I must honestly say I’ve always known about the One Piece anime but never watched it or played any of the other games. I can now say that I’ve missed out. After playing through Unlimited World Red on the 3DS I’ve started watching the show and I’m now actually a fan. If a video game makes me interested in the story and characters outside of the game that’s pretty good in my books and this latest title from Namco Bandai was the perfect stepping stone into this world.
One Piece Unlimited World Red follows the protagonists from the Straw Hat pirate crew on an adventure led by Luffy, the kid with the elastic rubbery limbs. All the characters are extremely unique and very eccentric. There’s a skeleton with an Afro called Brook who’s the musician of the group and there’s even a shape shifting talking deer. No one in this game, friendly or foe, is normal but that’s what makes this game have its charm and uniqueness.
Unlimited World features two very different game modes, the story mode and the Battle Coliseum mode. The Story is the adventure that is the action role playing game side to the game. There is a town development element to the game where you must collect resources on your outings to build shops, places to eat and other useful outlets for the town hub you come back to. Having such shops allows you to buy items for your missions but from my play through isn’t as vital as you might think. As the base genre of the game is fighting you can more or less complete the game as a fighting game and overlook the town expansion side to this game. It is there however for anyone that wants to further their experience and for the players playing on a console with the trophies system who want that platinum.
Within each mission you’re usually trying to track down something or someone before coming across a boss character that you must defeat. The only thing that mixes up the variety is all the side tasks you can participate in. Whether you’re exploring to collect materials and resources for your town hub, grinding the enemy hordes to level up your characters or participating in the mini games such as fishing, there’s something for everyone making the missions less linear than you would expect. The presentation for the in game cut scenes is quite the spectacle. You can see the team behind the game have tried to keep the epic fights and humour as true to the anime from the episodes that I’ve seen. This is a game about the most eccentric group of pirates with their own unique approach to fighting and morals and each of the playable members come across exactly how they’re portrayed in the show.
The Battle Coliseum mode was my favourite mode to play through which follows a different story arc to the game and show itself. Instead of just being a mode where you can fight all the bosses and enemies it has been structured into an actual developing story itself unlike other game’s similar modes. The Coliseum is about Luffy’s team partnering up with the new playable character Law to fight in a tournament. With more characters to play with including the unlockable bosses you must work your way up through the 3 leagues. The types of fights to choose from are Duel which is one verses one, Scramble which is fighting multiple enemies just like in the story mode, Battle Royal where you battle two strong foes or a strong foe and an enemy horde or the Boss Rush which is 5 boss fights back to back. These eventually come in 3 difficulty settings that unlocks more experience points to progress through the league.
What makes the Battle Coliseum amazing is that there are multiple challenges to complete before you’d even get a full completion rate. You have to unlock characters which aren’t available by meeting requirements such as winning battles with certain characters, performing a number of special attacks or even participating in Special Matches where fixed combatants must face up against each other as rivals all with its own back story.
There’s very little to fault with this game as every small issue I’ve had with it has a solution or understandable excuse. At first I found the camera angle to be tough to get to grips with but there is a Circle Pad Pro option to have that second analogue stick to fix this on the Nintendo 3DS (sold separately). The game wasn’t in 3D at all and it would have been interesting to see some of the sequences like this but the game itself is on multiple formats and is understandable to keep it the exact same. Finally, the game seems to be a game that would be better to play with others and is actually cooperatively for the Wii U if you transfer your save file across. Ideally for me I’d have liked to play this on the move on the 3DS and the on screen hints about playing with others does appear on the format that doesn’t have multiplayer capabilities, but I can half excuse it as you can transfers your save to the Wii U.
All in all I enjoyed my first experience into the One Piece franchise. It’s quirky, fun and offers something for everyone out there with longevity, replayability and the lack of portable cooperative play keeps it from being perfect.