Although I eventually gave up on the One Piece anime, I have tried to keep up with the videogames based on the series. You see, I am actually a fan… even though I could never make it through the Manga or the Anime. I love the world, the characters, the goofy dialogue and over the top set pieces. I love how inherently Japanese the whole premise is. A rubber boy who wants to become the pirate king and his rag tag crew of incompetent pirates sailing around a bizarre world facing all manner of weird and wonderful villains. What’s not to love?
Recently, I played One Piece Romance Dawn on the 3DS and Pirate Warriors 2 on the PS3. The games could not have felt any more different from one another. Romance Dawn was an under-developed (but still enjoyable) turn based JRPG, whilst Pirate Warriors was a “Dynasty Warrriors” style brawler. Now, there’s a new game in the series to throw its weight around and it’s doing so by having the longest title! One Piece Unlimited World Red is available on PS3, PS Vita, Wii-U and 3DS. It manages to fuse the styles found in both of the previously mentioned One Piece games.
In One Piece Unlimited World Red, players start the game quite late into Luffy (the pirate king) and co’s adventures. This means folks who aren’t well versed in the lore of the show might feel a bit alienated. Then again, a game like this is surely one for the fans and they will feel right at the home with the beautifully rendered cutscenes, classic Japanese dialogue and action-rpg elements.
The main campaign in the game is a free-form action RPG, where players travel through a variety of locales fighting enemies, collecting chests and items and returning to towns to rest, save and gain additional quests. In this way it is like (a far superior version of) Romance Dawn, but the combat is real time, not turn-based, making it fall more in line with the combat found in the Pirate Warriors titles. It’s a satisfying mesh of genres and although the level designs are fairly linear, there are a range of areas to explore and enemies to vanquish in your journey.
There is more on offer in this title than just the campaign mode. There is also the Coliseum mode, which is based on one of the more recent manga arcs concerning a deadly arena and a mysterious villain named Donquixote Doflamingo. Playing out less like an RPG and more like a straight up brawler, the Coliseum is a great change of pace and deviation from the sometimes narrative laden campaign.
Also, Unlimited World Red allows for 2 player co-op, meaning players can team up as variety of popular One Piece characters to tackle nefarious bosses, hordes of foes or even crewmates. The PS Vita version of the game supports 4 player co-op. I can’t really speak about that as the version I played was on the Wii-U. Note: the game does nothing interesting with the gamepad, which is a bit disappointing. Fans of the series will be delighted to know that Trafalgar Law is now playable for the first time ever in a One Piece videogame, but only in the Coliseum mode.
There is a lot to love in One Piece Unlimited World Red, but most of it will be lost on those who are not already fans of the series and it’s expanded lore. Namco Bandai have truly delivered one of the best One Piece titles to date in Unlimited World Red, not only in terms of the amount of the content on offer, but also in the quality of said content. If you’re a fan of this mangaanime, you are doing yourself and the games creators a disservice by not picking it up. Gum Gum AWESOME!