One Piece has been going for over 15 years now, and yet has never managed to find a video game genre that fit it. The series would often borrow from other franchises for its video game adaptations (see One Piece Pirate Warriors 2) but would never dare to be original. One Piece Unlimited World Red takes a bold step for the franchise by being the first original title to grace a home system, and it does so wonderfully.
One Piece Unlimited World Red (now going to be shortened to OPR for my own sanity) takes place on a strange island where a man only known as Redfield is attempting to find a devil fruit in order to take over the pirate world. The Straw Hats arrive on the island to stop try and Redfield, but keep finding themselves reliving their past as old foes attempt to get their revenge.
Not exactly the most riveting story out there, but it’s really just there as a excuse to have the characters relive some of the more epic battles in the series.
Being an action adventure game, OPR lets players explore small fields based on previous locations in the series. You pick three Straw Hat’s to take into these fields that will fight beside each other against large amounts of enemies, help explore the area, heal you, watch as you catch fish and just generally be entertaining crew members.Walking around these areas never feels dull thanks partly to the character interaction, but it’s mostly entertaining due to the wonderful world design.
The game starts with a showdown at Punk Hazard before going all the way back to Alabasta and retelling the story from there, with each area having the characters reenact moments from that particular arc. These areas are lovingly crafted and well detailed with locations from the series, with Enies Lobby and Marineford being a personal stand out locations of sheer beauty. If you’ve always wanted to explore the world of One Piece properly, this game finally lets you do just that.
Combat in OPR is simplistic compared to other action adventure games. There is a weak attack, strong attack, and a certain amount of super moves depending on the character. The moves a character starts with are all the moves the character will ever have, there are no unlockable combos.
This makes the combat start to get dull after you mow down hundreds of enemies, and the games real only way of relegating this problem is by letting you change character whenever you want mid battle. It would have been nice to unlock some Haki moves for Luffy, but all you get are two super moves that involve the use of Haki. It feels like characters abilities were going to be implemented more but just never made it into the game, this is made more obvious when boss characters are able to use super moves that you can’t use when playing as them.
On the topic of boss battles, they are the highlight to the game. Each boss
encounter involves squaring off with a famous antagonist in their respective area. Every one of these boss fights is intense and highly engaging to the point I didn’t want some of them to end. Fighting Crocodile in Alabasta and watching him divide the area in half using his sand sword made me smile with glee, and beating down Akainu was one of the most satisfying things I’ve done all year. If you’re a fan of the franchise, then these boss fights will have you gleaming from ear to ear.
For those who are looking to fight and not have to explore, the game also comes with a coliseum mode based around the shows current arc featuring Doflamingo. In this mode players choose from a wide selection of events that range from fighting 100 weak men to a boss rush mode.
These modes are fun distractions but quickly become repetitive as some of the requirements to unlock characters or items task you with replaying the same game type again and again. It also doesn’t help that the game pulls a “fudge you” and resets your coliseum rank when you’re near the end. Not cool.
The main attraction to the coliseum is that it unlocks boss characters that can be played with in either the coliseum or in certain quests in the story, and while they don’t level up like the main characters do, it’s still a lot of fun running around destroying armies as some of the franchises most powerful pirates.
Probably the most lackluster part of this joyous game is the city building. When not on missions the player can freely explore a port town where they are tasked with repairing shops so they can be used to buy items ore upgrade the fishing rod and bug net. This involves going back out into the field to find ingredients to open build these shops, however the game doesn’t tell you where you could find these ingredients and just ends up being a bland distraction from the rather short main story. While the items gained from these shops aren’t required to finish the game, having healing items makes the whole experience a lot less frustrating.
One Piece Unlimited World Red is a huge love letter to fans of the franchise. If you’ve never heard of One Piece or are only just getting into it, you may not find that much to love. But if you’re a fan who’s looking for a game that treats One Piece with the respect it deserves, then Unlimited World Red is a fantastic game that will please you to no end.
One Piece Unlimited World Red is out now on PS3,Wii U, PS Vita and 3DS
Thanks to Namco Bandi for sending a review code