The age of pirates is here, and the sea is calling all those who would attempt to explore its merciless waters. Countless bandits, thieves, murderers, and warriors have taken to the high seas in search for glory, fame, and the greatest treasure on Earth, One Piece. Monky D. Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates have overcome many enemies and obstacles on their journey, but their greatest challenges still lie before them. Now, through a strange turn of events, a mysterious and powerful new adversary has risen to stand in their way. Luffy and his crew must stand together and muster their courage to face this formidable enemy and unravel the secrets that surround him.

One Piece: Unlimited World Red is an incredibly entertaining action/adventure game set in the world of the most popular anime series of all time, One Piece. Above all else, this is a game for the fans. While the game itself may have its flaws, this is a truly delightful way to get your One Piece fix. If you’ve ever dreamed of joining Luffy on his oceanic adventures, this is your moment to live it up. This game is a celebration of everything that fans have come to love about this amazing series.

One of the most alluring aspects of this new title is its story. One Piece: Unlimited World Red is a completely new, stand-alone story that was written by the series creator himself, Eiichiro Oda. For die-hard fans of One Piece, this will be the only thing you need to read to make your decision on whether or not to buy this game. On the other hand, gamers that are unfamiliar with the comprehensive One Piece story and lore will feel left out when it comes to much of the in-game narrative, jokes, references, and possibly even this review. Then again, if you are an anime fan and you’re not watching One Piece, you should be ashamed of yourself, and you need to get your priorities straight.

Red Count and Pato

Unlimited World Red boasts a truly wonderful narrative that is highlighted by two specific feats. This game is both a nostalgic tribute to characters and stories of the past as well as a new, thrilling adventure that will keep you smiling and laughing until the very end. The new storyline for this One Piece game centers around two new characters, Pato and the Red Count. Pato is an adorable tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) with a loyal heart, and Red Count is a legendary pirate with the same clout and power as that of other renowned pirates like Whitebeard and Gol D. Roger. Eiichiro Oda does a fantastic job of tying this story into the main series narrative smoothly and effortlessly considering how convoluted and inconsistent things can become when adding new characters and tales to the canon of any story.

Another of my absolute favorite aspects of this game is the voice work. Unlimited World Red was created with the entire original Japanese cast from the series. Many people might be disappointed by the lack of an English dub, but as far as I’m concerned, to dub this game would be the same as blasphemy, heresy, and sacrilege. One Piece would not be the same without the original voice cast, so if there are any fans out there watching the show in English, STOP IT! My hat is off to the western voice cast for their work on the English version of the show, but the two versions are simply incomparable.

The rest of the audio for Unlimited World Red is just as marvelous as the voice work. All of the sound and music in this game really are superb. The music is a joy to listen to and is on par with what one would expect from the show. If you have a pair of headphones available, I would definitely recommend using them while playing. It’s difficult to really enjoy all the sweet, melodious sounds when only using the Vita’s speakers.

All of the individual sound effects and ambient dialogue through the game are icing on the cake when it comes to the game’s audio. I really enjoyed running around the island while random townspeople would cheer or talk to me as I passed by. Battles were made even more amusing though this as well. I couldn’t help but to smile when the Straw Hat crew would shout out to one another or yell out their famous combat catch phrases like Luffy’s “Jet Gattling,” or Zoro’s “Santoryu.” It just makes me feel all tingly inside.

Luffy faces a familiar foe.

Luffy faces a familiar foe.

The beautiful art of this game is also a real treat for the eyes. The colors are bright and vivid, and the cell shaded style really makes players feel like they’re inside the actual animation. While the PS3 and Wii U versions are graphically superior, the PS Vita version still sparkles and shimmers on that gorgeous display.  The graphics aren’t going to change your world, but they are definitely going to satisfy your Luffy-sized appetite for One Piece goodness.

One Piece: Unlimited World Red’s gameplay offers a great deal of activity and combat variety as well. The gameplay is broken up between the main town, side excursions, and the main story missions. You will be spending a lot of time in the village as this is your main hub for everything you will be doing. In this settlement, players will be defending villagers from enemies, helping various residents to complete tasks, or even assisting in the expansion of the town’s businesses. While much of this is optional, I highly recommend that you take the time to complete these tasks as doing so will result in increasing your team’s abilities, statistics, and item selections. Besides, you can’t be a real Straw Hat pirate unless you’re selflessly assisting anyone without a second thought. Fans know that this is just how Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates roll.

Luffy explores the village.

Luffy explores the village.

When players have completed all the odd jobs within town and are ready for action, it’s time to set out to see the rest of the island. Each of the story missions is broken up into individual episodes, like the TV show, complete with “To Be Continued” endings. Players will pick their team of three, set up abilities and buffs, and jump head first into whatever dangers lay before them. Character skill customization can be a bit confusing as it may take some time to figure out the difference between “Skill Words,” “Item Words,” “Strong Voice,” and “Custom Words.” I was half way through the game before I was able to really grasp the difference, and even then it didn’t have much of an impact on my playthrough. Fortunately, when Unlimited World Red moves past trying to include creative gameplay elements and just focuses on the fan service, it really begins to shine.

