by MARTY DEMAREST & r & & r & One Piece: Unlimited Adventure & r & Rated Teen; Wii & r & 2 Stars & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hen a ship full of pirates crashes onto an unexplored island, the first thing they think of is treasure. At least that's the response of the Straw Hat Pirates, the heroes of the Japanese manga One Piece that has spawned innumerable anime, movies, toys, television specials and videogames. The standard One Piece storyline has the pirates encountering an island and setting out to scavenge its treasure, which is how Unlimited Adventure begins. Unfortunately for the Straw Hat gang, most of the rest of the game is devoted to foraging for food, collecting materials needed to spruce up their camp, and taking inventory of the island's fish and insect life.
The island is also full of evil men wearing hats that say "NAVY." They keep shooting at the Straw Hat Pirates, who look like they can't be older than 18 and behave more like the Cosby Kids than pirates. The captain, Monkey Luffy, has the pinched voice and unkempt hair of adolescence, while Nami, one of the gang's two females, has the enthusiasm and mini-skirts that only the young can flaunt. That's not to say the pirates are helpless innocents. Each of them has their own fighting abilities. Zoro (the studliest, with green hair) fights using three Japanese swords simultaneously. Even Chopper, the gang's pint-sized reindeer, can transform himself into a burly monster when needed.
The Straw Hats are resourceful in other ways, too. When they find a strange plant or fish, it's likely to trigger inspiration in one of the characters, who then cooks a new meal or builds a better fishing pole. They manage to explore the island this way, converting natural resources into progress. But the only notably valuable object they wind up with is an orb that grants them access to other parts of the island, which -- aside from enemies to fight and plants to harvest -- seem devoid of treasure and lacking in entertainment.
THE GOOD: Eight different characters with eight different fighting styles, a maze-like island and an entire ecosystem that can be alchemized is a rich setup for a videogame. Giving it to the One Piece cast is a little like making a deep videogame for the Archie comic characters -- they don't change and their audience doesn't want them to change. So while developing medicines and tools from the island's raw materials gives the game a charming Swiss Family Robinson feel of do-it-yourself, it also happens according to plan, in the same order for every player.
THE BAD: I know the Wii can do better than Unlimited Adventure. The game's unattractive appearance starts with the island itself: The land is rough-hewn, with broad flat planes, straight-edged hills, and fuzzily pixelated textures pasted on top. Characters often look doubly drawn, giving off a ghost image of themselves that is slightly offset from the original. Shadows beneath flowers and plants flicker in and out of existence, and enemies pop out of thin air long after the game's music has switched to "attack imminent" mode.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A charming cast of original characters, a sprawling setting and some decent fighting action all get lumped together in a one-way adventure that provides plenty to do with no reason to do it.