If you’ve never heard about One Piece, here’s the very basics of what you need to know – it’s about pirates, and there are lots of them. The creator of the manga, Eiichiro Oda, is extremely prolific and the series has crossed well over 750 chapters.
The equally popular anime series based on the manga is well above the 650 episode mark too. So, now that you know a little bit of what to expect, let’s look at One Piece Unlimited World Red, the latest game based on the One Piece franchise.
Unlimited World Red is immediately impactful because of the art style and the color palette. Much like other games in its ilk that have been based on Naruto, Bleach or other manga, Unlimited World Red is extremely colorful and over the top. This is all good, since it fits into the spirit of the source material perfectly. The game tries to blend an adventure and exploration based storyline with a lot of fighting, and the fighting is where the meat of the game is. You might find yourself looking at the clock often during the adventuring sections.
The Game Play:
In all fairness, mixing good RPG sections with a lot of good all-out fighting sections is a tough balance to achieve even at the best of times. If you focus too much on the RPG elements, you take away from the core of your series. On the other hand, if you concentrate too much on the fighting, you don’t give players enough context and character development, especially for those that might be new to the series. In addition, a lot of brawlers often boil down to button mashing or spamming one or two moves that work to progress through the game. Unlimited World Red tries to combat this issue by giving players bonuses for mixing up their combat moves. It also features a quest mode that requires you to play with a lot of different characters, thus eliminating any monotony that might set in by players having to use the same hero long after the novelty has worn off. It also incorporates a defensive parrying system, a la the Arkham series of games, that requires you to occasionally block incoming attacks instead of just overwhelming your opponents with brute force. Unfortunately, once you’ve been playing the game for a while, pressing the same button you require to block over and over again starts to feel too simplistic.
The game doesn’t have a multiplayer versus mode, which is a surprising omission from a game of this type, since a lot of fans indulge in animated debates over which of their favorite characters would win in a duel. Instead, the game allows you to have a local co-op mode where you can play through the campaign with your friends. The game also includes a Battle Coliseum mode, which is a series of challenges and boss fights which will test your skills. The storyline also devolves occasionally into a series of minigames that require you to fish or catch, but these are rather clumsily handled. You can unlock a location that allows you to access some more minigames if you wish to play them. The level of difficulty that the game sets before you isn’t too tough, but there are certain stages which will test your mettle.
As mentioned before, the fighting aspect of the game is pretty well handled. But when the game dives into its adventure and RPG sections, its lack of depth is apparent. The developers might have intended to add these sections to the game as a way of mixing up the action and giving players a more complete experience, but they are sadly generic and often confusing. There are also a lot of different elements to the gameplay that the tutorials which pop-up on screen try to explain, but are very difficult to remember. For example, the game has Custom Words, Item Words, Strong Voice and Skill Words, all of which perform very specific and distinct functions. When you are in the heat of battle, recalling all of these functions is a task that only the most dedicated players will be able to accomplish. Most players will finish the campaign without exploring a lot of the mechanics that the game has built into it.
The game also features a lot of collectibles and crafting items that it encourages you to gather, but once you’ve gotten a few of these, it feels like a futile endeavor. This is because all these items only increase specific stats on your character, and never unlock any combat moves or special abilities for any of them. These side quests feel like padding and are often distractions from the main path that you need to take.
Are lovely and capture the feel of the One Piece world admirably. The characters move and fight with gusto and the animations that accompany each of the individual characters are smooth and crisp. The frame rate issues that plagued some of the earlier games in this series are thankfully absent here. Even on the 3DS, the environments look gorgeous and fighting waves of enemies as your favorite pirate is a lot of fun.
In the game is completely Japanese, and for those of you who have been following the dubbed anime for a long time, this will be a huge plus point. For those of you who don’t care much about the Japanese audio, you will have to make do with the English subtitles.
One Piece Unlimited World Red is a fun, if somewhat limited game that has a lot of enjoyable combat. The RPG sections drag the game down in sections, but for fans of the series, this is only a minor annoyance. The ability to play as different characters, the various minigames and challenge sections that you have at your disposal, and the hilarious dialogue and colorful graphics make this game a good way to spend your time.
Game Score: 8.0 Out Of 10
Release Date: 2014
Players: Single-player, Multiplayer
Console: PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, 3DS
Section: Video Game Review