The manga favorite, One Piece, is setting sail and gaining a larger and larger worldwide audience with the expanded release of the Bandai Namco title, One Piece Unlimited World Red . Originally released in Japan for the 3DS last November, the popular RPG has been confirmed for release world-wide this year. Bandai Namco Europe Senior VP of IP Strategy, Hiroaki Ochiai, described the franchise as being a manga which is among the more successful ones they had seen, deserving of AAA adaptations. In his statement, he indicated that they had made the decision to partner with Ganbarion to create original settings and situations for the new series. He praised the level of skill and knowledge that they brought to the game to create an environment which depicts in detail the One Piece universe. He said that the game would feature a previously unreleased in-game scenario.
Chris Gilbert of Bandai Namco Games America described the sailing worldwide popularity of the One Piece manga as “astonishing,” crediting the Otaku community for supporting all of the previous games and precipitating the expanded release of the Unlimited World Red title. The western version of the game will see an expanded number of consoles, adding PS3, Wii U and PS Vita to the release. The Vita and Wii U versions, however, will be restricted to digital download in north America.
The release of the game so quickly after last month’s One Piece Romance Dawn and September’s Pirate Warriors 2 is a positive sign for western Otaku who have been lobbying for these manga and anime-based games to find their way out of Japan. The current hope is that this may be paving the way for more games of the sort to come west.
Unlimited World Red is an RPG, and the sequel to the previously localized Unlimited Cruise, released in two games, (chapter 1 and 2) and Unlimited Adventure. The latter of these was also localized in North America. The game received fairly good reviews in Japan. The console versions have two-player, split screen options, and the handhelds have a four-player, console link multi-player. It follows an original story by manga creator, Eiichiro Oda, taking place in Part Two of the series.
The devoted fan base caught wind of the possibility of this game’s western release when a trademark was created for the game a few months ago. It was not the only trademark put in at the time. The other one was for a game called Awakened Legends Vs., which has been reported as a localized name for J-stars Victory vs.; another title western audiences have been hoping to see distributed outside of Japan. With the announcement of the first trademark being used, expectations have been raised that the western release for J-stars in not far behind. Between the assortment of One Piece games, the continued release of the Dragonball Z and Naruto franchises, JoJos Bizzare Adventure, and the recently released Saint Seiya game (the first of its kind in America), Bandai Namco has opened itself up to sailing profits with these worldwide expanded releases. The Otaku community is speaking, and it looks like they are finally listening.
Commentary by Reuben Malone