Released a couple of times in a couple of platforms, One Piece Ultimate World Red Deluxe is no foreigner to the gaming world. But as it sees a release on the Nintendo Switch, can the game bring about new and unique experiences on the Nintendo Switch? Or will it just be another re-release? Read on to find out.
General Game Play
Those who have played the game three years ago on the Nintendo 3DS or the Wii U, you would already be familiar with One Piece Ultimate World Red on the Switch. Nothing much has changed from the game. It is still the beat em’ up/hack and slash game that you know, infused with a story and central “overworld”. The only difference here is that all the DLCs are included, and the game got a fresher coat of paint.
The game has two modes, there’s the Story mode, which is the main campaign, and Battle Coliseum mode, a battle/tournament mode where you work your way to the top and be Pirate King. Still, combat never changes; The core fighting mechanics remains same for both modes. Spam a combination of X and Y to inflict huge damage on the enemy forces. Most fights are mindless, with nothing much to think about, just fast finger work. On the other hand, boss fights might require more dodging and running around.
Story Mode Gameplay
I’m not a One Piece follower, I’ve seen bits and pieces of the franchise before, but never really got into it. However, for this review, I’ve enlisted the help of a good friend of mine to give his take on the authenticity of the game, and he was very approving.
From his opinion, the game stays true to its source. Characters were well fleshed out, staying accurate and distinct from each other. Each character has their own special skills to play around with as well. Just as Luffy has his extendable arms, others such as Franky, Usopp and the rest of the crew have their own specialities matching their skills in the main series. If you are a fan of One Piece, you will definitely enjoy the in-depth exploration of the characters.
However, if you’re a newcomer to the franchise like me, there is nothing much to fear either. The story is carved out distinct from the franchise at large and is a largely self-contained story, meaning that you can follow the campaign even if you do not follow the series at large.
Still, a followable story does not mean a good story. Missions mostly take a similar formula, go to an area, hack your way to the boss and then go back to the overworld to start another one. At one point, you are even expected to do the dreaded “go back and revisit places to collect items” quest. That is likely to be hard for any fan or non-fan to chew. If there is any positive, at least you get to re-explore the locations as another character (which sometimes unlock previously locked areas).
A part of the story campaign is bug catching and fishing. I know not what is the big deal about it, but apparently, it is quite big from my friend’s reaction. (Insert: Okay… I was told that Luffy and Ussop catches bugs and fishes as a hobby in the main series, so it’s kind of a big thing and it is canon) It is a good distraction from time to time during the missions but largely avoidable if you wish not to partake in the juvenile activity… until you have to revisit the area to catch it as a quest item that is.
One of the features of the Nintendo Switch is its detachable Joy-cons. One Piece Ultimate World Red Deluxe does support one Joy-con, as well as, local split-screen co-op play.
Starting off with one Joy-con play, all I can say is to not expect any miracles. Although the concept of playing on one Joy-con is great, freeing you to play anywhere, it is hardly the best way to play. And I don’t fault Bandai Namco for it. The lack of a second joystick on the single Joy-con makes controlling the camera a huge issue and sudden decrease in buttons needed a bit of adjustment to know where some of the functions are. Even so, they are largely consistent with the two Joy-con play, meaning you can hop into single joy-con co-op readily with the basics.
Split-Screen co-op mode is also not without its weakness, however. Although you get to bring a friend along, you get to bring him on a so-so experience. As the developers opt to keep the field of view consistent, the screen is cut in a way that you have 1/3 of the screen being used to display a useless backdrop. Immediately the screen seems small. In the game’s defence, 2/3 of a 50″ screen is still a lot of room to look around, but the co-op is virtually unplayable on the Nintendo Switch’s 6.2″ screen.
I know a 6.2″ real estate is not easy to work with, however, had the developers maximised the screen use of co-op mode instead of letterboxing the view, the game may just be a bit more enjoyable. It really is a downer, especially when you consider that the whole purpose of being able to play with one Joy-con is to be able to bring the game out with you to play with a friend, yet the screen just isn’t big enough for you to enjoy it.
Graphics and Audio
If the earlier part of the review was a huge letdown to you, then it’s time to cheer up because this is where One Piece Ultimate World Red Deluxe shines.
Immediately, off the bat, you would notice the vibrant colours of the game. Its cutscenes were well crafted and voice acting superbly done. Running around in the overworld and locations is buttery smooth, at 60 frames-per-second. The graphics of the game is a stunner and eye candy to both fans and newcomers.
I would say the same goes for the game’s audio as well. My walking One Piece encyclopedia of a friend even commended that the game’s audio soundtrack matches the same vibe and energy as the sounds one would find in the beloved anime series itself, keeping closely aligned to the consistency and authenticity of the game’s source material.
One Piece Ultimate World Red Deluxe is a huge service to the fans of One Piece. Fans seeking to delve deeper into One Piece lore will definitely find joy in playing this game despite its shortcomings. However, to the everyday gamer, the game may not exactly be your bowl of soup. Gameplay though enjoyable at times is weakened by a just passable story arc. Even Co-op, enjoyable on a big screen is hardly any good when on the go. Still, the game has its merits and is a textbook example of a game that is true to its source material. The vibrant visuals and smooth gameplay is something that every hack and slash game should emulate.
If you’re a One Piece fan, this game will be a no-brainer for you. Though if you owned the 3DS/Wii U version of the game, the level of value-add is really debatable. Should you choose to buy it, at least it comes with all the DLC, improved graphics, and… a virtually unplayable on-the-go co-op mode.
- Vibrant Graphics and Smooth Gameplay (60FPS)
- True to Source Material
- Split screen Co-op support
- Mediocre storyline and repetitive environment
- Co-op virtually unplayable in Tabletop mode
Verdict: A Niche Bowl of Soup for an Exclusive Group of Diners
A review code for One Piece Ultimate World Red Deluxe was provided by Bandai Namco for the purpose of this review.