Game Review

One Piece Unlimited World Red Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Robert Hughes

Not unlimited, but not bad

Eiichiro Oda’s anime juggernaut isn't short of games on multiple systems, and quality can be distinctly variable; the unimpressive One Piece: Romance Dawn on 3DS, with its repetitive gameplay and questionable production values, is one at the wrong end of the chain. In that sense it's tough to know what to expect from the series, though Unlimited World Red on Wii U does help to restore a little faith.

When Luffy and the gang return transforming tanuki Pato to Trans Town, the elastic explorer darts off to explore this exciting new area. However, after a brief battle with neighbourhood thugs, Luffy is informed his comrades have been abducted, and sets out to recover each of his allies from their mysterious captor. It's a wafer-thin plot set to justify exploring the island, but it works — for a lighthearted game such as Unlimited World Red, players don't need endless exposition to set up the adventure, and the this one knows to kick off the adventure as quickly as possible.

Traversing the town itself holds some novelty and is entertaining enough for the first few hours of playtime — prompts to press the X button appear atop rooftop ledges and lamps, and doing so causes Luffy to extend his rubbery limbs to catapult across the area. It’s a visual spectacle that easily impresses, with a practical purpose that makes it an entertaining way to cross the map. That said, Luffy can only lock onto predetermined points and vaults past them clumsily, making landing on small surfaces tricky and unwieldy. This can be rectified by inflating Luffy’s body into the shape of a balloon by holding the A button, allowing him to slowly drift down towards the ground.

The meat of the game takes place in isolated stages – here Luffy (and, eventually, his colourful cast of cohorts) sprint around fairly enclosed areas, battling enemy groups in what often culminates with a boss battle. Combat is simple and intuitive, allowing most of the game to be played by simply mashing the Y and X buttons until every opponent has been defeated. That said, there are some deceptively deep combat mechanics available to those that wish to explore them — combos are listed in the game’s menu screens, and using the optimum move at each juncture is key to clearing out enemy hordes with finesse.

Luffy can also explore each area with two companions in tow, control of which can be taken by a quick tap of the select button; the AI controls these teammates and does an admiral job of assisting in battle, to the point where many times the computer characters can be relied upon to fend for themselves. Once a gauge labelled SP is filled, teams can perform collaborative attacks that deal huge damage to every enemy present, and doing so can often turn the tide of battle.

Utilising each of the character’s unique moves and special attacks is initially a joy – the stylistic approach to graphics make each attack feel dynamic and energetic, and watching the game be played is entertaining as a result. Once this novelty has been exhausted, though, each battle starts to become an uphill slog to the end of the stage. The issue with these encounters is not that they aren’t enjoyable or are poorly designed, but that they’re far too easy and lacking in impact — the appearance of a squad of enemies soon becomes a chore, as Luffy and his associates make quick work of any would-be attackers, opponents constantly being tossed to and fro like a sack of pirate potatoes. Enemy attacks can be countered by pressing A at the correct prompt, normally mitigating all damage, which makes most assaults easy to avoid and often pointless. The only time enemies will reliably get a hit on the player is when fulfilling one of these prompts causes Luffy to dash into another (unavoidable) attack. It’s a cheap way of the game evening the odds, and it’s frustrating to be punished for correctly meeting a command prompt.

The boss battles, however, are an entirely different story. These large scale clashes are challenging and interesting, many having multiple stages and weaknesses to exploit. Each boss has multiple health bars and often attack with great force — the stakes are much higher in these encounters, and as a result they are much more memorable. These boss battles often serve as the incentive to continue with the fairly linear, repetitive levels, and they function well as a reward to make the more tedious segments of the game worthwhile.

