Monkeying around with Luffy and his pirate chums is always a good time. Now that One Piece: Unlimited World Red is available for modern consoles with a ton of extras; let's see how well it holds up.
It seems like just yesterday that we reviewed a PS4 port of a PS3 version of a Nintendo 3DS game. In fact, it was. Anyway, Unlimited World Red is an interesting title in the long-running One Piece franchise. The basic gameplay involves beating up hordes of enemies that come in a variety of types. You'll battle kooky animals, rival pirates, and a large assortment of crazy bosses. You do so by tapping two buttons for different attacks and another button in order to dodge out of harm's way or possibly counter your foes' attacks. There's a variety of special moves to perform as well so experimenting with each of the playable characters is pretty rewarding. Seeing as all you need to do is attack then tap a button when prompted to avoid taking damage, it's fairly basic stuff that's easy to pick up and play.
One Piece is known for its off-the-wall characters and crazy scenarios so thankfully, the colourful world of Unlimited World Red reflects the insanity perfectly. As you progress through the campaign, you'll be delighted to see that every single stage has its own distinct personality. You'll traverse deserts, underwater areas, icy seas, and even fight up in the clouds. Of course, the familiar characters are great fun to watch interact and their Japanese voice cast does a fantastic job of making each character come to life. Whether you're a fan of One Piece or not, it's hard not to appreciate the wacky sights and sounds of Unlimited World Red.
Unfortunately, Unlimited World Red's campaign isn't very long. I completed the entire story mode within two short play sessions. That being said, there is a ton of content to work through besides the main campaign. You can enjoy an assortment of mini-games such as ones that have you collect balloons and walk the plank in a game of blindfolded chicken. During stages, you can fish and catch animals via quick-time mini-games and between the stages, you'll explore Trans Town which acts as the central hub. Here, you can talk to the locals, expand the town by building new shops and such, manage a small rooftop garden, challenge extra quests, and purchase a diverse array of upgrades. On top of all this, the Battle Coliseum mode is an extensive extra that tests your combat abilities.
All of that being said, the core beat 'em up gameplay is so basic that it gets monotonous quite fast. There's no significant strategy required as all you need to do is mash buttons, evade, encourage your allies once in a while, and unleash a special attack whenever the meter is charged enough. It's not only simple; the core gameplay remains the same throughout the adventure. I wish that additional elements were introduced like a system where you can tag allies to perform cool combos but nothing like that is implemented.
One major frustration I had while playing through the campaign is that there's a general lack of direction for a variety of reasons. First, you have to pause in order to view the map which needlessly interrupts the gameplay. Next, progressing sometimes involves finding keywords hidden in the stage. Once, I ran around for half an hour looking for one but then realised that it glitched and wasn't spawning a treasure chest so I had to restart in order to continue. Finally, a few missions in Trans Town had me scratching my head. When I was told to expand the town, I built a bunch of stuff but still couldn't progress. If only I knew that I merely had to build one specific thing.
Last but not least, you can play cooperatively with a friend in local multiplayer. I thought it was great to have the option to do so but the fact that you're forced to play within tiny rectangles is kind of disappointing. I wish it had an intuitive camera or split the screen vertically instead because this sort of setup makes cooperative multiplayer mostly unplayable if you don't have a massive television.
Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition is bursting with a ton of fun content that's contained within the vibrant and wacky world of One Piece. Unfortunately, the core gameplay is so repetitive that it doesn't quite complement Luffy's abilities as a pirate.
- + Simple and satisfying action that can be enjoyed either solo or with a friend
- + Crazy and colourful world
- + Loads of content and extras
- - Core beat 'em up gameplay is far too basic to remain interesting
- - Lack of direction can be frustrating
- - The main campaign is very short