If you’ve ever had an even a passing interest in anime or manga, you’ve probably heard of One Piece before. With the twentieth anniversary of the manga passing this year, One Piece is one of the longest running and most enduring manga series in history. With that sort of monumental success, it makes sense that One Piece would also come to other mediums as well. The series has a long history in gaming, with every console generation receiving at least a couple of new One Piece games. The latest of these releases, One Piece Unlimited World Red – Deluxe Edition, is actually a port of a port. Originally released for Nintendo 3DS and then ported to PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii, the action game now comes to the Nintendo Switch, complete with all the DLC released since the game original came out in 2013. Just like how One Piece’s story has become familiar over the years, One Piece Unlimited World Red – Deluxe Edition’s port falls into some familiar territory.
In recent years we’ve seen many Japanese games ported from PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 to current generation consoles when releasing in the West. These games largely stick to anime-inspired visual styles or cel-shading, allowing them to more easily be ported up without resulting in the game looking like a mess. The obvious downside to this is that they still don’t look up to the level of quality and polish as games developed specifically for the current generation. This explains Unlimited World Red to a tee. The visuals have definitely been upgraded, with character models coming close to what I’d expect from a current generation cel-shaded game, but environments leave something to be desired. The environments and worlds are colourful and fun, but they’re sparsely decorated and largely contain flat and low-quality textures. Props are repeated constantly throughout each Chapter’s world, leaving you sometimes confused as you meander your way through a map where half the rooms/areas/walkways look identical.
The lack of distinguishable features within each world is made all the more confusing and frustrating by the game’s lack of a mini-map. While potentially a result of the game being originally released in 2013 for a handheld with a small screen, it’s something that is an unnecessary omittance in the 2017 release. With winding pathways, multiple forks in the road and similar environments, constantly pausing the game to open up my map breaks what immersion the game builds. The game also suffers from a very small number of lines that your characters say during combat. Which is to say, every time you use the light punch your chosen character will make the same noise. When you must constantly hit things in combat and to collect materials, this quickly becomes extremely grating.
Combat itself is a largely shallow affair, which may come as a disappointment to gamers hoping for a relatively complex system. Combat is largely a two-button affair, using X and Y for melee and ranged attacks respectively, while you’re also able to contextually dodge and counter attacks using A. You’re able to freely swap between three characters (which you select from a roster of 9 before each world). Combos are simple combinations of X and Y, while pulling off a set list of combos displayed on the screen during combat put you into a rush mode where you move faster and deal extra damage, but runs out so quickly that there is little to no benefit to it. Coupled with special attacks which can be easily launched as you build your gauge during a fight, combat largely has you repeating the same two or three combos 10+ times as you take on enemies. The only variety in the combat comes from learning new special attacks as you level up or by constantly swapping the character you’re playing as.
Those same colourful and staple characters of the One Piece franchise are the best part of Unlimited World Red and are used heavily in the story of the game. Set after the time skip which saw the Sunny Pirates crew train heavily and come back stronger than ever, you find yourself arriving at a mysterious island in the Grand Line. Things quickly go south, as your crew is kidnapped, leaving Luffy on his own to save them while battling enemies. Curiously, each environment you enter resembles on the crew have visited in the past and vanquished foes have reappeared to torment you once more. Despite the manga and anime having some dark moments at times, it largely has a carefree and light-hearted feel to it, which is what Unlimited World Red adheres to. Puns and humour are injected into the writing as well, keeping the story from ever actually feeling foreboding, which is at odds with the build-up they attempt with the game’s villain. It feels like they wanted to create a villain to fear, but skipped over any sort of writing or tone that could match that, leaving the game’s story to largely feel inconsequential.
With graphics that don’t quite match this generation, a shallow combat system and an inconsequential story, One Piece Unlimited World Red – Deluxe Edition is a largely lacklustre affair. While there aren’t many other action games in this style on the Nintendo Switch yet, there are better games to buy unless you’re wanting a trip down nostalgia lane.
- Features full cast of One Piece main characters
- Good variety of costumes to choose from
- Combat system is shallow
- Story is inconsequential
- Not enough variety in character voicework
- Environments are simplistic and spare
- No mini-map