooms at a small cost) so that no one gets too stressed out, cuz once they get too stressed, they leave and their room explodes and that can cause a fire leading to all nine circles of hell breaking loose in some of the later missions.
Matters are complicated further by the cancerous "Trouble Residents" who come from the Syndicate 5, which is somehow under the influence of the evil alien. These guys basically jump into an open space in your mansion and stay there causing trouble. Not only do they typically stress people out in at least four directions, but they also leave their rooms to steal stuff and light fires around your mansion.
However, every time you take control of Polpo and bust one of the criminals in the act, you get a fat monetary bonus. In order to get rid of the "Trouble Residents," you situate a bunch of your most stressful residents around them and try to drive them out, all while completing whatever mission objective you're after.
The whole thing sounds terribly complicated, but playing is actually very easy thanks to a wonderfully intuitive and straightforward menu and control scheme. The complicated part is having a forty room building with six Syndicate 5 members all lighting fires and stealing crap and huge amounts of stress and fire and insanity all over the place. If you crave the sensation that the whole world is going to SH&%, then you've got to get this game.
Unfortunately, One Piece Mansion lacks what every puzzle game must have, and that is a multiplayer mode. It is still fun and crazy, but a single player puzzle game just not the same. It's really a monstrous shame.
Instead of a multiplayer mode, One Piece comes with a Free Play mode, where you basically set the difficulty and build a mansion with no objectives and no limit but the sky and your own maintenance faculties. Boring.
Graphically and aurally, One Piece effectively captures an arcade ambiance. All of the tenants have a distinct look (except for the random robots who want to move in) and animated sequence. One Piece's look and sound fit its arcadey play style perfectly, although once you get a really big mansion going, the overall picture becomes a mashed, pixely, ugly chaotic mess. This hardly matters though, as once you've gotten that far you should be completely caught up in all the awful mayhem that's tearing your apartment apart.
While a cool concept that's plenty complex and chock full of anxiety, One Piece Mansion shockingly fails to deliver a multiplayer experience, thus relegating it to that sad dimension of puzzle games that rarely get played. The Story mode lacks a story, the only other mode sucks, and without a friend to play against the game is just too repetitive to be worth buying. A one day rental should satisfy you Capcom puzzle nuts, while the rest of us will want to hang tight for the next two-player puzzler.