Even if your only experience with anime or manga is accidentally clicking on a Miyazaki movie while browsing Netflix, you’ve probably still heard of One Piece. The sheer size of the franchise at this point only rivals the length of the story itself. When your manga series has more than 40 associated video game releases in the past 17 years, not every title is bound to be a hit. The original One Piece: Unlimited World Red was lackluster action RPG when it was originally released, and the new Deluxe Edition doesn’t change that; it basically slaps a new coat of paint on the character models, sprinkles a hefty helping of unexciting DLC and hopes you’ll forget that the core gameplay feels dated at best and absolutely pointless at worst.
Oh yeah, remember that one time when Luffy went to Punk Hazard? …No? Well get ready to not remember it all over again.
If you’re desperately looking for new Nintendo Switch content this week and don’t mind listening to the same voice lines repeated constantly while mashing attack buttons, then this grind of a game might be for you. The Unlimited World Red series is part of an ongoing side story set in the One Piece universe. You control Monkey D. Luffy, a man with rubber powers trying to become King of the Pirates by finding the legendary treasure One Piece, along with his colorful and ridiculous pirate crew.
If you’re not a fan of One Piece or haven’t played the Unlimited series before this point, good luck on trying to understand anything that’s going on. The game does you absolutely no favors in terms of bringing you up to speed on character relationships or the setting. What really drives this point home is the main story mode, which plays out like a “One Piece Battles Greatest Hits” montage instead of introducing new enemies or allies that don’t require years of background knowledge of the series.
You’ll get to fight against a bunch of major antagonists that Luffy trounced in the main series, except they’ll be a lot stronger for some reason and possess an entire rainbow of health bars for you to button mash through. Don’t worry about experimenting with attack combos or abilities, either; you can basically use the same combo constantly through the whole game. The only time I ever needed to stop pressing X is when I had to mash B to dodge incredibly telegraphed attacks. In between tedious fights, random backtracking, and struggling with the overly sensitive camera, you’ll also get to enjoy some half-baked RPG elements like fishing and bug catching minigames with wildly scaling difficulty, punching things for resources and talking with random characters.
You’ll also get the chance to pointlessly build up the hub city of Transtown, which will serve as a needless buffer between fights that will let you relax and enjoy some menu navigation. The only reason why you’ll ever feel motivated to build up the city is when the game forces you to, which is always fun. Despite all of the games flaws, the characters still do manage to maintain some of the charm and humor of the anime and manga series. The art style and combat animations of the Straw Hat Pirate crew also look great and really captures each character’s personality and fighting style.
I really wish I had more positive things to say about this game, because I personally love the One Piece series. The main problem is that the RPG elements and combat of One Piece:Unlimited World Red feel like they come from a shoddy action JRPG from 2004, and the original came out in 2014 in the U.S. Asking consumers to drop another $40 for a lazy remaster with forgettable DLC additions and no core gameplay changes is just a waste of time for everyone involved.