Each of the missions will take the Straw Hat crew to unique and beautiful locations that are sure to please fans. I can’t get into specifics without ruining the surprise, so I’ll just leave it at that. All the locations are beautiful and fun to explore. Just looking around these stunning environments will really make fans feel giddy. Again, I would love to explain why, but that would just spoil the surprise.

Zorro is a beast.

Zorro is a beast.

The combat in Unlimited World Red is simple but incredibly fun. Players can constantly switch back and forth between their teammates to have fun with everyone’s abilities. Each of the Straw Hat Pirates doesn’t just have their own distinctive punch or kick, but they each have their own completely unique fighting style based on their character and actual abilities. For example, Luffy is great for fast paced melee combat, Nico Robin can attack multiple enemies at once, and Chopper has a great healing ability for support. I just about wet myself when I tried to attack an enemy with Franky, and he just struck a pose. It’s just too good.

While the button mashing can feel repetitive after a while, all the fun combos, quips, and voice work really keep things entertaining. As you attack, characters will also build up their special attack meters for even more powerful abilities that are sure to tickle your fancy. While performing the same moves over and over can get tiring for some gamers, dominating bad guys with a flurry of Zorro’s fierce katana slashes or Sanji’s Flambage Shot will keep fans happy though to the end.

For those who want to enjoy all the One Piece craziness with their friends, Unlimited World Red also features a co-op mode that allows others to join your game. Playing solo and switching between characters in is fun, but having a real companion to share your adventure with is even more exhilarating. With the game’s co-op features, you can play through the story, fish, catch bugs, or even fight against your friends to see who the real pirate king is. While these options may be unnecessary for most people, it’s always good to see developers looking out for those who still want to have some tag-team fun.

Brook, Zorro, and Nami team up for a mission.

Brook, Zorro, and Nami team up for a mission.

The only real issues I had with the gameplay were the camera control and the map. On the PlayStation Vita, I often had a difficult time controlling my viewing angles during combat. This proved to be rather frustrating during boss battles, especially when facing enormous bosses that took up the entire screen. I would imagine that the PS3 version was much easier to control, but as of writing this review, I haven’t had the opportunity to play it on that platform.

The map was also considerably annoying to use. With the Vita’s touch screen, I would imagine that it should be easy to design a map tool that allows you to zoom or rotate the map at will. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The map had only basic functionality that allowed one zoom option. At least I wish there was a real-time map to keep on screen when exploring. That could have made a big difference.

These two issues didn’t really affect the story or side missions as much as they did the in-town exploration. When in the main village, Luffy needs to rocket himself over buildings and around the town to find various items, talk to people, or visit stores. This was quite difficult as camera angles kept me from being able to see action icons, and the inadequate map made is hard to find locations or even figure out where I was. These two problems are not game-breaking by any means, but they do take a bit of the joy out of such a fun experience.

Straw Hat Pirates Battle Royale

Straw Hat Pirates Battle Royale

Besides the main game mode, players can also have fun with Unlimited World Red’s Battle Coliseum Mode where you will have to fight your way through hordes of enemies and famed warriors to reach your final challenge, the one and only, Donquixote Doflamingo. This is just a traditional pyramid-style, tournament challenge mode, but for fans like me, that’s more than enough to keep me entertained. While the Battle Coliseum Mode doesn’t provide the same technical gameplay as a traditional fighter, the challenge and incredible cast of One Piece characters is more than I could ask for.

Overall, One Piece: Unlimited World Red is everything I expected and more than I hoped for from this new title. While the game does have some minor flaws, it is truly a feast of nostalgia and an absolute treat for fans. If you’re thinking about jumping into the world of One Piece with this game, I would recommend watching the series first before you run out to buy this game. Don’t get me wrong. This is a wonderful game in and of itself, but without having a substantial knowledge of the franchises’ deep story and absurdly entertaining characters, players just won’t get as much out of it. However, for fans of the series there should be no question. Go and buy this game right now. Period! One Piece: Unlimited World Red is an imperfect game, but I is still a wonderful experience full of laughter and excitement and is well worth the time and investment.

[The images used in this review were captured from the Wii U version. Assets and the review copy were provided by Bandai Namco Games.]

 

One Piece: Unlimited World Red Review
One Piece: Unlimited World Red is truly a game for the fans. While it may be an imperfect gaming experience, it does a marvelous job appealing to and pleasing die-hard One Piece fanatics. Newcomers may want to start their voyage with the anime series before coming aboard, but Straw Hat Pirate connoisseur will definitely want to pick up this exciting game.
Story8.5
Gameplay8
Controls7
Graphics8.5
Audio8.5
PROS
  • Wonderful, original story. Beautiful cell-shaded art & incredible voice work. One Piece fan-service galore.
  • Beautiful cell-shaded art & incredible voice work.
  • One Piece fan-service galore.
CONS
  • Poor camera controls. Repetitive, button mashing gameplay.Confusing skill customization elements.
  • Repetitive, button mashing gameplay.
  • Confusing skill customization elements.
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
7.1

About The Author

Derrick D
Editorial/Reviews Writer

Derrick has been an avid gamer since before he even started kindergarten. He is a video games enthusiast first and foremost and has a unconditional love for the gaming industry. His fun-loving personality, wide array of experiences, as well as his background in gaming and the film industry have helped him to develop a unique perspective that is always thoughtful and invariably entertaining.