One Piece: Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition Review- A Nice Bit of Fan Service

Developer: Ganbarion

Publisher: Bandai Namco Games

Release date: August 25, 2017

Available on: PC, PS4 (reviewed) NOTE: Coming to Nintendo Switch on September 29, 2017 (at the time of this writing)

One Piece has its share of fans, developing them over the years with the manga and anime series and a big gaming franchise that to date has 36 titles. One Piece: Unlimited World Red is the fifth game in the Unlimited sub-series, and first appeared on the Nintendo 3DS in 2013, moving to the PS3, Playstation Vita, and the Wii U in 2014. Now, for 2017, the game is available in a deluxe edition, featuring 40 DLCs in addition to the base game, and it moves to PC and the PS4 (It’s also scheduled to hit the Nintendo Switch this year by the end of September). With two modes- a story mode and a battle coliseum mode- along with an exclusive story by series creator Eiichiro Oda, the title brings plenty of content to the current generation of gaming consoles. The game features a Japanese voice cast with English subtitles, and while fans will undoubtedly get more out of it, newcomers shouldn’t worry about being completely lost. I myself am not a follower of either the manga or the anime (though after playing, I will be checking those out), and I was able to get into the story and grew to like the characters easily.

The story is decently told, and delivers plenty on the fan service. Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirate Crew encounter and befriend a mysterious but cheerful raccoon named Pato. Pato possesses the unique power of creating objects drawn on a leaf. The crew and Pato end up getting stranded on Forgotten Island, where everyone save for Luffy and the raccoon get promptly kidnapped. As Luffy rescues his shipmates he learns of the true villain behind their stranding- the wicked pirate The Red Count. The Red Count creates worlds from the gangs previous adventures, and Luffy and the crew need to pursue him to try and prevent him gaining an item that could give him incredible power. It makes for an entertaining tale, and manages to keep you invested across nine episodes (each with its own “To Be Continued” screen). In between episodes, Luffy and the gang can help rebuild the village of Transtown, as well as take on different quests from the local tavern. Just sticking to the main story with little distractions a playthrough of the story mode can take you 8-10 hours. Finishing the main story opens up the Difficult Main Story mode, where your quest is more challenging.

Aside from the main story, there is also a Battle Coliseum Mode, where Luffy and his crew take on various contenders across three leagues (designated A,B,C). This mode can be played on its own or you can jump back and forth between them. I chose to complete the main story first and then jumped into the Coliseum, but players can do as they like. The mode obviously starts you out in the lowest ranked league. In order to progress, you need to compete successfully in various battles, gaining points and ranking up until reach reach the top of the A League, where you’ll face off against the devious villain, Donquixote Doflamingo. The mode has its own little story that gives you some incentive to proceed through. This mode can take anywhere from 2-4 hours to complete, and as with the story mode, you can return to it after the credits have rolled.

The Coliseum has five different types of battles to participate in. Duels are one on one battles. Scramble has two of your crew members going up against a gang of enemies. Battle Royal pits two of the crew against two strong foes or one strong foe and a group of minions. Special Matches pop up, designating who you must use in combat, and are similar to Duels. Boss Rush opens up once you hit B League, and is a series of five battles of two crew members against one or two strong foes. As you take first place in each league, you then must participate in a Rank Match to get promoted to the next league. You can retry any match should you fail up to five times, with each time you retry you are given a healing pill that will be automatically used when your health drops to zero. In the matches where you use two characters, both have their own health bar and need to fall for you to fail a match. The Leagues can have multiple difficulty levels. C League has only Easy, B has Normal and Easy, and A has Hard in addition to the other two. The harder difficulties net your more points in your progression towards the next rank. Battles net you rewards, such as health packages, inventory items. or boss quests that apply to the main story. Any quests unlocked in the Coliseum can be accessed in the Tavern in town. Replaying the Coliseum opens up new feats to be accomplished as well as new boss quests to be unlocked.

Outside of fighting, there is plenty to do in One Piece: Unlimited World Red. Expanding the town aids you greatly, as opening a pharmacy gives you access to healing items and the factory gives you new building materials. Townspeople can be talked to, and some will reward you for completing certain quests you get at the Tavern. You can grow a garden, go fishing, or try to catch animals with your specialized net. Both fishing and catching animals puts you into a mini-game, which you need to be successful at to capture your quarry. Exploration plays a big part in gathering supplies to help expand the town. Occasionally, an incident, denoted by black smoke, will appear in town, which you’ll need to handle within a time limit. The better you do, the higher the rewards you receive. These diversions make for a nice change of pace from all of the fighting. While not necessary for completing either mode, they do enrich the experience, and make the game more than just a one dimensional brawler. For exploring, you’ll form a party of three from your crew, which cannot be swapped out once you’re in an episode. Characters will only level up if you choose them to be in a party. Certain things and places can only be accessed by specific characters, so those seeking to do everything will need to revisit areas with the proper members in their party.

For all the good in the game, it’s not without its flaws. The camera can be problematic, especially in tighter areas. There is some padding evident to prolong the game, and things, especially the fighting (of which you do a ton of) can feel repetitive. In fact, with the amount of fighting you do, this game can be quite exhausting, even though it’s mostly fun to play. The controls are not always as responsive as they should be, and I lost some battles because the characters didn’t respond to my commands. Part of that may be due to the fact that they get locked in animations, and your foes may land a blow before you can do anything. Fortunately, the game plays at a very smooth frame rate, and runs pretty much without any technical hiccups like crashing or stuttering. Graphically, it is one colorful and at times very pretty game to look at, and makes you feel like you’re playing the anime. Keeping the Japanese voices works to its advantage, so characters don’t suffer from a poor dub.

For fans, One Piece: Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition delivers the goods, featuring a wide assortment of characters and locales from the manga and the anime. Thankfully, newcomers can enjoy the game as well, without fear of being lost. There is plenty of content here, as doing everything could take you over 30 hours to complete. It’s not without its flaws, and some may be put off by its repetitive nature. Despite the repetitive nature of the combat, the game overall is a lot of fun, and the characters will win you over with their quirky and distinctive personalities. It’s a pretty game to look at, and is easy to pick up regardless of skill level. The game uses its license well and to its advantage, and that makes it worth your while to dive in a join the Straw Hat Pirates in their adventures.