Many game series can be hard to get into. Like catching up on Lost, you'll need to have been on from the beginning, while games like GTA or The Elder Scrolls you can start whenever and you'll be fine. One Piece: Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition is one of those games where you kind of need to be on it, or you'll have a hard time accepting a lot about it. And, with that, let's begin with story...
Since the One Piece universe is about a band of pirates traveling around the 'world', the story kinda is that. The Straw Hat pirates come across a raccoon, Pato, who leads them to an island. There, the crew is kidnapped, save the main character Luffy, and they fight back to get the crew, and team up to take the bad guy down. Oh, and the bad guy can make clones. As stories go, it's a 'rebuilding the team', mixed with random bouts of, as the raccoon promised, 'adventure'. It felt like an anime, but playing it felt almost tedious. The story almost took a back seat to the adventure. It wasn't a bad story, just a bit overdone and not really always there.
The graphics were all over the place. They're cel-shaded, which I always need to give a slight bump down off the bat because of how oft-putting it always makes things look, regardless of the game. But goods and bads. The good graphics in the game come from more of the cutscenier parts, or when there is a lot going on. During some of those, it actually felt like a real anime, and I actually checked to make sure I had the game and not the screener for an episode of something. It was that good and believable. Even during some of the calmer scenes, graphics look on the standard Nintendo-cartoon level from the Wii era, and it's not too bad. But then the bad – when it gets to certain scenes or gameplay, there's almost a shift. Thick black outlines come in. Characters faces stop moving, or keep the same expression. Graphics can get boxy. It's like the Wii suddenly went back to the N64. Sometimes the coloration looks like it was done with Microsoft Paint of KidPix. It was unsettling. Then when you move around the world or fight, it's shifted to Gamecube graphics. Frankly, it was all over the place, being anywhere from 'really good' to 'not good'.
Gameplay is typical RPG stuff, mixed with sandbox. Like sandbox games, you have a big world and a lot of random collection questions, and like RPG games (er JRPG), you have group fighting and combo building. It's actually a good mix, and the characters, for as ridiculous as they are, have abilities you can shape into the team you want. Again, standard JRPG stuff, but it doesn't screw it up or go off balance like some do. Fighting is limited to what you can do, and it quickly becomes using the same moves over and over again regardless. Functional, but at the same time, still pretty basic.
Controls on the PC (in my case, a laptop), were fine. A mouse would have probably been beneficial, but I worked it out well enough. Like most good games, you get used to all the buttons and controls in the first half hour or so, and after that, you only occasionally need to look down. Otherwise, you're on autopilot.. It's a port, but they ported this good.
The music is standard JRPG – full orchestra, but more moderny bits for wonder. Many parts have a more nautical beat, and when it comes down to fight, the music changes with it. Not the most inspired, but it does the job. Sound...was not as good. In addition to usual complaints like little variance and some not so great voice acting (Isn't weird how you may not speak a language, and you can still tell how wooden they are?), there are some odd sounds. Walking sounds like stomping. Fighting is more like banging something together. It works kinda, but it was distracting, at least to me.
I will say this – the frame rate on One Piece was great. Despite the graphics, everything animated as usual, with not even a hiccup or weird glitchy thing. And I was looking out for them too. I mean, mouths didn't move at all when people talked, but that was more like a technological limitation/design things. Everything from fighting to walking to the loading screens did their jobs just fine.
One Piece: Unlimited World Red Deluxe Edition had some good things going for it, but ultimately, didn't do much. You wanted more from the story, some of the characters to be more normal/stereotypical/sexist, things to feel more natural. But it failed on most fronts. Fans of the series will like it, and JRPG fans will like it because it checks every box, but gamers not into the series might have a hard time accepting or liking what it is. There's many flaws or unpolished things. Somethings it does right just fine, and other things One Piece gets wrong. I wanted better.
Final Score: 5.9 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.