One Piece: Unlimited World Red is a third person brawler based on the long running anime series, which at the time of writing exceeds six hundred episodes. Forget about Bastian and his oversized flying mutt – One Piece is the true never-ending story. Published by Bandai Namco, the game is presently available to buy for the PlayStation Vita in addition to the Nintendo 3DS, PS3 and Wii U. Unlimited World’s plot sees a veteran swashbuckler named Red causing havoc on his quest to secure the “King of Pirates” crown. Red has the ability to clone superhuman criminals by scribbling on leaves and the only ones who can stop him are the quirky Straw Hat crew, led by Stretch Armstrong like rubber man Luffy.
Unlimited World’s story mode spans across eight chapters that involve traipsing through levels in search of “power words” that will grant you access to the stage’s next area. Booty can be picked up from defeated enemies and spent at the town stores you build using materials littered across each level. When I first spied the game it reminded me a little of the Dynasty Warriors series, but its slower paced combat and light RPG elements make it feel more like a Phantasy Star Online game. By pressing the circle and triangle buttons players can launch a combo of attacks, whilst x is tapped to jump and circle is used to evade. During a mission players take control of one character and are aided by two AI companions, which they can switch between by hitting select.
The Straw Hats roster is made up of nine playable characters that include a couple of chesty gals, a shape shifting reindeer and someone who resembles a skeletal pimp. Each character has their own unique fighting style, which makes them feel very distinct. Sanji the flirtatious cook for example specializes in kicking foes, whilst Usopp the big nosed coward prefers to pelt enemies from a safe distance by utilizing a slingshot. Other fighters you can play as include Zoro (the bandana wearing swordsman who grips a blade in his mouth) and Franky, a cola powered cyborg who fires cannonballs from his robotic arms. I can only imagine what series creator Eiichiro Oda was smoking when he came up with this stuff.
My rating for One Piece: Unlimited World Red is a three out of five. I’m not a big admirer of the cartoon, but I still had fun playing through this game. I’m certain that fans of the franchise will appreciate it even more than I did. Visually speaking I’m not fond of the One Piece character designs, but from a technical point of view the graphics are decent and do a good job of recreating the 2D cast in three dimensions. Like many other Vita titles, hailing from the east, the dialogue is in Japanese with English subtitles. Viewers who watch the anime in its native tongue will be okay with that, but given the show’s prominence I was a little surprised that Bandai didn’t bother to dub the game.
Whether Unlimited World is worth the full retail asking price will vary from player to player. If you are only interested in beating the main story it may be wise to wait for a discount, as I managed to complete the main campaign in just ten hours. If you are the sort of compulsive chap who must platinum every game they own there is however plenty of content on offer. Besting the story unlocks a harder difficulty and there are also a plethora of optional side quests to tackle. Additionally the game includes a coliseum mode where players can scrap in various arenas using the Straw Hat pirates and a few other characters that aren’t playable in the main game. That should keep you occupied for a while… although nowhere near as long as watching the six hundred plus animated episodes.