Almost, but not quite. That's the skinny on One Piece: Unlimited Adventure. For the 60-or-so hours it'll take you to complete the story mode, you'll command the characters from the One Piece anime and manga franchise, explore a beautiful 3D rendered island, and have a free pass to beat the stuffing out of the soldiers that frequently get in your way. There's just one catch. The majority of those 60-hours will be spent gathering rocks, bugs, fish, and other silly bits of junk.
The game opens with Luffy fishing a magical jewel out of the ocean. As his luck mandates, he and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirate gang then end up stranded on an uncharted island. They soon learn that the island contains a powerful treasure that can make their greatest wishes come true. So, being greedy pirates, they set out to find the treasure. In doing so, they also discover that the island seems to be populated with all of the villains they've ever encountered.
Just like the worlds in Nintendo's Legend of Zelda games, the island in One Piece: Unlimited Adventure is made up of a series of interconnected areas that you gradually unlock during the course of the story. Every twenty minutes or so, you'll have the opportunity to watch in awe as a collapsing dinosaur skeleton or an epic rockslide provides a bridge to someplace new. The lush greenery and impressive water effects are easy on the eyes, and the string-heavy music provides a soothing undercurrent for everything you'll see and do.
Combat is repetitive, but otherwise agreeable. Soldiers armed with swords, guns and grenades seem to occupy every clearing, which gives you the chance to unleash your chosen character's attacks by tapping the buttons and shaking the Wii Remote. The characters learn new attacks as they gain experience levels, and you can swap between any of the eight Straw Hat Pirates (and their goofy attack arsenals) at any time. You'll appreciate having eight full health stores when fighting the bosses, since they're bigger, stronger, and more mobile than the lesser goons.
Luffy's magical jewel is the key to unlocking new areas. Like Luffy, though, it needs to eat before it'll do its job. What does a magical jewel eat? Rocks, wood, bugs, fish, and just about anything else you can collect on the island. So, every time you find a new gateway, you have to gather items to feed the jewel's hunger. Some gateways won't open unless you've collected specific items, which means more time spent tracking those pieces down.
Back at the camp, you can build a stove to create meals that will boost your stats, as well as tools that you can use to fish, to catch bugs, and to dig for some of the items you'll eventually need. Of course, you also need to collect junk to build those things too.
Games like this always involve some collecting and backtracking. However, One Piece: Unlimited Adventure takes the scavenger hunt approach too far. You spend way more time chopping up shrubs in search of raw materials than you ever do fighting soldiers or following the story. While that lopsided emphasis on collecting doesn't totally ruin the game, it does hamstring it to the extent that only diehard One Piece zealots will have the stamina to finish this one.
Jan 29, 2008