One Piece: Pirates' Carnival

One Piece must be a charmed series. Most anime-based games rely so heavily on their source material to make them interesting that anyone who doesn't, say, fall asleep clutching a life-size Inuyasha pillow will be clawing their eyes out within moments. Not so with last year's fun fighter One Piece Grand Battle, and the same is holding true with Pirates' Carnival. Its screwed up cast and simple minigames should appeal to just about anyone who can stand the idea of sitting down in front of a digital game board and mashing buttons.

Maybe the best thing about One Piece: Pirates' Carnival is the fact that itrefuses the so-elaborate-they're-tedious game board designsthat the Mario Party series usesin favor of something much simpler - and faster. The basic board is a grid of squares; you can pick any unoccupied one to start up a minigame. The winner takes the square. The twist is that the game plays like the old board game Othello. In other words, if you already hold a square in the far left column, and you capture the square in the same row, but in the far right column, all of the squares in between the two change to your color as well. Of course, it's not quite so simple - because random squares hide events that screw with the natural order, and give and take money from each player. Cold, hard lucre, not squares, is what it takes to win.