If you are in to anime, then you have probably seen or heard about One Piece. The story is about a boy looking to become king of the pirates, chronicling his adventures and the colorful characters he meets along the way. The manga and anime is pretty long and has a lot of story that has been adapted into the video game realm a few times before. One Piece: Unlimited World Red is a game that doesn’t follow the story of the anime and manga closely, but instead takes the straw-hat crew to new places and adventures. The voyage however, is anything but smooth sailing.
The first thing you will immediately notice when you boot up the game is the over-saturation of bloom effects and bright lightning. The One Piece world has always been vibrant with color, but was never really so bright enough to be distracting. This is the case with Unlimited World Red, as the entire game looks to be in a constant brightening effect. This can be very hard on the eyes and you may want to bring down the brightness at some point to make the experience a little better.
Your control characters that can level up by defeating enemies and completing missions, but there isn’t a lot of deep customization like other titles in the genre. You have a bunch of different characters to choose from that are part of the straw-hat crew, with a few others to gain later on. You get to select different Word Phrases to equip to each character, which have different effects to their stats and abilities, which is mandatory to really strengthen up your party. It can get very confusing very fast when trying to find the best phrases to give to each character as the phrases are at times not clear at what bonuses they give, or which is really better to use.
The visuals are in the same cell-shaded style that you find in a lot of other anime-based video games, and the world to explore is pretty big. Yet size cannot help distract from the lifelessness of the environments you explore in the game. In the main hub area, there are NPCs to talk with and shops to purchase from, but everything around you still feels stagnant as NPCs never really move from where they are always standing.
You can travel around the hub using Luffy’s Gum Gum Rocket, which shoots you atop buildings and across terrain, but lacks the fluidity and control of quick travel found in many other games to feature something similar. Walking is a rather dull and slow alternative, so you almost have to use the Gum Gum Rocket to get around.
Most of the game takes place in different lands that you travel to accomplishing missions. While out in the world, the game looks and feels a bit like the more recent Kingdom Hearts games, both in and out of fights with enemies. Combat itself is held back from being great because of delayed controls on attacks, unfairly strong enemies, and overly dragged out fights.
The lock-on feature you can use does help a bit, but you can’t manually change targets and instead have to bear with the reticle until it changes as you move around.There are sections on each map that force you to fight enemies in an enclosed area, which prevents you from advancing until you defeat all enemies around you. This can be a chore to deal with and brings exploring the levels to a screeching halt because enemies take so long to defeat.
Boss fights are a highlight of the game as they feature different characters you will find in the One Piece anime and manga. The sad part however is that they are ruined by poor programming of their attacks and the drawn out nature of the battles. It’s unfair that some of the bosses have attacks that simply cannot be avoided at all, which completely changes the battle to their favor and makes them unfairly tough. There are checkpoints that are somewhat helpful if you fall in battle against them, but that doesn’t change up the dynamics of the boss battles, nor does it make them fair.
As a package, fans of the anime and manga will find some positive aspects to love about One Piece: Unlimited World Red. Some people will take a liking to the Japanese voice track and appearances of some characters from the show, which gives a good sense of fan service throughout the experience. Yet this all doesn’t save the game from suffering from poorly designed boss fights, lifeless environments, and drawn out battles.
This isn’t the ideal One Piece game that fans are looking for, nor is it the best anime based video game out there. This is one adventure that isn’t as good as it could have been.
This review was based off a digital copy of One Piece: Unlimited World Red for the PlayStation 3 provided by Bandai Namco.