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by Capcom

sshot2-01.jpg (10499 bytes)Ok, so you’re this cute little superintendent, Polpo, of a very successful hotel. Your rise to fortune has, in the games’ own words, "greatly agitated" some of your rival hotel owners. They kidnap your sister and will only give her back once you prove you are worthy to be the most successful super…and…yeah… well, it’s a puzzle game! And it’s a wacky Japanese one at that. Did you expect a Metal Gear Solid-esque plot?

sshot3-01.jpg (10600 bytes)Luckily the game compensates for a poor plot with some truly inspired gameplay. In this 2D title you’re not trying to make blocks disappear by lining them up or manipulate dice to get the highest possible score; instead you are mearly trying your darnedest at controlling the stress levels of your tenants. Why should you care if the people in your building are happy or ready to go postal? Well, if they get too pissed-off they quite literally explode, and you gotta make a new room. You see, the tenants all have different effects on neighbors. There are little arrows that point in eight different ways. Blue arrows reduce stress and red arrows increase it. They can also cancel each other out. So if a guy in a room has a red arrow pointed at him, you can get someone with a blue arrow to point at him, and nothing will change. Knowing what the tenants do is a very important part of the game. Some tenants, like the sweet little girl, radiate peace and love which reduces neighboring tenet’s stress levels. Others, like the practicing ninja, can get to be a bit too aggressive to be socially accepted, and they really yank one another’s collective crank. You might ask, "Why let the ninja and his cohorts in the building at all?" The answer is Syndicate 5.

sshot5-01.jpg (11547 bytes)Syndicate 5 is a local gang that likes to invite themselves into your humble abode. They stress everyone out and try to set the hotel on fire. They have no redeeming qualities at all. They must be gotten rid of. How? Remember that pesky ninja fellow? He’s your new fair-weathered best friend. You put him in a position that will cause great annoyance to the Syndicate 5 member. Eventually he will explode just like the other tenants, and you will be rid of him . . . for the moment.

sshot1-01.jpg (12131 bytes)The levels you play have one of three goals: Raise X amount of money, build X amount of rooms, or get the mansion X stories high. Other than raising money, these stages offer little challenge. If you need to make twenty rooms, why not just wait till you have twenty tenants in your cache and put them in all at once? The same goes for raising the hotel. A story only needs to have one person on it, so why not wait till you have enough for one person per story? The really bad news is that those two types of challenges make up most of the game. Needless to say, it can get very tedious. Like I said, the only kind of level that provides any kind of adequate challenge is raising money. Since it takes a long time to scrounge up tens of thousands of dollars (sometimes more), good strategy is imperative. You can put incompatible people next to each other for a quick fix, but if you leave them unattended for too long, the results could be disastrous. And since these levels take longer to play, you’ll have more run-ins with Syndicate 5-- often multiple members at a time. There is also an Endless Mode, which is basically a go-on-for-as-long-as-you-can-bear mode. It’s interesting at first, but it quickly grows old.

sshot4-01.jpg (12516 bytes)The graphics and sound are typical puzzle game fare: cute and colorful. They give the game a very whimsical feel, one that I could appreciate after a few too many hours of Silent Hill 2. I do wish, however, that the characters had more animation. You’d figure that with a game this simple they’d go for broke on the little details, but they didn’t.

One Piece Mansion is a very entertaining game. It has all the elements of a successful puzzle game: simple yet hard to master, addictive gameplay, cute graphics, and a funky plot. There just isn’t enough challenge or variety. It’s a great rental, but I’d think twice about purchasing.

David Logan   (11/06/2001)


Ups: Decent puzzle game that isn't Tetris.

Downs: Gets repetitive.

Sony PlayStation