One Piece: Unlimited World Red – Deluxe Edition is a pleasant action adventure game that stumbles due to a lack of gameplay variety and a tacked-on story.
One Piece: Unlimited World Red Deluxe
Developer: Bandai Namco
Platform: Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch (Sept 29), PC
MonsterVine was provided with a PS4 code for review.
Let’s be straight: I love One Piece, and I’m not alone in that regard. It’s hard to overstate just how ridiculously enormous One Piece is in Japan. One Piece almost transcends pop culture in its country of origin. Kids and adults alike read the manga every week, or watch the anime every Sunday. There are One Piece-themed bars and shops, and you’d be hard-pressed to visit a gift store with no merchandise from the series. It’s little wonder that such a colossal franchise would spawn a number of video games, including the one we’re talking about today.
In One Piece: Unlimited World Red Deluxe, you play as Monkey D. Luffy, the main character of the series who wants nothing more than to be the “King of the Pirates”. Set between story arcs of the show, Luffy and his pirate crew stumble upon an island where a legendary pirate is, in an attempt to return his tanooki friend to him. The plot is as ridiculous as it sounds, but it suits the silly tone that is present for most of the story. The narrative feels fitting of a filler arc or a movie set in the series’s universe in that it isn’t particularly important, or more so, it feels tacked on.
Unlimited World introduces a character who is said to be as notorious and powerful as the two greatest pirates in the series, a pirate known as Redfield. While his character is enjoyable and surprisingly well-written, the idea that there’s this third legendary pirate is hard to swallow since he’s never been mentioned before. Since One Piece is a series that is known for its world-building, the story of Unlimited World feels cheapened because of this addition. Original stories in games based on anime can be a lot of fun when they stay grounded, so it’s unfortunate that Unlimited World needlessly tries to retroactively add to the lore of an already well-established story.
“The narrative feels fitting of a filler arc or a movie set in the series’s universe in that it isn’t particularly important, or more so, it feels tacked on.”
The gameplay of Unlimited World would be best described as musou-lite with RPG elements. As three members of the Straw Hat crew, you run through a themed area and blow through hordes of enemies with crazy and colorful attacks. The battles become somewhat derivative as time goes on, as having a set number of combos and only 3 unique super attacks means that over the 9 chapters that make up Unlimited World, the combat will wear thin before you finish the story mode. Even against singular bosses, you’ll typically find one attack or strategy that works and stick to it until you’ve won. The equipment system is a strange one, but one that’s still effective. You equip “Strong Words”, as ludicrous as that sounds, which have their own effects for each character. It’s a fun way to tie memorable quotes from the series into strengthening your characters.
There are quite a few activities you can take part in outside of battle, both in the hub city and throughout each level. For those who enjoy collectibles, you can catch various bugs, fish, and small animals using a fishing rod and bug net. These can be sold, used to create items, or displayed in a museum to earn money. The other major side activity is city-building, which is done from the hub town. By gathering money and materials you can build new shops around the city, from pharmacies to factories. Each location provides valuable items for healing and synthesis that make it worth expanding the town. Not only that, but there’s a sense of satisfaction to seeing the barren town fill up with colorful buildings, giving it a sense of life.
There are missions that can be accepted in the Tavern, all of which are unique and separate from the story mode. The Deluxe Edition includes all DLC missions from previous releases, ranging from themed battles with characters like Shanks and Ace, to fighting groups of dinosaurs. It’s a strong amount of extra content that can give you some decent materials whenever you want to take them on, which is handy for completionists who want to finish building the town. Also included in the Deluxe Edition is all previously released costumes, most of which are from previous movies or promotional events. While they wouldn’t be worth a purchase by themselves, their inclusion in this version of the game is a nice little bonus.
“It’s a lot of fun since you can do a couple quick battles to unlock lots of new things for the story mode, making it worth playing even for people more interested in the campaign.”
Finally there’s the Battle Coliseum, a mode where you can partake in special battles with set conditions in order to become the coliseum champion. In this mode you’re able to play as a number of characters that you can’t be in the story, with many fan favorite characters like Trafalgar Law and Boa Hancock being unlocked early on. As you climb the ranks of the Coliseum, you unlock new characters and obtain items to use in the story mode. It’s a lot of fun since you can do a couple quick battles to unlock lots of new things for the story mode, making it worth playing even for people more interested in the campaign. Battle Coliseum even has a smaller story seemingly based on the Dressrosa arc, which makes it feel more like a fully fleshed mode than a simple extra add-on.
Unlimited World’s visuals are sufficient, but more importantly, fitting of the manga’s style. While it doesn’t look like a native PS4 title (because it isn’t one), the visuals are perfectly fine, largely thanks to the cel-shaded style. The game’s status as a PS3/3DS title are most evident in cutscenes that depict static models with their mouths open talking to one another. There are some very expressive and fluid cutscenes to counter these, which can be surprisingly high quality.
The sound in Unlimited World is energetic and full of passion. The music sounds like it would fit into the anime perfectly, with epic orchestrated scores that help give the New World a sense of scale that fits the adventurous world of One Piece. The voice acting is unsurprisingly perfect, thanks to the already stellar cast used in the anime. Every character oozes with charm, even the more detestable villains.
The Final Word
One Piece Unlimited Adventure Red Deluxe Edition can be a lot of fun, but the repetitious combat becomes old before you finish the story. The activities that take place outside of combat are plentiful and fun, and the Battle Coliseum is rewarding and enjoyable. It’s just a shame that the story feels as tacked on as the combat is repetitive.
-MonsterVine Rating: 3 out of 5 – Average