Having reviewed another One Piece game for Twinfinite, I was very skeptical to take on this one. I tried to escape Luffy’s stretchy arm, but like the vengeful a-hole that Fate is… He found me once more. Now, in 2014, I had before me One Piece: Unlimited World Red. My first thought? “What a stupid title. I’m already sure I’m going to hate this.” But oh, my friends, this turned quickly into a classic tale of the bitch that judged too quickly.
You see, the Dynasty Warriors styled gameplay didn’t make its return in Bandai Namco’s latest in the One Piece cash train. Instead, we’re left with an adventure game that I can best describe by comparing it to the Naruto Shippuden series. You have a central village to keep coming back to (and improving, which is my favorite part) and continue the story by traveling outside to other lands that make up new chapters in the story. You fight your way through the linear land, you beat the boss, you finished the level along with that chapter. Congratulations. It’s a very simple game and the difficulty won’t keep hardcore players entertained.
In fact, the gamers that would most benefit from One Piece: Unlimited World Red are the fans of the show. It’s an obvious statement but I’ll say it anyway (because it’s true): If you love One Piece, this will be your new BFF– in video game form. Playing through, I kept thinking, “If Dragon Ball Z had a game in this same style, I would be so happy.” In spite of its mistakes, the idea of seeing some of my favorite characters come to life would be amazing. I imagine this is the same effect for fans of One Piece, as well; especially when it’s not a bad game by any means.
Speaking of mistakes though, when there’s a dodge command in a game, you’d imagine it would be fluid, right? Like Arkham, like Sleeping Dogs, you just press a button in the middle of a punch and you’re protected. In One Piece: Unlimited World Red? You have to apparently be doing nothing to hit that command. So many times I would be in the middle of attacking when a dodge command came up as the enemy was about to attack. So many times I’d try, and the game would just slap me right in the face. As a result, I had difficulty not getting bored by the button mashing. Besides the dodge command, nailing combos is hard in the same matter. Because of this, I would often just stick to the same combo moves, which is perfectly fine in a game like Dynasty Warriors where there’s instant satisfaction in defeating a boatload of enemies. It’s just a hassle in a game that doesn’t have that many enemies on the field. Battles are choppier in this game than they should feel, considering you’re playing as a bunch of trained and experienced anime pirates.
Outside of combat, there are fun fishing and bug catching mini games. These consist of QTEs that will lead to you snagging some supplies. “What are supplies for?” I hear you ask. I’ll tell you, relax, one second, jeez. Supplies are taken back to the central island where you’ll use them to expand buildings. Special quests assigned from the town help with your acquisition of supplies, too, and you’re able to find materials within the normal levels by smacking stuff around.
Besides the story mode, players can test their combat skills within the Battle Colosseum mode. Here, you’ll fight your way through the ranks. That’s about it. Unlock new items and characters to use by completing special conditions with battles between 50 enemies or just dueling bosses. That’s really it for this mode, though, and I found more fun awaiting in the story mode. Even if I had no idea what the hell was going on with this crazy anime.
[+Characters are wacky, come alive with the story] [+Collecting materials gives the reward of seeing your town hub grow] [+Beautiful art direction and level designs] [-Inorganic combat between trained pirates] [-Story kind of excludes anyone unfamiliar with One Piece]