3DS
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Game Info:

One Piece: Unlimited World Red
Developed By: Ganbarion Co., Ltd.
Published By: Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Available On: 3DS, Wii U, PS3, PS Vita
Genre: Action Adventure
Number of Players: 1-4
ESRB Rating: T; Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco
Price: $29.99
(Amazon affiliate link)

Thank you Bandai Namco for sending us this game to review!

One Piece has quickly become one of my favorite character driven anime series' in quite some time.  While it doesn't compare to the most intense story driven ones like FullMetal Alchemist or Code Geass, it is really hard not to fall in love with the flawed yet contagiously optimistic members of the Straw Hat Pirates, led by Monkey D. Luffy and his crew.  Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this way, as One Piece is the 8th longest currently running anime series of all time, according to Wikipedia.  It is also the best selling manga series in history.

One Piece: Unlimited World Red is the fourth game in the Unlimited series, and the latest in a line of One Piece games that spans dozens since the early 2000s.  It is also incredibly current in the One Piece timeline – so if you are like me and still watching or catching up on the English releases, you must be aware that there are significant spoilers that take place hundreds of episodes after the latest One Piece English anime releases.  On the other hand, the game scenario was written by series creator Eiichiro Oda, and features many returning enemies (and friends) of the Straw Hat Pirates.

Luffy and friends, along with a new companion Pato, are traveling on the open sea and discover the island village of Transtown.  Hoping to resupply, they stop and split up, with Luffy looking for some food, naturally.  After rescuing a woman in distress named Yadoya, he agrees to help her and her town develop in exchange for some food.  He soon discovers that his friends are missing, and it is up to him to find them.  After rescuing them all, they begin to find that something else is behind all of this – and why do these places that they are visiting look like islands that they have all been to before?

Highlights:

Strong Points: Recreates the One Piece atmosphere really well; levels pay homage to the series' history; story written by the series creator Eiichiro Oda; graphics and  sound/music fit One Piece perfectly; fully Japanese voice acted; great full motion video scenes; lots to do, with a lot of hidden depth
Weak Points: Battles can get repetitive at times; major series spoilers for those who are not completely caught up on One Piece (or who have only watched the English Dub); some of the gameplay depth seems a bit unnecessary, with the Word systems being a prime example; if you love the English Funimation dub, those voices are nowhere to be found, and there is a LOT of Japanese voices; the subtitles occasionally fly by on screen faster than I can read the words
Moral Warnings: Cartoon Violence, including enemies crying out in pain when defeated; Sanji and other characters still smoke tobacco; the heroes are pirates; many of the women wear very skimpy outfits, particularly up top to show off cleavage; Some suggestive dialog; PG-13 language like a*s and b**tard used in the game

Unlimited World Red is a 3rd person action adventure game where you and a team of two other Straw Hats can team up and pound multitudes of enemies into pulps while trying to accomplish your goals.  There is a main quest story arc, and there are many side quests that can net additional rewards.  Per your agreement with Yadoya, you also help rebuild the town.  By gathering certain materials while on your quests, you can help make new buildings, which in turn can help you by selling things or offering services.  

While on quests, you can collect lots of resources by beating up bad guys, or by smashing crates, barrels, or various foliage.  You can also catch certain bugs with a butterfly net or fish in various spots with a rod.  Both of those require completing a minigame, which can quickly become difficult.  If you raise the level of your fishing or catching gear, it makes a huge difference, though.

On top of the approximately ten hour main quest and the town building elements, there is also a coliseum.  In this mode, you can battle either hordes of opponents, or one on one battles against various bosses, or even special enemies only to be fought in this mode.  Once you beat the main story, a 'difficult main story' also opens up.  Overall, there is a ton of replay value, and a whole lot to do to keep you busy in this game.

Fighting enemies is done from behind in a 3rd person view, and you can change to any character you brought with you on the fly by touching their portrait on the touchscreen.  You use the face buttons (B,A,Y,X) to fight, with two attack buttons, a jump button, and a context sensitive action button.  You can also perform powerful special attacks with the R+face button combination.  When you do, they use up SP points that you gain during battle.

While repetitive button mashing can sometimes be effective, the game discourages this in two ways.  The first is having many opportunities to dodge or counterattack by pressing the A button when prompted.  Another way is by listing out various combos, that, once all of them are completed, grants you a temporary power and speed boost.  It's fun, and definitely comes in handy.  I found the combat enjoyable for the most part, and really enjoyed seeing each character's special abilities rendered quite smoothly at the enemies' expense.  Boss battles were large and epic, and mostly enjoyable, though challenging enough that I found myself dead on occasion.  Thankfully, you can retry if you need it.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 70%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 6/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

There are some interesting RPG-like elements as well.  There is a level system, so you do gain experience when defeating enemies.  There is also a 'Word' system.  There are Skill Words, Custom Words, and Item Words.  Words are learned by each character as you progress through the game, or you can find them hidden in chests.   Skill Words are always available once learned, and you can equip Custom and Item Words.  Item Words act like items – you can activate them during battle.  Custom and Skill are always active.  You can also level up Words, making them much more effective.  These cost resources, as do most other things like upgrading rods and nets, building structures, and many other thing.  So, between this and earning money, there is absolutely plenty to do.

This game just nails the characters.  Now, in my opinion, if a One Piece game didn't, it wouldn't be a One Piece game – this series is all about the characters.  But even more than that, it nails the atmosphere and 'feel' about what it means to be One Piece.  This includes pirates who help anyone in need – despite making just as many enemies as friends.  It is also filled with excellent Japanese voice overs, and lots of them – not just our heroes, but just about everyone.  There are tons of voices, and you can reply at almost any time by tapping 'R' when prompted.  I didn't expect the Japanese to bother me, but it quickly did as there were so many foreign words flying about, though I eventually got over it.  I did find it frustrating at times when so much was happening that I simply couldn't keep up with the subtitles on screen.  Despite all of this, there is a lot to like.  If you can understand spoken Japanese, I bet this would be a real treat.

From an appropriateness standpoint, there is plenty of cartoon violence, including sound effects to go with it.  The main characters are pirates, though these are the good kind – no looting and pillaging here.  Each character has their flaw though, like Usopp's lying and Nami's desire for treasure.  Speaking of Nami, both her and Robin (but especially Nami) have some pretty revealing outfits.  The cleavage is pretty extreme as well.  Sanji still showers women with unwanted attention, and tobacco is still shown being used.  Some PG-13 language like a*s and b*stard is used.

One Piece: Unlimited World Red is a One Piece game that is clearly made by a team that knows its property (Ganbarion has been making One Piece games since at least 2001) and it shows.  The action is tight, the graphics and music/sound are very good, and the environments fit the show very well.  Appropriateness issues are present, and not all that surprising.  Spoilers abound, so if you are a fan of the anime or manga, please make sure that you are reasonably caught up before indulging.  While you can enjoy this game without being a fan, One Piece fans have much to look forward to.

About the Author

Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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