Here come the ports.
Now the Nintendo Switch has proven to be the hot new console sensation of 2017 – far more than Sony’s PS4 Pro and I dare say Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One X – there has been a sudden rush of already released games to the Switch. There’s huge opportunity for games to make their mark on a small (but quickly increasing) market, to be the first in their genre. This allows them to stand out on the Switch where they might otherwise be missed, or where they have already been overlooked on more established platforms.
One Piece Unlimited World Red: Ultimate Edition is a prime example of this. It’s not a fantastic game, but at the moment it is different to most of what’s out there on the Nintendo eShop, and that can be enough. When you consider the ability to take these full-fledged games out with you and liberate them from the TV or computer as well, a compelling case can be made. There’s something so good about playing games on the Switch – such as the drop in co-op support in One Piece Unlimited World Red – that makes games stand out on its platform.
One Piece Unlimited World Red starts with heroes the Straw Hat Pirates arriving at a new island. Like in any good anime or video game, they soon become embroiled in local town affairs without any really good explanation why this town is suddenly so important to them. But whatever, it’s a good premise for a story.
As someone unfamiliar with the franchise, the rest of the story barely made sense however. There is the clear assumption that you already know who everybody, including villains, are: their personalities, histories and motivations. The story introduces enemies seemingly taken from previous series or games and then expects you to immediately beat them up. Without a background in One Piece it didn’t really make a significant difference to my enjoyment of the game – it’s not like One Piece Unlimited World Red is aiming to be the next Witcher 3 in the storytelling department. I’m sure that if I were familiar with the franchise however, everything would make much more sense. Still, as a standalone title, and as the only One Piece title on the Switch, it may be worth researching the background for this game a little before diving in.
The premise is however a good justification for including town building where you collect resources from around the different levels to open and then expand new shops. Resources come not just from combat, but also from fishing and catching bugs in a net. There can be a fair amount of backtracking to grind out levels and farm certain items (wood blocks, I’m looking at you) that are required to develop your town, and the story can be gated by the level of development in your town. By opening up shops and other venues however, you get to purchase new items, listen to the game’s soundtrack and more.
Combat is the core of Unlimited World Red though, and it’s very similar to Dynasty Warriors. Use the face buttons for basic attacks, but then use various combos and abilities to take simple punches to whirlwinds of fury. There’s complexity there but just as often I found myself getting by through button mashing. Animations are great however, and flow together very nicely.
Levels generally consist of waves of grunts peppered throughout the level, before facing off against a boss that has one or more central mechanics. While grunts were never too difficult to cope with, bosses are where I had the most fun in the game. It tests your ability to counter, dodge and attack while working out the the bosses’ unique weaknesses.
I did encounter a somewhat hilarious save file bug, which counted the time I left the Switch in sleep mode as in-game time. For a game that will take you about ten hours for a standard play through, seeing over a hundred hours was quite amusing. Despite this bug though, the game ran smoothly, which is just as well considering the very basic level of visual fidelity of the game as a whole.
For fans of the anime, One Piece Unlimited Red World: Ultimate Edition is another great addition to the enormous entity that is One Piece. For those not already invested in the anime, manga, and other video games it’s a much less interesting option. Still, a couple of weeks out from Fire Emblem Warriors it’s the best option for mindless button mashing fun. The flipside of the poorly-told story is that it can be safely ignored, leaving big level to explore with satisfying boss encounters. The Ultimate Edition includes extra costumes and special quests that were fairly expensive additions on other platforms. Buy it if you love the anime, or save your time for Fire Emblem Warriors, out in only a couple of weeks for Switch as well.
Released: September 2017
Platforms: Nintendo Switch