Zoro to Hero.
Becoming an unsurprisingly steady trend on the Nintendo Switch, One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition is yet another welcome addition of ported games to Nintendo’s new hardware, this time, in the form of the outrageous and wacky pirate, Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate crew from the cult classic Shonen Jump anime, One Piece. While there isn’t necessarily the need to mark any factors of the game with a resounding ‘X’ (like you might your pirate bounty), One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition is a solid action RPG-cross-brawler experience, but is plagued with the issues from the original version, with a dated camera system and awkward battle mechanics that can be tough to gaze over in instances.
There’s no doubt in the message that developer Ganbarion and publisher Bandai Namco wished to convey in their re-release of One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition – what you’ll experience in this package is a relatively convincing service to fans of the long-standing One Piece anime. Gameplay pans out much like it would in its TV show counterpart, as you take the resounding role of the masterful pirate, Monkey D. Luffy, and the variety of quirky and silly personalities that assemble as his crew abroad. As Luffy and his crew stumble across new lands, you’ll be given a quick tutorial to demonstrate the game’s mechanics for your journey ahead.
One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition is built upon a strong focus of engaging and fun combat, demonstrated well here in a variety of colourful, explorative levels. As you push through what is a relatively standardised list of quests to undertake set about by Transtown’s folk, you’ll encounter frightening foes, all familiar to fans of the anime. Caesar Clown, Hody Jones, Whitebear and the Wapol crew all make an appearance, making threatening waves to set Luffy and his crew off course for good.
While core combat in your quest to be the very best pirate will serve satisfactory, you’ll need to take full advantage of One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition’s special attacks, recovery items, and its ‘Word’ system. Words are used in the form of custom phrases, which serve as your special attacks. While it’s definitely a different approach to a stale attack list and character level progression, I found it to be a little confusing and confronting at times, having little guidance on which Words to assign to each character in my crew.
Amidst boss fights, you’ll need your undivided attention, as the game’s main challenges appear here, but to great effect. While build-up fights and your approach to boss fights are a walk in the park in most instances, boss fights will require meticulous defensive strategy. Unfortunately, the key mechanic in defending your character in control is a simple button press, only appearing as a timed prompt. While the prompt itself is forgiving in initiating a counter-attack or a block move, I found myself in many instances simply standing in a single spot and mashing the A button, waiting for a gap in play to strike. While I’m aware that this mechanic is unchanged and evident in the original version on other platforms, it seems an oversight given the clumsiness than can eventuate amidst tough battles.
While Multiplayer certainly isn’t the focus of One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition, the Deluxe Edition does bring a fascinating new feature to the title, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Despite being halfway through my solo campaign, I was given the option of Co-op Play, tucked neatly away in the pause menu. Once initiated, a second player was able to jump in and fight alongside me, and astoundingly, with a single joy-con controller. It’s an incredible premise given the complexity of the game, but serves as the perfect feature if a budding One Piece fan peskily lays their chin on your shoulder watching the madness unfold, with the intent of joining in on the fun.
Graphics & Sound
One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition is astoundingly vibrant and colourful, something we’ve seen often in One Piece games of yesteryear. Luffy and the gang are incredibly well emoted, with gorgeous cel-shaded visuals, not to mention the striking hand-drawn textures that are scattered throughout each hub world. Enemies appear as fierce as ever, with their over-the-top reactions to your explosive attacks, while special attacks appear exaggeratingly fun to watch on screen.
It’s important to note that the presentation here is One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition’s greatest asset, and furthermore, looks stunning in both Docked and Handheld modes on the Nintendo Switch, running at a cool 60 frames per second across both modes. Although only running at 720p in Handheld mode, my playing experience was crisp, fluid, and a delight to play. Calming orchestral pieces from the in-house musicians at Ganbarion wrap your sensory experience together well, with jarring strings and riffs ramping up boss battles delightfully.
One Piece Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition cements itself as a solid offering for One Piece fans, but serves up little to the uninitiated. While local co-op play may invite some to test the pirate-infested waters, a frustrating camera system may bug an unfamiliar player. With fun combat and a unique story to the One Piece franchise, as well as all DLC from previous editions, it may be the definitive way to experience Eiichiro Oda’s wonderful world of pirate plunder.