One Piece is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, pillars in Anime. It has a huge fanbase and one that’s endured over the decades as the popular series continues to air, until Luffy eventually becomes the pirate king and finds One Piece. However, although the anime is enjoyed by many and is considered one of the greats, it’s translation to video games has been nothing but swings and misses. One Piece Unlimited World Red is a step in the right direction, however, it still doesn’t quite hit the mark in delivering a great game.
Platform Reviewed: PS4
Platforms Available: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Release Date: August 24, 2017
This review is based on a review copy provided by Bandai Namco.
One Piece Unlimited World Red takes place outside the canon story, but has you going through major events throughout the series. These are done via missions where you explore an island and each mission helps with upgrades and materials to progress the development of the town that the Straw Hat crew has arrived upon. The mission layout is pretty basic, with it being mainly brawl out sessions until you reach a boss. It’s a mixture of exploration and musou-type gameplay, with very little difficulty. Luckily to spice up the monotonous nature of the game, you can switch out characters. The selection is mainly among the Straw Hats, and each character falls under a certain character type such as healer, tank, and so forth. However, even though you are able to switch between characters, it only delays the inevitable feeling of monotony and fatigue as most of the missions have very little variety.
Where I can see more fun to be had in the single player, is spending time upgrading the town, known as Trans Town, which is the main hub in the game. The town is filled with side quests to complete and workable goals to attain, such as upgrading the local Inn or helping to build shops. The checklist of requirements help give more weight when completing the story missions and add a foreseeable goal as you plow through hordes of mindless enemies. It also helps to encourage the player to explore more and find items that are needed back in the town. Although this is a redeemable aspect of the One Piece Unlimited World Red’s main story campaign, over all it still lands as a shallow experience and one that will ultimately disappoint, despite all the fan-service.
The second mode in the game, and one that shows off the combat a lot better, is the Battle Coliseum Mode. Battle Coliseum has you mainly defeating a certain amount of grunt enemies or fighting staple antagonists/protagonists in the One Piece universe. The former is a great free-for-all mode, where you can just let loose and test out different character abilities. I won’t lie that performing various moves done by the characters in the anime was actually cool to see and brought out the inner Kaizoku in me. The real skill test, is when fighting the main antagonist/protagonist characters, which One Piece has a lot of. The fights definitely bring back the memories of seeing Luffy getting stronger and breaking through his power ceiling in order to take down his opponent. However, the actual finesse and technicality of the combat is left to be desired.
For all the fan-service and accuracy it gets right, the feel and technicality of the combat could’ve been done better. It feels to be ripped straight out of the past musou One Piece titles, where you’re basically just mashing out attacks with little to no skill actually required. It’s a shame since it’s counterpart in the Naruto titles have a similarly simplistic combat system, yet is executed a lot better there. The combat systems there feel a lot tighter and not as clumsy, unlike in One Piece Unlimited Red.
Another side of the game that feels to have fallen short is its visuals. Despite One Piece Unlimited World Red being a title originally developed for last generation consoles, it mostly looks like a PlayStation 2 title upscaled to HD resolutions. The game is filled with flat textures and inconsistent environments that could’ve benefited from a more cel-shaded and consistent visual style, such as Wind Waker or the Naruto games. On the other hand, character models do look great and have a noticeably higher polygon count compared to other objects, with main playable characters having even more compared to grunt characters. I feel that, if the game had a bit more of a budget, the visuals could have emulated the feeling of you the playing the anime, rather than just playing a PS2 game with One Piece characters.
Overall, One Piece Unlimited World Red is a game that on a surface level is great because of the fan-service it provides, however, falls flat once you sink your teeth into it. You’ll be taken back to numerous events throughout the One Piece series and the game definitely hooks you in for the nostalgia. From Luffy kicking Captain Wapol’s ass to saving Robin from the Marine government, the game definitely delivers on reliving classic stories. Sadly the fan-service isn’t enough to make the game great, and I’d advise to stick to the Manga or Anime to get your fill of seeing the Straw Hat crew find the ever elusive One Piece.