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One Piece: Unlimited Adventure


Ah, the anime video game market. It's so hard to figure out going in whether you're getting a great experience or a bust. The track record for the industry has been anything but favorable with roughly a 50/50 success rate. The funny thing is that so many titles are released in Japan that are not even licensed here. That means we let the obscure and cult games slip us by and store shelves are flooded with popular titles such as Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, and One Piece.

Historically speaking the PlayStation 2 was a hotbed of activity for anime licensed material. With that being said it shouldn't come as a surprise that Nintendo's GameCube was much the same. The publisher's kid-friendly mentality served the market well and as such you'd expect the Wii to do the same. One Piece: Unlimited Adventure has recently been released as the franchise's first next-generation outing.

For my anime dollar the One Piece series has been a mixed blessing though I must admit that I'm excited for FUNimation's acquisition of the license. Hopefully they'll do the series more justice than VIZ did, but I digress. The story here takes place at some point during the course of the show and features Luffy and company out at sea and running out of supplies. While fishing the monkey man comes across an orb that causes an island to appear and from there the rest of the game takes place as you must acquire more supplies and explore for treasure and whatnot.

One Piece: Unlimited Adventure doesn't change preconceptions and it certainly doesn't push any boundaries. The story is straightforward enough for newcomers but mainly relegated for fans of the franchise. Does the rest of the game prove to be any more successful?

Gameplay


Bucking the trend somewhat set for anime themed games, One Piece: Unlimited Adventure isn't just a blasé fighting mockup. Instead, we receive a sturdy adventure component that actually outshines the versus elements. If you're a fan of anime games then you'll instantly recognize that as a rarity and to be quite honest that's one of the feathers in this title's cap. If you're coming to this title as a One Piece fan (which you most likely are) then you undoubtedly have had your fill of Power Stone-like brawls full of frantic battles and power-ups. Wouldn't a full on adventure be so much better? Yep, I thought so too.

With exploration being the main attraction it's safe to say that Unlimited Adventure winds up feeling like an actual episode of the show more than any previous title has. Luffy and crew will be spending a fair amount of time on this island and making your way around is half the battle. Various pitfalls and obstacles are placed in your way as you make your way through the story. Areas of each stage provide a puzzle or challenge that must be overcome in order to proceed. Sometimes the solution is simply but other times it can be rather complex. More often than not though you're going to be required to head back to camp and create an item which means spending time scavenging for components. Lucky for you there are plenty of enemies to beat up and things to interact with.

As you'd expect combat is a mainstay of Unlimited Adventure and you're basically going to be traveling from one fight to the next. The battles here are much more open than you'd expect to find in an anime themed game but they don't exactly break the mold. Characters essentially have a select move list and for the most part you're just going to be button mashing your way from start to finish. A somewhat clunky interface means you'll be on the receiving end of some cheap hits and there are a few points of frustration there. The overall fighting system is good though and the ability to swap out characters whenever you want to is a definite plus.

While I did like the structure of the game and the fighting was definitely a plus I must say that variety doesn't flourish in this title. Constant backtracking makes the game drag and the fact that enemies spawn countless times doesn’t help matters. You'll spend so much time hitting a road block and having to fight your way back to camp in order to figure out what you need to do. The additions of uninspired motion sensitive mini-games like fishing and bug catching don't help matters either. As a Wii title One Piece: Unlimited Adventure feels a little tired though as an entry into the franchise it gains some favorable praise.

And just in case you're coming to this Adventure looking to fight a friend you're in luck. Unlimited Adventure includes a versus mode with a ton of characters to pick from. Comparatively the system here isn't as solid as previous installments but then again this isn't supposed to be a fighting game. It's an adventure game through to the end and it's a solid weekend rental. If you're a One Piece fan you'll get a kick out of exploring the island and hanging out with Luffy and the gang but anyone looking for a fulfilling experience will be left wanting.

Graphics


Graphically speaking you never know what you're going to get with a game based on an anime. Sometimes they look like the show they represent and other times it's a slim resemblance at best. Thankfully One Piece: Unlimited Adventure gets the design part down pat. Luffy, Nami, Usopp, Sanji, and the rest all look the part and I must say that the game does a terrific job of presenting the anime. Bright colors also help to spruce things up a bit here though I'm not going to lie and say that the design and textures are impressive.

Levels tend to be relatively bland by comparison and textures can sometimes look like they belong on the PlayStation 2. I get that the Wii isn't the technical powerhouse that the 360 and PS3 are but it is still capable of so much more than what we see in Unlimited Adventure. Overall it's a fine looking One Piece title but it's not going to impress the socks off anyone.

Sound


Like the artistic design of the game's characters the audio for One Piece is authentic down the line. Voice actors from the English dub are present plus sound effects and music have been pulled right from the show. The technical quality is pretty decent as well with a nice presence on the soundstage and no flaws to speak of. On the whole this is one of the better anime titles I have played as far as the audio is concerned.

Conclusion


If you're a One Piece fan then you'll definitely want to check out Unlimited Adventure. I applaud the developers for taking the series in a different route and creating a full-fledged adventure here. It feels like One Piece, it looks like One Piece, and it sounds like One Piece. Sure the gameplay can get a little tiresome what with all the backtracking and the controls don't feel "quite" right but these flaws aside this is still a solid rental for a weekend.