I’ll be honest, I had only a vague knowledge of One Piece when I started exploring this game and the anime’s history, but a cursory look into this expansive series and the diverse world left me quickly overwhelmed by the scope of this comical, yet strangely intense story. A quick perusal of the series history shows that its draw is as intense as its story and that its popularity has always been solid and has even broken world records for sale of some of its manga issues. Since its start as a serialized manga in 1997, it has steadily grown into a multimedia phenomenon as it expanded to OAVs, an animated series, theatrical films, novels, and of course, video games. While One Piece Unlimited World Red was originally released in the US in 2014 for consoles and handheld devices, this deluxe edition is a new and enhanced edition for the PC that includes over 50 DLCs that contain character costumes and further adventures. Despite some transitional differences and a complete lack of supporting background, the game combines excellent animation with cel shaded graphics and character writing that brings the anime series to life for fans and other familiar with the series.
The story is a prominent part of the game as is obvious in the frequent cinematic excerpts and is an original story by Eiichiro Oda written exclusively for the game and exhibits all the aspects of the master’s other works including dialogue ranging from humorously bizarre to brilliantly witty as the player traverses the game. But don’t worry, grind-lovers, there is also a great need for replaying each adventure zone several times, in order to build up the island village and craft upgrades for items, or to simply make medicine and food. Portrayals of the characters hold true to themselves throughout as do their respective fighting styles and abilities, of which each character has their own unique blend. All of the styles can be effective with a small learning curve for each. As mentioned above, the game’s graphics are expertly done based on the manga and anime and the variety of battle maneuvers make for an entertaining display in each battle.
The main adventure begins with the abduction of all crew save Luffy and it is up to him and a guest friend (a magical raccoon named Pato) to rescue them. Fortunately, the rescuing doesn’t take too long and pretty soon you are adventuring with a full group of three crewmates of your choosing (which you are able to switch between at will). Each adventure area emulates a different locality (dessert, frozen tundra, seaside, etc…) and aside from providing plenty of your everyday thugs to beat on, has a boss that hails from previous appearances in the series, most of which most or all of the crewmates hold a grudge against (although, finding a foe they don’t hold a grudge against might be the real challenge). Each area also has several nodes for interaction that require a specific character, so multiple playthroughs are a must (the bosses are only available in the first playthrough). Many crafting recipes also require items, or rather critters, that can only be acquired through the fishing and netting minigames. Another highlight, and one I could wish there was more of, while in the village the player assumes Luffy’s character and are able to Gum Gum Rocket through the town. Unfortunately, that form of travel is reserved for in the village except for a few action nodes in the adventure levels.
Aside from the story option, the game also includes a Battle Coliseum mode that is almost another adventure on its own. The player starts with just Luffy or Law to choose from, or team together and must fight their way to the top in order to gain their one chance to take down Donquixote Doflamingo. As the player makes their way higher up the ladder, they will have the opportunity to accomplish challenges that will unlock other characters. To begin with, there are only two modes for the Coliseum: Duel (player’s chosen character versus a boss) or Scramble (two chosen characters against a swarm of thugs), but as the player advances they open up others and encounter special battles that either give more points towards the players’ standing or allow for progression from one tier to a higher one.
While overall the game works well and is great fun, it does have some setbacks, some of which are most certainly the transition from console to PC. The control scheme, for instance, is decidedly odd, despite the fact that the player can customize most of the keys. There are some functions that are not customizable and presented issues. As with many games of this type, there are some spots where the camera fixes that make for an awkward traverse.
Adventure progression follows a repeating system in which a barrier is found that can only be passed by finding an item dropped only by fighting the indicated opponents. This mechanic is repeated in almost every adventure level. In console versions, the Battle Coliseum was multiplayer, a feature that didn’t make it to the PC version disappointing many fans. Also, anyone who is not at least familiar with the show will quickly find themselves overwhelmed and uncertain. This is not to say that the adventures don’t speak for themselves, if a player is a newcomer to the world of One Piece and can push through the lack of knowledge of characters and history, they will find themselves on an unforgettable journey that may very well lead them to a strong desire to begin acquainting themselves with the series.
One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition Review Score
- Outstanding animation/graphics
- A unique, original story by Eiichiro Oda
- Loads of action
- Multiple unique fighting styles
- A solid look into the world of an anime phenomenon
- Camera hang-ups and nonadjustable camera distance
- Repetitious level progression
- Grinding for drops
- No multi-player
- Lack of background information