The controls in One Piece are fairly intuitive, and as mentioned before there is a combo list, but most players will find the best method is simply to mash buttons until they find a move-set that works for them. The move-sets are fairly varied and particularly diverse between characters, which helps to keep combat fresh for players who choose to delve into the deeper recesses of these battle mechanics. One particular issue, however, is that two attacks seemed to be mapped to Luffy’s X button — one long range attack, suitable for striking hazardous objects from a distance, and one dashing attack that is the precise opposite. Experimentation seemed to point to these attacks being selected at random; this is not helpful when Luffy opted to dash face-first into a cactus for the umpteenth time. Beyond this minor complaint, though, the combat system is simple and satisfying, allowing even novice players to pummel enemies with aplomb.

Graphically, One Piece is superb – it’s a stylised cel-shaded look we’ve seen before with Bandai Namco’s other anime titles, and it’s been polished to a shine with Unlimited World Red. Each main character is beautifully animated, their bombastic personalities bursting out of this vibrant, detailed world. It’s clear a lot of work has been put into making the game look as close to an interactive anime as possible, and the result is a stunning visual display that adds some much needed spectacle to proceedings.

The game features a Japanese vocal track with English subtitles (likely to serve the purist anime fans who usually prefer subs to dubs) and it fits well with the game’s off-beat humour. The music on offer serves its purpose but never seems to excel beyond non-obtrusive; it’s adequate but entirely forgettable, lacking the punch the visuals deliver.

Conclusion

Some may be a little disappointed that Unlimited World Red makes little effort to explain the setting or the characters to the uninitiated, but perhaps that’s besides the point – the target audience for this game is already familiar with the series’ lore, and it’s those that will take the most from this game. That’s not to say players who are not versed in the anime or manga will be unable to enjoy the game; on the contrary, there’s an energetic, lighthearted brawler to be enjoyed here, and despite some control issues and repetitive segments it’s a decent romp through Eiichiro Oda’s world. For fans of the series though, it’s not a difficult recommendation — the game is passable on it’s own merit, but filled with many nods to established characters and events that One Piece enthusiasts will love. Overall, this title goes some way to take the series away from some of the mis-steps in its past.

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User Comments (44)

midnafanboy

#1

midnafanboy said:

I played this is game is great i love it, not for me too buy it though.Now to wait for the letter review im guessing the score for that is going to like a 5 out of ten.

BakaKnight

#3

BakaKnight said:

I waited so long this review for decide if get this game, but now I'm fighted as before XD

Anyway great review, but I have a question... are combos all avaiable from the begin or they need to be unlocked? And in the latter case how does it work?

Unlimited Cruise was kinda fun, but blocked all the moves behind a system that get very pretentious as characters grew and made the game more boring intentionally. Totally gonna avoid this game if that mechanic is a mark of the unlimited serie >.>;

Gerbwmu

#4

Gerbwmu said:

I was thinking of getting this but if it is just a button masher maybe I will wait for Hyrule Warriors.

@midnafanboy do you think the review of The Letter will be above 3?

thelastgogeta

#7

thelastgogeta said:

I'm sure it is clear that Holding X with Luffy leads to him doing that opposite attack but maybe the game didn't explain it as it gives you all of the attacks at once.

@BakaKnight

This game is considerably more linear to the point you don't even unlock combos and have less attacks though everything flows in a more traditional sort of way.

I think it is the worst Unlimited game yet, but given what you are asking for maybe it will be your favourite.

Samuel-Flutter

#8

Samuel-Flutter said:

Is NintendoLife doing a review on the 3DS version as well? I'm kinda stuck deciding which one to grab.

BakaKnight

#9

BakaKnight said:

@thelastgogeta Thanks for the info.

Definitely now I'm more willing to give this game a chance, even if maybe they passed from a too pretentious system to a too straight one XD

PinkSpider

#10

PinkSpider said:

Will buy this as the other wii games are really rare now, plus from those screen shots it looks gorgeous

koelboel

#11

koelboel said:

Got it upon release, it's not without its flaws, but I'm having great fun with it nonetheless.
Recommending it.

