One Piece: Unlimited Adventure is an action adventure game based on the One Piece manga and anime series. With the freedom to switch between characters at will, you'll assume the roles of captain Monkey D. Luffy and six other members of the Straw Hat Pirates' crew as they attempt to escape from a mysterious island. We recently had an opportunity to spend some time with a near-finished version of the game and came away impressed that we were able to have a good time with it despite knowing very little about the aforementioned source material.
Before taking the controls in One Piece: Unlimited Adventure, you'll be treated to a lengthy intro that shows how the Straw Hat Pirates have come to be stranded on an uncharted island. It all starts when Luffy, who is fishing off the side of the boat, lands a strange blue orb while the rest of the crew searches in vain for land on the horizon. Taking his prize with him, Luffy heads up to the crow's nest and, in desperation, yells something urging any nearby islands to come out of hiding. The orb starts to glow, but before Luffy has even had a chance to return to the deck, a large island rises up out of the water nearby and launches a tsunami directly at the ship.
Luffy has no idea what has happened to the rest of the crew when he wakes up alone on the island; thus, your first job is to go and look for them. As you explore the island, you'll find that many of the paths through it are blocked by large boulders and rock formations that, because they're marked with Xs, are obviously destructible--more on those later. The first crew members you'll find are Chopper, Usopp, and Nami. The crew members have come under attack from navy sailors and need you to rescue them before they can join your playable party.
Combat in One Piece: Unlimited Adventure is pretty mindless for the most part, but because all of the characters have their own attacks, you'll find that some are better suited to certain situations than others. Most of the characters only have one basic attack the first time you use them, which is performed by pressing the A button. As you continue to use characters, you'll unlock additional moves and combos for them that require multiple presses of the attack button. In some cases, the use of the C (dash) button or some movement of the Wii Remote may be required as well. Pulling off quite spectacular-looking attacks isn't difficult at all, and you'll find that the majority of enemies offer very little challenge--at least early on.
As you locate additional members of the crew, you'll learn that a number of them have far more to offer the group than just alternate combat techniques. For example, Franky the shipwright has the ability to engineer weapons and other useful items, while Sanji the chef can use one of those items (a stove) to prepare foods that permanently increase the attributes of any crew member who eats them. Most of the ingredients needed to craft these items are readily available on the island or are dropped by enemies, though some are much harder to come by and definitely rarer than others. Incidentally, the other two playable crew members are Robin and Zoro.
Crafting can only occur at your campsite, which is also where you'll be storing most of your raw materials because there's a limit on how much you can carry while exploring the island. Excess items can be converted into energy to "feed" the mysterious blue orb that Luffy carries around with him at all times, and at certain locations, you'll find that the fully charged orb can be used to alter the island's geography--invariably creating paths to otherwise inaccessible locales. The campsite is situated in the same area where you start the game and is also where you'll need to go anytime you want to save your progress. You'll be transported there automatically after you beat most of the game's bosses so you can do just that, which is definitely a feature we welcomed even during our brief time with the game.
Gathering the materials necessary to craft the pickaxe was definitely time well spent for us on this occasion because we were able to destroy the aforementioned rocks with Xs on them and also dig holes in the ground where similar markings appeared. However, some of the rocks were too tough for our pickaxe and won't be going anywhere until we find a way to upgrade it or craft a superior one. Other items that we're disappointed not to have crafted during our time with One Piece: Unlimited Adventure on this occasion include a fishing rod and a bug net which, among other things, will be used to catalog the island's wildlife (insects, lizards, and fish) in the reference area of your journal.
In addition to the story mode that we were playing, One Piece: Unlimited Adventure will feature a combat-oriented survival mode, as well as a versus mode for two players. We look forward to bringing you more information on those features closer to the game's release date.