One of the things I like the most about the Vita is that it has opened my eyes to many games that I would never even glanced at before. The fact that I can play anywhere and anytime has allowed me so much flexibility that I have given so many games a go, despite the fact that I may not have known much about the source material. The best example I have is Persona 4: Golden – which is easily one of my favourite Vita games and my experience with that title gives me confidence to try other things that I am unfamiliar with, such as games like this.
One Piece is a long running Manga and Anime series which has spawned many different games over the years, and quite a few make the transition to the west, the most recent of which is ONE PIECE Unlimited World Red. For those less familiar with the back story, the series is centred around The Straw Hat Gang, an incredibly eccentric group of misfit pirates led by Luffy, who curiously has the ability to stretch his limbs. In fact, all of the crew have their own bizarre abilities to go with their eccentric personalities. This ties in with the ridiculous enemies that you will find yourself up against, and that’s before your face the bosses!
ONE PIECE Unlimited World Red is an action/adventure title in a third person perspective in which your aim is to become the Pirate King. The thing is, everyone wants to be the Pirate King and Luffy’s rival for the positing is the eponymous Redfield from the game’s title. With the aid of some misfits, he abducts your friends and your quest begins.
Story mode is split into chapters, which in turn are comprised of small arenas which you need to explore. Progress to the next area is blocked by a password protected wall, the keyword for which is obtained by defeating specific groups of enemies. Successfully securing this will ultimately lead you on to the boss for that mission. It’s all over relatively quickly and before you know it, you are back in the town. This aspect of the gameplay is quite like the Dynasty Warriors style experiences, enemies will spawn as you enter areas and you can only progress once you have defeated them all.
During the quest you will obtain various materials and cash, and this can all be spent on upgrading the facilities in Trans Town, including Shops, Restaurants, a Pharmacy and even a Museum. It’s all very similar to Nintendo’s Animal Crossing series in that regard – with you needing to upgrade and expand your town to suit your needs – although it lacks a lot of the charm and longevity somewhat. It’s still a nice distraction from the “main” portion of the adventure and will see you repeatedly searching out for the materials you need to develop. It also opens up additional quests for you to complete, which will give you many hours of missions to complete in addition to the main campaign (which is unfortunately very short, I completed the story in around five hours). The game also packs a “coliseum” mode which requires you to face off against many of the enemies from the main story and does offer a nice distraction, even if the combat is exactly the same.
Speaking of combat, the game controls are pretty much as you would expect with the face buttons controlling your basic attacks, jumping and dodging. Once you have built up your special meter you can execute a variety of special attacks, or if fully charged a combined effort from your whole party, with often devastating consequences for your foes.
The visuals are very nice, the game has a distinctive anime hand drawn style which fans of the series will no doubt love. The character models in particular are very well done and it’s almost like you are participating in an interactive cartoon at times. The soundtrack is quite jolly and certainly suits the game but it does not have a translated voice cast; the Japanese audio is present albeit with English subtitles. It doesn’t ultimately detract form the experience though.
There are some annoyances though, such as the repetition in the quests and in the story. There are often periods of aimless wandering before enemies just spawn as well as the other members of your party randomly appearing in way because the AI couldn’t keep up with you, and as iterated above the campaign itself is quite short. These things don’t make this a bad game, but they are issues that need to be pointed out.
In the end, Unlimited World Red is most certainly a strange game – and it probably didn’t help that I didn’t really know what was going on a lot of the time. That said, I did find myself enjoying it when I played, and I certainly was disappointed when the story was over. Thankfully there is a new game plus mode and Bandai Namco Games have also also supported the game with additional quests via DLC, enhancing the lifespan of the title considerably. I probably would have enjoyed it more had I already been a fan, but playing this game has made me want to explore the series more, which has got to be a good thing right?