Shotgunryugan

#12

Shotgunryugan said:

"One particular issue, however, is that two attacks seemed to be mapped to Luffy’s X button — one long range attack, suitable for striking hazardous objects from a distance, and one dashing attack that is the precise opposite. Experimentation seemed to point to these attacks being selected at random"

Um..what? The dashing attack is simply made by holding the X button, while the long range attack is by simply pressing the X button. It's not that hard >_>

Aside from that this review hit everything spot on.

It's a fun game, been greatly enjoying it. I have the 3DS version(Though all versions are pretty much the same, aside from multiplayer).

If you are a One Piece fan I definitely recommend it!

ricklongo

#13

ricklongo said:

I have only passing knowledge of One Piece; I read a couple issues of the manga eight years ago or so. It's always seemed quite the entertaining series to me, though, which is why I've been expecting this review. It's a pity this isn't a more open-ended adventure with Wind Waker-like sea exploration, but it definitely sounds like something I could enjoy.

Deviant_Mugen

#14

Deviant_Mugen said:

I'm not as big a One Piece fan as I used to be (though I still follow the series), but judging from the Game Informer preview and this review, this seems like a game that I'd have fun playing. Too bad it's Wii U download-only and the DL itself is 15 gigs in size...

CanisWolfred

#15

CanisWolfred said:

Makes me glad I pre-ordered the Vita version (even though I have to wait 3 more days before I can pick that up)

WindWakerLink

#16

WindWakerLink said:

The digital only nonsense for Wii U and that 15GB size forced me to get it for PS3 which is a shame because I REALLY WANTED THIS ON the Wii U! I can't get Mii verse for this game on PS3! XD

The whole vocal thing...That just seems lazy to me especially since Naruto Shippuden Ninja Storm 2 gives you the option to switch the vocals & subtitles from Japanese to English. It's lazy in my eyes because Namco made both games! @_@ It's hard to read and enjoy scenery when everything is happening so fast...the uncontrollable cut scenes I mean.

Ignoring those issues, this game is REALLY FUN! If you're a One Piece fan and have 15.2 GB to share, you should totally get this game!! It makes for a perfect summer time game....kinda like Sonic Adventure for Dreamcast.

thelastgogeta

#17

thelastgogeta said:

@BakaKnight
Yeah, it may be more of your jam even with the faults and unnecessary changes. If you pay $30 for it on the 3DS, you don't have much to lose as well.

@Samuel-Flutter
The 3DS is the lead platform, don't hesitate to get it for the platform that has a good user interface though I'll admit that the Wii U has drop in, drop out multiplayer in almost all modes even if the second player loses as much health as Tails from Sonic 2 because they didn't make an effort when porting the thing.

TwilightV

#20

TwilightV said:

I got the 3DS version, but I may also try to pick up the Wii U version.

I actually welcome the Japanese only audio for personal reasons (not the reason mentioned in the review).

kdognumba1

#23

kdognumba1 said:

I can't wait to get this game! I'll have to wait until next month unfortunately though :(

FalconPunch

#26

FalconPunch said:

What's with all the women in in freaking bikinis in this game? I guess that was influential in the.. Romance Dawn. YEEEAHH... (Dun dun...dun..)

NodesforNoids

#28

NodesforNoids said:

5 points to make:
1) It's a port from Japan, complete with recent storylines that haven't been dubbed, licensed or even casted yet. (hence the games subtitles)
2) At 650 plus episodes and 700 plus chapters, redoing events covered in earlier games would be a bit of a waste. (hence the lack of background provided)
3) Features events and storylines that detail and intimate on spoilers to those who refuse to watch subtitled anime. (so detailing the lack of dub is essential for Bandai Namco)
4) Is an anime game. So expectations shouldn't be set too high.
5) Won't be for alot of people. Is an anime game.
Myself? 70 DVDs (collections have 4 each) , have watched every dubbed episode. Have viewed the first 580 subbed episodes. Have read the manga to it's current chapter. Don't own the manga, waiting for the series to finish to start.
Owned games on the GC, Wii, PS2 and PS3.
Got my partner and our son to start watching.
She's excited to try the game and he loves the bright colors and crazy characters.
So there might be 'core' gamers on here that bash Zelda U, lament the 200+ games available on Wii U, only watch 'guy movies', think animes for nerds, could be racist / homophobic / sexist and still judge anything Japanese for being exploitative. And those people can form rational opinions or bash senselessly and irrationally and that's just fine.
But be decent and don't bash someone else for having one of their own.

