One Piece: Unlimited World Red (Wii U) Review

By Shane Jury 16.07.2014

Review for One Piece: Unlimited World Red on Wii U

First bursting onto the pages of Japan's Shonen Jump! magazines way back in 1997, Eiichiro Oda's One Piece series has transcended the humble page to critical acclaim, becoming the greatest selling Manga in history, as of last year. One Piece tells the story of Monkey D. Luffy, an airhead pirate captain with a lust for adventure and extra-stretchy limbs courtesy of a forbidden Devil Fruit, and chronicles his tales as he builds a crew of eclectic members and aims to find the legendary 'One Piece' treasure. Ganbarion and Bandai Namco's One Piece: Unlimited World Red was originally a 3DS game when sold in Japan, but has now been upgraded and ported to Wii U, PlayStation 3 and Vita for a simultaneous release overseas. How does the World on Wii U spin?

One Piece: Unlimited World Red's story takes place after the time-skip point in the Manga/anime. Luffy and his crew pick up Pato, a small Tanuki, and take him home to Trans Town, where upon exploring the town solo, Luffy's friends are abducted by strange forces, and he sets out to find them. Whilst a very basic plot device, this does serve to get players into the game much quicker than more heavily story-oriented games do, which is handy for the type of game that Unlimited World Red is, although the placement of this game in the timeline of events makes it harder for newcomers to adjust to the characters.

Across this island, One Piece fans will find familiar setups and enemies, as the big bad of the game has brought back numerous foes from Luffy's past, giving the game both a narrative of its own and separate from the Manga, yet still tickling the nostalgia bone when needed. Helping this is the superb visuals and animations, opting for a colourful cel-shaded look that perfectly captures the character and spirit of the Manga. Voice work is also done well, albeit limited to Japanese vocals with English subtitles.

Screenshot for One Piece: Unlimited World Red on Wii U

Finding Luffy's friends involves exploring different parts of the island in a linear order, exploring environments and defeating any enemies in the way. This is done through real-time fighting and button combos. Fighting is, on the whole, quite enjoyable due to the many combination possibilities, and the animations used to convey stronger attacks make seeing each one a joy to witness. As the player rescues more of the Straw Hat crew, they will be selectable to control and switch to on-the-fly from whichever team is decided on for each level, and each one specialises in their own form of offence, be it long distance, quick jabs, healing allies, or other special abilities. 'Word Phrases' instead of weapons are the attack boosters in Unlimited World Red, making for a very unusual system by gaming standards, but complementing that zany feel the One Piece universe has.

Due to the structure of the gameplay, which revolves around gathering items in the levels to improve Trans Town, fighting waves of enemies when they appear, and taking out the end of stage boss, Unlimited World Red tends to become repetitive over long periods of play, not helped by how easy the game is at points. Bosses do require more strategy and planning to defeat, but the grunts that litter the levels pose almost no challenge at all.

Screenshot for One Piece: Unlimited World Red on Wii U

Trans Town acts as the central hub of the game, and it is here that the player can rest up between levels. By finding the items scattered through the levels and gaining money from fights, the town can be upgraded with more houses and facilities, opening up new quests for rare Word Phrases and opportunities against stronger foes. Navigating this area is simple, with Luffy able to stretch out and reach faraway buildings to catapult himself over, but when at street level, the rather fussy camera control does make itself known; thankfully a non-issue in the main levels.

Unlimited World Red has transferred over beautifully to home consoles, taking great advantage of the Wii U's HD capabilities for an even more striking colour palette than the 3DS could manage. A certain element of the original that did not make it over, however, and confoundingly so given the GamePad's optimal use for it, is the second screen map. The map becomes incredibly useful when looking for a specific shop in Trans Town, or searching for a quicker route in one of the levels, but in this version it is relegated to the pause screen. When there is nothing on the GamePad screen, save for a notice regarding Off-TV play (that admittedly works flawlessly), why Ganbarion couldn't have allowed the 3DS' bottom screen map to function the same on its bigger brother version is a mystery. Aside from the convenience of playing away from the TV, this also leaves little reason to use the GamePad as the primary input when the game allows for the arguably more comfortable Wii U Pro Controller and Wii Classic Controller to be used, too.

Screenshot for One Piece: Unlimited World Red on Wii U

Not only that, but the game's multiplayer function is also a glaring missed opportunity. Instead of splitting one player onto the GamePad screen and leaving the other on the TV, both remain on the TV in a bizarrely non-centred horizontal split-screen with wasted screen space on each side. The frame-rate is still silky smooth and there is no difficulty seeing what's going on, but the blank space is perplexing.

Like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate before it, Unlimited World Red takes advantage of its presence on both Nintendo machines by offering a Cross-Play feature on the main menu; a simple progress transfer from one version to the other for at home or on the go, and a very useful feature for those looking to double-dip.

That said, whilst the game's arrival on Wii U doesn't take advantage of the machine as much as most would like, what Unlimited World Red does do, it does well, for fans of the series in particular. The main story is long and packed with tasks and rewards, not to mention cameos and places from stories past. Alongside the Story Mode is 'Coliseum Mode,' which features a smaller narrative to itself as Luffy and his sword-wielding partner, Trafalgar Law, along with the rest of the Straw Hats, fight through the ranks of the Coliseum to face Donquixote Doflamingo, a notorious underworld pirate with a sizable bounty on his head. This mode can also be played with any of the Straw Hats and even certain bosses after fulfilling set conditions. The Coliseum is likely where most players will spend the majority of their time, as not only is it the most up-to-date part of the game in relation to the Manga because of being a new addition to the Western release, but special unlockables that can be transferred to the main Story Mode will give players an advantage there.

Far from being a shining example of a Third Party title that makes full use of the Wii U's features, One Piece: Unlimited World Red is nonetheless a solid experience and a very worthy purchase for fans.

Screenshot for One Piece: Unlimited World Red on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Helping to wash away the act of piracy that was One Piece: Romance Dawn and Unlimited Cruise SP, Unlimited World Red presents an elegantly realised universe full of colour and series charm, held together with fun fights and rewarding tasks. The repetition of said features, plus the lack of the Wii U's strengths being put to use is unfortunate, but dedicated One Piece fans and patient newcomers will find a lot to love.

Developer

Ganbarion

Publisher

Namco Bandai

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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