Thursday, 9 February 2012
One Piece: Unlimited Cruise SP makes its 3DS debut this week. Whilst the animé-style game series is extremely popular franchise in Japan spanning not only videogames, but also manga comics and a cartoon series too, the One Piece games have failed to attract as large a following in the West. With this in mind, the release of this game on the 3DS came as a bit of a surprise.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this game or its characters, One Piece: Unlimited Cruise SP tells the story of The Straw Hat Pirates and their Captain, Monkey D. Luffy, who all exhibit some form of supernatural power, and who are on a quest to find the so-called 'One Piece' treasure.
The 3DS version is supposed to be a port of two original Wii titles: Unlimited Cruise 1: Treasure Beneath The Waves, and Unlimited Cruise 2: Awakening of a Hero, which were released in Japan onto a single cartridge, under the title Unlimited Cruise: Special Edition. However, the second episode had to be dropped from the European version due to certain 'localisation issues'.
So, (we hear you cry,) the European version has got only one game on it, but its still a pretty good game, right? The short answer to this is 'No.' Although the game starts well enough with some brilliantly animated cutscenes and some slightly witty dialogue between the main characters, the overall enjoyment factor soon wane the further one progresses through the gameplay.
One of the main reasons for this is that all nine of the game's playable characters (which each have their own special abilities,) have difficult and somewhat awkward moves for the player to perform during battles.
For example, Usopp, has a slingshot which can be used to fire all kinds of ammunition at his enemies, but the slingshot in the game barely seems to make a mark on the enemies and seems difficult to control, which soon becomes tiresome. What's worse, is that the same thing applies to each of the nine characters in turn regardless of their individual abilities.
In addition, progress through the game is slow (to the point of being mind-numbing) and centres around the idea of collecting every single item which has been scattered around the island in order to rid the characters of large, but pointless obstacles, such as a Giant Pillar, so that they can complete the game.
This activity is then heavily hampered by the constant re-spawning of enemies, who, (despite being defeated the first time,) seem to reappear each time the character re-enters a previously played environment to search for the objects they need.
The game does try to redeem itself through its occasional Boss Battles, but even here, the game ends up being frustrating at best as the main protaganists find themselves at the mercy of several ultra-powerful enemy attacks, which usually results in a 'loss' for the playable character.
In conclusion, although fans of the One Piece franchise may find the sharp 3D environments and witty dialogue enjoyable for a short time, the gameplay leaves little to be desired and will quickly cause players to lose interest. Although we hate to say it, this really is a game to avoid. Overall rating: 3/10.