One Piece Unlimited Adventure - WII - Review
For anyone who has ever picked up an oversized issue of Shonen Jump or bought the manga series at their local book store, fans of the pirate-themed One Piece have been waiting to get their hands on a game that truly measures up to the series. We’ve seen games that feature the likeable crew of the Merry Go before but none has really taken us out to sea in an adventure that captured the feel of the manga or its excellent Cartoon Network animated series. That is, of course, until One Piece: Unlimited Adventure for the Nintendo Wii.
For those unfamiliar with Shonen Jump’s One Piece, the series revolves around a young pirate named Monkey D. Luffy who accidentally ate a cursed Gum-Gum Fruit that gave him the ability to stretch his limbs Reed Richards-style. This, of course, doesn’t stop him from being a good pirate captain or his quest to become King of the Pirates. Along for the ride is a crew of eight as they search for a legendary treasure known only as “One Piece.” And so, in the game’s single-player Adventure Mode, we find Luffy and his band of Straw Hat Pirates at sea … that is, until a mysterious island rises from out of nowhere.
Unlimited Adventure tells an original tale that finds the crew stranded on this massive island and it’s up to Luffy and the others to discover its secrets. The island is massive enough that you will be setting camp just so you can have a home base to return to after exploring the various locales within the island’s lush tropical surroundings. It’s a good thing Luffy has the aid of the spunky Nami, the self-proclaimed “ladies man” named Sanji and the always serious Roronoa. Even the curious-looking Tony Tony Chopper is present to make this a game that brings all the manga and anime’s familiar faces to life. You can even switch between crewmembers at any point in the game (via the minus button) so if you desire a powerful fighter such as Nami you can select her on the fly.
Exploration is the heart of Unlimited Adventure mainly because - for the most part - past One Piece games lacked the sense of taking part of a typical One Piece adventure and concentrating more on fights and mini-games. Thankfully, Unlimited Adventure has plenty of both as well as the mentioned exploration of the mysterious island. You’ll take part in battles because, hey, there are fights aplenty on the show as well as the manga but you will also try out some mini-games using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk attachment. The mini-games are even fun. You’ll be fishing for food in this game and you’ll be moving the Wii Remote as if you were casting an actual line and pulling when you get a nibble. You’ll be catching bugs with a net and using a pickaxe to dig up treasure all while making the appropriate motions for each action. It might not be inventive (Link goes fishing in his last Zelda adventure on the Wii, after all) but these mini-games are fun diversions.
While you’re not fishing or creating your own items (e.g. you can make your own weapons or recovery items), you’re fighting off the island inhabitants or other pirates. Using a familiar fighting-game formula, battles are simply button-mashing events that lack style and - thanks to the controls - grace. This makes fighting a bit on the awkward side and this is too bad since each of the eight starting lineup of character has his or her own unique set of combos and moves. Luffy, for example, has his Gum Gum Storm that allows him to really dish out the damage while Chopper has the ability to inflate and cause more damage as a huge brawler. The more patient gamer can try to make due with the controls but those who just don’t want to take the time to feel comfortable with them will find battles a tad frustrating.
Still, even with this glaring fault, the decent length of Adventure Mode will give gamers plenty to do. Also, the fact that Unlimited Adventure makes more of an effort to give gamers a One Piece experience that would fit comfortable as an episode from the show or a few chapters from the manga is a major plus. Aside from the single-player game there is also multiplayer action to be had and the good news is that you can unlock up to 40 extra characters to use in the game’s two-player Vs. Mode as well as Survival Mode. These multiplayer game mode types are nothing new to anyone who has ever picked up a fighting game so if you’re looking for something new you are out of luck, mates.
On the graphics front, this is a fine-looking One Piece game with visuals that mimic the anime and manga’s artistic style. This game actually sports some sharper visuals and prettier lighting but then again it suffers from some muddy textures that would feel right at home on the PS2. Still, it’s hard to complain when the character models look the way they should and the animation is smooth to perfection. Even the special effects are wonderfully flashy … just like on the show.
The game’s sound also makes quite a decent impression seeing as the voice cast from the show handles the voices for each of the main characters. There’s plenty of voiceover work in this game so you’ll always feel like you’re watching an episode and that’s a very good thing. Even the music seems to come from the show and that’s another highlight.
One Piece: Unlimited Adventure could have been a truly spectacular game if it wasn’t for the wonky fighting mechanics but this is still a solid Wii title that does justice to the Shonen Jump series. As a fan of the series, I was enthralled with the huge environments and fun mini-games this game includes but as a fighting game enthusiast, I was deeply disappointed. Still, this game balances the two nicely and hardcore One Piece fans will certainly like this one well enough.
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Luffy and the rest of the cast will find plenty to see and do in the game’s original story mode and exploring the island is half the fun in this new adventure. There’s a Vs. Mode as well as Survival Mode but it’s not as fun as the main adventure thanks to its somewhat shaky fighting controls.
Some muddy textures aside, this is actually a good-looking title that does a great job of attempting to capture the look of the manga and anime. Just the character models alone will not fail to impress and then there’s the decent special effects that light up the screen.
One Piece fans will love the fact that the English dub voice acting cast is present and accounted for throughout the game and the show’s music also adds to the experience. Somehow, even the sound effects feel right out of the show.
The island isn’t exactly deserted so you’ll be facing off against a number of scurvy seadogs but Luffy and the others have enough skills and combos to take them down. I’m also embarrassed to admit this but fishing and bug catching were more challenging than the battles.
If you’re a One Piece fan then hang on to your Straw Hat because you’ll be playing as everyone from Nami to Usopp and even the pint-sized reindeer named Chopper. There’s even more characters you can unlock and play for Vs. Mode and Survivor Mode so there’s no shortage of characters to play.
The game only allows two-players to take each another on in a number of multiplayer game modes including Team Battle where you can pick a second character to make up your two-man team. These modes are simple and it’s nothing we haven’t already seen before in other games of this caliber.
Unlimited Adventure is an impressive first try to bring the One Piece license to the Nintendo Wii and this is game fans of the series will actually enjoy. Yes, the battles lack finesse but when it comes to bringing the series to life this is one game that will not fail fans of the Straw Hat Pirates.