NodesforNoids

#29

NodesforNoids said:

The review seems fair but I question the familiarity Mr. Hughes has with the actual series. Watch any episode and you'll plainly see hordes of pathetically easy to beat marines / pirates tossed around by Luffy and crew. It seems that with every new location, there are those generic, nameless sorts that are vastly impressed and quickly, effortlessly decimated.
Why? They got in the Strawhat pirates' way.
Zoro, in a rather telling moment, beats the tar out of dozens of pirates, slicing their ship in half and casually remarking how he was on the wrong boat.
In a series that features super powered pirates vs normal people, how close is the fight really going to be?

Commie

#31

Commie said:

Why would anybody prefer dubs? Not just anime, but everything. In general dubs don't do the original justice (of course, there are always a few exceptions from the rule)

SamSan37

#35

SamSan37 said:

One Piece the best! I will buy this for my 3ds and Wii U (when i get one). The cell shading is beautiful. I love One Piece!

spearhead31

#36

spearhead31 said:

I liked unlimited adventure for Wii better. It was more open world and there was a lot more exploration. This is way too linear and one of the coolest parts of the game is Luffy flinging himself from rooftop to rooftop, but only in town. During the missions he's grounded, like the rest. Also I' m a dub over sub person, because To me I'd rather be able to watch what's going than reading and listening to the annoying noise of their voices. Please don't tell me about real fans, because you could always take it a step further and say, "if you were a real fan you'd learn the language.

Shotgunryugan

#38

Shotgunryugan said:

@spearhead31 I've seen plenty of animes subbed and can read & watch at the same time, don't really see a problem there.

As for the voices there are some animes that are definitely worse than others in that regard, I personally can't stand Goku & Gohan's Japanese voices.

thelastgogeta

#39

thelastgogeta said:

@Cobra This game was developed by Ganbarion, who developed tons of previous One Piece games (Unlimited series, Grand Battle series, Gigant Battle series, Jump Superstars + Ultimate Stars too) as well as Pandora's Tower.

The lack of a dub is tied ultimately to what Bandai Namco feel like doing, given that most of the fans are followers of the Japanese voice cast and it is cheaper not to focus on getting both. They made this call for every One Piece game since Unlimited Adventure in 2008.

theBluntKnight

#40

theBluntKnight said:

I'm a big one piece fan but I'm still tossing up whether I should get this game when I have a backlog of games still. Well it seems to be selling well atm so it doesn't seem to need my support so maybe I'll wait a while when more copies are avalilable.

ultraraichu

#41

ultraraichu said:

An ok review but it's missing a few key points (like the arena mode), mainly the Wii U features.
1) The Wii U GamePad screen is only used for off-screen play. Which means that you wouldn't get touch controls on your inventory or a map like the 3ds version.
2) There is a feature that you can data link with the 3ds to copy your save file over to have it on both systems.
3) The game have local multiplayer with 2 people in which you can play the story stages as well (3ds have 4p local but can only play missions). But it's picture & picture splitscreen only on the TV, so no GamePad/ TV personal screen. Also player 2 is invincible so that too.

I guess this can be put in a comparison article after the 3ds review of the game to help people decide.

Manaphy2007

#43

Manaphy2007 said:

reviews do not make me decide if i want to buy a game, demos do. unless its notoriously horrible then i will stay away.

Remisio

#44

Remisio said:

I must say I'm not really a huge fan of One Piece... But as an art student I've been contemplating buying this game solely because the artstyle seems gorgeous to me.

I'd love to see more games like this and Zelda WiiU with beautiful art styles come to the wiiu.

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