The One Piece series has been around since 1997 aiming more at the Japanese audience with its Manga anime art style and lack of English voice-overs.
It features eccentric enthusiastic characters with unique abilities and out-there storylines with mature nods with some of its female characters being gifted up top. In Japan though, One Piece is a successful franchise and with its success, it has spawned many TV series’, films and video games spanning all formats with its latest title in the franchise, One Piece: Unlimited World RED available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U and 3DS. Developers Ganbarion has built up a new storyline to fit in with the series’ oddball characters and settings whilst maintaining the third person action/RPG gameplay seen in previous Unlimited titles.
Unlimited World RED revolves around the mysterious raccoon Pato whose mission in life is simply to “meet someone”; Pato has a special ability that allows him to bring to life anything he draws on a leaf. After leading protagonist crew, The Straw Hat Pirates consisting of series veterans Monkey D.Luffy, Roronoa Zoro, Sanji and co to the Forgotten Island, everyone but Pato and Luffy are kidnapped by despicable pirate, The Red Count, it’s up to Luffy to retrieve his friends, take down The Red Count and help Pato on his mission. The narrative takes you up and down, sometimes the dialogue can be laugh out loud funny but other times it can be serious and as silly as the initial backdrop sounds, its actually quite fun to follow. Each character has a unique spark which is shown in the games excellently executed cut scenes which are in full cel-shaded 3D, the main issue i had which some may not is the fact that all of the voicing work is in Japanese which, unless you are natively Japanese or are an expert linguist, poses a real problem as you will have to read throughout the whole game. Reading wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t for the cool action packed cut scenes you just have to watch.
This is essentially a third person action/RPG game that plays similarly to the likes of the Kingdom Hearts games. You first control Luffy with his unique grappling hook ability using his stretchy arms allowing you to traverse the game world with ease, however once you have rescued your pals, you can swap control to them at any time depending on your party at the time. Each character has a basic attack, a strong attack, a dodging ability and a jumping ability, the attacks can be linked together to form some nice looking combos. All characters can also perform a super move once a dedicated gauge has been filled up by successfully attacking the enemy. These moves look fantastic and are seriously satisfying to pull off. Each Super move is different for each character, for example, Luffy unleashes a supercharged punch hitting only one enemy whereas Zoro can perform a radius attack harming all those around him, ideal for crowded situations. New moves can be unlocked by collecting coins dropped by enemies; with coins you can also expand your town by building facilities such as a Tavern, Hospital, and Warehouse etc. These new builds assist you on your journey by allowing you to buy medical supplies and upgrades, weapons and other useful things. The highlight of Unlimited World RED is its boss fights, they are spectacular and epic sized at times. Although each has a particular pattern to follow in order to defeat them, they are still challenging. These battles are made easier and more fun with the help of a friend who can play with you as any member of your party.
Unlimited World RED looks bright and colourful from beginning to end making good use of bold colours which is expected from a Manga series. The cel-shading art style brings each character and enemy to life in glorious 3D emotions and reactions displayed with symbols commonly seen in Japanese cartoons. Settings range from beautiful seaside towns, to deserts, snowy mountains and ice caves and seas and each are richly detailed and rich with colour. My main issues with this game is the unbalanced pacing, for example the opening mission of getting your friends back is over far too quickly which made me wonder why it was even included. Also the combat gets tedious quickly and is taken over by button bashing tactics with the super moves acting more like a win button; it’s a relief to be getting back to exploring.
The One Piece saga is gloriously portrayed with Unlimited World RED with vibrant and eccentric characters and a unique original storyline. The game itself however is combat heavy which gets old quick although the super moves are spectacular. A nice action/RPG if you are able to look past these issues and the unbalanced pace.
Story - 3/5
Graphics - 5/5
Gameplay - 3/5
Overall - 3/5
Version reviewed - PlayStation 3