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One Piece Unlimited World Red

Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: Ganbarion
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: RPG/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

One Piece Unlimited World Red is bright, colorful and very blue. Blue skies and blue oceans are everywhere. Colorful island houses line the streets and people dressed to match stroll along. Even at its most dramatic points, itís bright and filled with color. All of the main characters look exactly like their anime counterparts, and the cel-shaded style compliments it quite well.

What you might not like about the art style is the apparent inability of Luffy, the main character and aspiring pirate of the series, to rest his eyes or mouth into any kind of relaxed state. The art style certainly stands out, but Iím not sure I can ever get over a guy whose resting face is like the rehabilitation scene from A Clockwork Orange. Sorry, but not sorry, as soon as I had enough characters to swap him out of my party, I did.

Everything sounds like its anime counterpart as well. There are frequent cutscenes where characters do a lot of talking, and the voice acting is quite expressive and entertaining. Though itís also true to the series, the music is pretty repetitive, especially when youíre trying to complete quest after quest with repetitive tasks. Itís upbeat, and happy, but itís very much like elevator music after a while. It almost put me to sleep more than once.


Gameplay:

One Piece Unlimited World Red starts off with the disappearance of Luffyís friends. Even to those unfamiliar with the anime, Luffyís pretty easy to recognize as the kid with the straw hat. As you progress through the game, you track down the people responsible for your friendsí disappearance. And as you find your friends, you find there are even more threats, and even deception within your group. In the rather charming manner of the series, even betrayal seems kind of funny. It does help that the betrayal is committed by a cute raccoon named Pato. Though you donít have to be familiar with the series to play this game, it does help, as Luffy and his friends encounter a lot of old friends and foes throughout the game. For example, when someone declares that they want to take revenge on you, well, you usually want to know what you did to earn vengeance in the first place.

I will admit I am not a fan of the anime One Piece, but I can pick up on some of its appeal. The characters are each wildly different in style. One is a gigantic man/machine hybrid named Franky. Chopper is a shapeshifting, uh, moose? Brook is a straight up fabulous skeleton. Nami is a minimally clothed woman who has power over the weather. And then you have the stretchy-limbed Luffy who really likes straw hats. Still, though they may look different, they each seem to embody some sort of anime trope. That may be a draw as well. Characters like these can start to feel like old friends. They can start to feel predictable, and therefore comfortable.

One Piece: UWR is your pretty standard RPG, though it does have some unconventional names for skills at least. You can build up your characters by equipping them with Strong Words to increase their stats and help out with certain difficult enemies. Youíll also get things called Lost Words, which really didnít need such a similar label. Lost Words are basically keys to unlock areas, so essentially they could really just be called keys. And you could call Strong Words by their 3 different labels: item, skill and custom. Thatíd cut down on 90% of the confusion early in the game, but eh, who am I to say what you do with your game. If Final Fantasy can get away with the same thing, I suppose every RPG has an excuse to make their interface as obscure as possible.

Each character has special skills and attacks that come in handy in certain fights. They also come in handy for breaking up the monotony. Nico, for example, attacks with weird hand-based attacks. Seriously, she just sends a bunch of hands through the ground at the enemies. Chopper is also a crazy character to use. He takes several bizarre shapes, at one point simply becoming a giant puffball. Then thereís Sanji, who seems to be the martial artist and cook of the crew. He actually has the ability to cook during a fight, which is hilarious.

Thereís a bit of a building element to the game as well. You can expand the island town with different buildings like a pharmacy, factory, and a restaurant. Building these extra buildings will open up access to lots of different things including new weapons, better restorative items, and additional fun side items. You can also expand into new land, opening up new quests. Expanding and building them requires special items, however, so youíll have to do a lot of additional side quests to get the town up to its full potential.

For a pure battle challenge, you can try your hand at the Battle Coliseum as well. This feels like sort of a long side quest, as you battle your way up to fight the ridiculously dressed and named Donquixote Doflamingo.

Some additional features include the option to transfer save data from your 3DS to your Wii U game. Thereís also split-screen co-op that allows a second player to take control of another character. You can also enlist help with some of the gameís mini-games like bug-catching and fishing. Itís unusual to have this kind of co-op available for an RPG, and a nice feature to bring in a friend. Apparently you can bring in up to 4, but I don't have enough controllers to test this, alas. Thereís a lot of downloadable content as well such as standalone quests and special quests for materials if youíre having trouble building that last shop or factory. You can, uh, buy swimsuits for the female characters as well - I mean, if you thought they were wearing too much already. You can buy a swimsuit for Chopper, the shapeshifting, moose-whatever-guy too. If youíre into that, that is.


Difficulty:

Itís one thing if a game is difficult and rewarding, itís entirely another if itís difficult through obscurity with little reward. I've said it before, but if a game is downloadable and the manual isn't absolutely top notch, it makes me think we're not quite ready to ditch this whole boxed game thing.

Letís take quest one for example. Youíre given a quest to catch rats. Youíre given all the tools you need, and technically youíre given tutorials on what you need to do. The problem is that the tutorials are incomplete. You need to obtain Tempest Rats. Well, youíre not explicitly told you need a net to complete the quest unless you leave to do the quest without a net. Itís entirely possible that you could try the right things and easily get through the quest, but the absence of helpful tutorials makes many things about this game frustrating.

Other than that, the game is not particularly difficult. You can get through fights quicker if you pick up on some combos and utilize the combat system well. But you can pretty much survive forever as long as you use the (A) button to dodge or defend. Youíre not penalized for mashing it, so you can fall back on it as a failsafe during difficult fights.

Heck, I couldn't even find anything that explained getting the co-op to work. I finally had to just tell my husband to start pressing things on the second controller until the split screen came up.


Game Mechanics:

One Piece Unlimited World Red is a 3D action RPG, and has some minor platforming elements here and there as well. The controls get the job done, but itís not particularly amazing in this area. There are plenty of invisible walls, and youíll find out just how small the world is when you try to step out in the water. To further the point, some places allow you to walk off the edge, some places arbitrarily stop you from walking off the edge. Legend of Zelda, it is definitely not. Itís not a bad experience, but itís not an amazing experience in the genre either.

The camera controls are needlessly tedious. Babysitting the camera should never be one of the more difficult things in a game, but in this game it feels like adding insult to injury. A camera that automatically reverts back to a neutral position would have worked just fine for this game. Thereís little need to look straight up and down since this isnít a first person shooter.

As a side note, some things could be streamlined in the game, but they donít get in the way of playing too much. First of all, the Tavern and the Inn really donít need to be separated. You get quests from the Tavern and you build your town and stock items at the Inn. The real rub is, the same person runs both places, but the game makes you needlessly run between the both of them to get simple things done. Also, quests could really use a counter of some kind to let you know how close you are to completion. If youíre searching for 10 fruits, itís nice to know how many you have left to go as you move on.

That being said, nothing is particularly terrible about this game. Itís a good experience for a fan who just wants one more story in the One Piece world. For an outsider to the series, you could get caught up in the pure RPG elements of it, and get addicted to building out the village. The characters are pretty amusing too, even if youíre not already familiar with them. One Piece Unlimited World Red speaks of a grander scale, but is perfectly content to stay within some humble RPG confines.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Related Links:



Sony PlayStation Vita One Piece Unlimited World Red Windows So Many Me

 
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