One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition review: King of small flaws

Credit to Bandai Namco
Credit to Bandai Namco /

Unlimited World Red definitely succeeds at capturing some of One Piece’s best traits, and a few action-adventure game quirks as well.

Developer: Ganbarion
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Switch, PC
Release Date: August 25, 2017

If you’ve ever so much as grazed the world of anime, surely you’ve encountered the dauntingly massive adventure series, One Piece. With over 416 million copies sold, One Piece can easily be considered a worldwide phenomenon.  Fans of the series often praise it for having expansive fictional environments, creative monsters, evolving characters, and capturing the romance of adventure in a neat little package.

From those highlights alone, One Piece is the perfect franchise to adapt into an action-adventure game. Developer Ganbarion agreed, leading them to develop One Piece: Unlimited World Red for 3DS, Wii U, Vita, and PS3 back in 2014. Now, as of 2017, they’ve also ported Unlimited World Red to PS4 and Switch under the title One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition.

Alas, other than courteously including all of the DLC released during Unlimited World Red’s original voyage through home consoles, the game has been left untouched. Unlimited World Red definitely succeeds at capturing some of One Piece‘s best traits, and a few action-adventure game quirks as well, but the hybrid is held back by some base flaws. Rather than being a harmonious hybrid of One Piece and action-adventure qualities, Unlimited World Red is a confused chimera of the two and loses half the charm of both. Despite its flaws, there are some segments where everything fits perfectly. In those moments, the potential of the game shines through, making all well in the world.

Credit to Bandai Namco
Credit to Bandai Namco /

Many of those moments can be found in Unlimited World Red‘s combat system. Combat relies on constantly changing up how you play. The game will force you to break your habits with the attack power boosting rush mode feature, which can only activate after performing various assigned combos. Despite being assigned combinations, I was never bored while executing them. Combat is often a fun, vibrant experience, no matter who you’re playing as. Despite having a relatively small roster of twenty characters, everyone feels special. Each attack feels unique, making full use of One Piece‘s colorful palette. Finishers, well, feel like finishers. They’re grand visual treats that often feel climatic while gratifying eviscerating non-boss type foes upon activation.

On the other side of things, the brief moments before a finisher activates can feel excruciatingly long. Finishers, certain power boosts, healing capsules, and a few other things in-game are all activated by the confusing “Word” system. In a very anime fashion, characters have to say a line of dialogue before anything of consequence begins. While the character is saying this line of dialogue, they’re completely helpless; everything other than your analog stick is briefly disabled. Oh, and your HP Bar is left completely open to attack. This would be a fine way to add drawbacks for using more powerful techniques. However, there’s absolutely no correlation between power and dialogue length. It’s a completely stylistic choice, only making its inclusion more aggravating.

Credit to Bandai Namco
Credit to Bandai Namco /

You can upgrade these moves via  Unlimited World Red‘s collectible system. In order to upgrade the any of three types of “Words” (Skill Words, Custom Words, and Item Words) you have to scour previously visited worlds for ingredients. Unlimited World Red gives you a minimal amount of direction as to where to find said ingredients; an unfortunate amount of findings are luck-based. Frustratingly so, when dealing with things such as the haphazardly designed fishing and bug catching mini-games.

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All mini-games in Unlimited World Red for that matter are a bit haphazardly executed. Halfway through the story mode, you’ll unlock the second half of the hub world which, based on the content found there, can be factually called mini-game island. Every activity on the island is a very basic mini-game with a One Piece skin. Remember that Cars-themed matching game you may have played on Miniclip as a kid? You know the one, where Owen Wilson goes “Kerchow” for every match you achieve? Well, now his endearing “Kerchow,” has been replaced by just a line of dialogue from One Piece. It’s agonizing to know that part of the budget was spent on something so mundane and different from anything else commonly found in an adventure title.

Luckily, the area you explore to reach said mini-games isn’t nearly as bad. Mini-games, like many of your activities in Unlimited World Red, can be found in the delightful hub world, Trans Town. Trans Town is a relatively small area, only two islands wide, but has tons of things to do. If you’re not heading out on a mission via the Trans Town port, you can enjoy classic gardening on a roof. If that’s not your thing, rocket jump on over to the tavern where you can upgrade what the town has to offer using the items you’ve collected in your travels.

Credit to Bandai Namco
Credit to Bandai Namco /

Getting from place to place in Trans Town is just a hoot as well. You can traverse the town in a Spider-Man-like fashion using Luffy’s rubber arms to launch yourself from building to building. I often had fun just doing this, and exploring the town. Unlimited World Red makes the town so delightfully fun to survey, and complete activities within.

Unlimited World Red’s source material lends itself nicely to adapt into an action-adventure RPG but…most pieces of content come across as half-baked ideas.

When you’re done figuring out where things are in town, it’s incredibly easy to bounce right over to the port. Once there, you can sample Unlimited World Red‘s mixed bag of a story mode. The story is more or less a clip show of the Straw Hats greatest exploits with a light narrative attached. The game takes you through various barebones set pieces from throughout the series, where you also fight the villains who appeared in those areas. The villain fights are nice, but there’s a ton of empty space between brawls, where just absolutely nothing happens.

Nevertheless, Unlimited World Red‘s exclusive villain, Patrick Redfield, is actually pretty cool to meet. He’s an anachronism from the previous era of great pirates where he was often lauded in the same sentence as other greats such as Whitebeard or Gold Roger. This lets him fit seamlessly into the world of One Piece, making him feel like a nice addition to the overall lore. It helps that he was designed by the series creator, Oda Eiichiro. For an original character, he had a criminally small amount of screen time.

Credit to Bandai Namco
Credit to Bandai Namco /

After you finish the main story, there’s a second, more battle-focused story mode called the Battle Colleseum. In it, you brawl against enemies in a variety of game modes. This is pretty fun you get to fight through a gallery of characters from One Piece. This time it’s sans the giant set pieces from the story. The battles are clean cut skirmishes, that are a blast to experience. To top it off, you actually get another series of cutscenes to enjoy. Battle Colleseum’s story is a nice, condensed version of the popular Dressrosa arc from the One Piece source material.

Similar to most of the game, a local pal using a second controller can join you in the Coliseum. Of course, this friend is 100% invincible, they will feel nothing and all semblance of a challenge will disappear. This problem was also present in the first game, but surprisingly it went unchanged upon rereleasing the game.

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One Piece Unlimited World Red had a lot of potential, but squandered much of it. Unlimited World Red’s source material lends itself nicely to adapt into an action-adventure RPG but it tries to do so much that most pieces of content come across as half-baked ideas. Despite having a large range of content, the lack of depth in each piece of content made Unlimited World Red dragon. If the game had a bit more focus I’m sure it could have been something special.

6.5. Each piece of content feels spread out, with little depth or little incentive to go deeper. here are random, boring, clumsily created bits of content that tonally have no place in the game such as the collection of minigames. Unlimited World Red shines when it puts forth an effort such as in the combat or original characters. Unfortunately, those bits are found too sporadically to make up for the game’s glaring flaws.. Ganbarion. . One Piece: Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.