Remember back when Japanese Animation or “Anime” as it’s called now, was just considered a fad. Just something that the kids were into for the moment but would pass due to “the next great thing” If you don’t remember that, then you probably grew up watching Dragon ball Z on the now famous “Toonami” block on Cartoon Network. Once that show reached mainstream, Americans young and old came out and displayed proudly there love of anime. Now you can’t turn on the TV without seeing Pokémon, or Yu-Gi- Oh, or any number of Japanese cartoons brought stateside.
One Piece was released in the states in back in 2004, and while it doesn’t have the same fan base that Pokémon or DBZ has it is still very popular in its own right. So popular in fact that Namco decided to pick up the franchise and make games based off the show. The latest is One Piece: Unlimited Adventure, for the Nintendo Wii, which just like in the show sees you assuming the role of Monkey D. Luffy who is made of rubber due to him eating the “devils fruit”. In the show you are tasked with trying to find the legendary “One Piece” you see. Years ago, the fearsome pirate king Gold Roger was executed, leaving a huge pile of treasure and the famous “One Piece” behind. Whoever claims the “One Piece” will be named the new pirate king.
One Piece: Unlimited Adventure for Wii takes a different approach for the series, one with a sharper emphasis on storyline and exploration.
You can choose from various characters over the course of your quest. You start with the loosely limbed Luffy but join up with several others from the show over the duration of your journey. Each character has his or her individual techniques and attacks, all of which come in handy for fighting off groups of enemies and the occasional boss. In addition, you earn new moves, acquired by meeting certain criteria during combat.
In the game, you’ll do two things – backtrack for items and beat up rocks and trees so you can find energy to fill up your mysterious power gem. The gem needs to “eat” different energy in order to power up. You can’t access certain areas of the island without this energy, and mindlessly gathering it by beating up innocent decor gets old. Things will start to really take off when you are fighting actually enemies. As it is with most Wii games, it just seems that only Nintendo can truly get the most out of its motion controlled system. Unfortunately this makes One Piece’s motion controls feel more tacked on than intuitive. For example in order to do a super attack you just shake the “Wii-mote”, not to mention that when you are in combat, the game tells you which buttons to push in order to pull off your “break move” which will clear the screen of baddies for you. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is rewarding when you uncover those kinds of things on your own, instead of having it handed to you.
Single player mode isn’t a complete washout. The “Item Creation” system is a nice touch, even though it’ll probably appeal more to hardcore fans of the series than the average player. You also get to fish every now and then using the Wii remote. It’s not as good as fishing in Twilight Princess, but it gives you something to occupy yourself between beating up trees, and fighting bad pirates. The game also has a multiplayer feature that can help you out when you are bored with energy collecting. The multiplayer options, include survival and versus modes. Up to forty fighters are available, each with individual techniques and powers. You can also set up team battles, in case you feel powerful enough to take on an army. Sadly what is lacking is support for online WiFi battles, which would have taken the multi-player to a whole new level, but as it stands it feels merely sufficient.
The game’s presentation isn’t bad, although it definitely has its drawbacks. The visuals look sharp when compared to some of the other Wii games, complete with detailed shadowing, animation and facial expressions (a lot of the facial expressions will have you laughing just because they are all done in true form with the anime). At least the island, divided into a multi-sectional hub, looks good enough to make it worth exploring. The audio consists of high-pitched voice samples (done by the cast of the anime show which is very well done), a mostly forgettable musical score and average sound effects.
One Piece: Unlimited Adventure is not a bad game by any means; it is just not going to appeal to those who are not fans of the show. If you are a fair-weather fan of the show you might find enough here to warrant a purchase. It does have its share of problems, but if you can get past those mostly minor issues. You will be ready to try and track down that “One Piece” in no time!