In the developer diary, One Piece Odyssey producer Katsuaki Tsuzuki is joined by composer Motoi Sakuraba and One Piece editor-in-chief at Weekly Shonen Jump Ken Takano, who discuss how Bandai Namco is working with ILCA to create the game, One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda’s involvement, the game’s score, and more, all while sharing a first look at the gameplay systems including combat and speical features such as “Scramble Area Battle” and “Dramatic Scenes.”
Get the developer diary and full transcript below.
Katsuaki Tsuzuki, Producer: “I’m [Katsuaki] Tsuzuki, the producer of One Piece Odyssey. We received many reactions and expectations after the first announcement trailer. We also received several comments asking to know more about the game, so I’d like to take this time to dive in and share some fascinating points about it.”
Tsuzuki: “As mentioned during my interview for the first announcement, we developed this title with the concept of an ‘epic adventure to experience the One Piece world’ in mind. To make this come to life, we focused on developing a game that captures the drama, adventure, and battle elements unique to One Piece. We spent a lot of time making sure that the world of One Piece that users experience in the game was built to make these unique elements immersive.
“The subtitle, ‘Let’s travel to the heart of memories,’ from the first trailer holds a special meaning to the game’s concept. Although we can’t share the meaning behind it at this very moment, we still have a lot of exciting elements you can look forward to.
“So let’s get into it!”
Tsuzuki: “In the handwritten message from [One Piece creator] Mr. [Eiichiro] Oda revealed during our first announcement, it mentioned that we asked him for the game character designs three years ago. But actually, the development of this game had begun five years ago. Back when I was promoting and producing One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, the development of this title was ongoing in the background. A that time, the game’s production was about halfway through, and the scenario script had just been completed.
“This title falls under the JRPG genre, so we though the adventurous plot the players experience will be the main pulling point of the game. Therefore, we worked hard and spent a lot of time on this and started the production of the scenario when the early to mid-part of the ‘Whole Cake Island Arc’ was serialized in the original work.
“Once the general framework of the scenario came together, we contacted Mr. Oda for the character designs. That was back in 2019.”
Ken Takano, One Piece 10th Editor-in-Chief at Weekly Shonen Jump: “About three to four years ago when One Piece Odyssey was in its initial concept stage, Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. approached us about producing a new One Piece title. Upon checking the setting and storyline, I felt that the work was very much in the style of One Piece and well crafted. Of course, Mr. Oda also had the opportunity to see the setting, storyline, and video footage of the game in production. At that time, Mr. Oda became extremely interested in the game, which led to his decision to design two original characters for it.
“The characters that were born were Adio and Lim. In addition to them, Mr. Oda also designed new animals for the game, such as the Leviathan and Dry Penguin.”
Tsuzuki: “In addition to the support from Mr. Oda on the character designs, there are various aspects that make this title attractive. The development team created a way to experience the adventures of One Piece based on the background and artwork unique to One Piece.
“We are working together with ILCA, a superb partner, to create a fascinating world from scratch and incorporate it into a JRPG. As shared in the beginning, we’ve put a lot of work in building up the world in line with the spirit of One Piece. In Waford, where the main adventure takes place, we created the design and setting from various aspects of the One Piece universe. We paid close attention to all details, down to the very clouds in the sky. We reproduced the sky with uniquely shaped clouds from the original work to increase the immersion into the One Piece world for players.
“Also, to build the world of One Piece in 3D, buildings and props were independently designed and modeled in detail, just like the various characters that appear in the game. The contours, body shapes, ages, genders, and costumes were based off the original work and animation to make sure the characters accurately represent the world of One Piece. To add animations not only to Luffy, but also to Lim and Adio which Mr. Oda created, we put great care into the picture creation and creativity.
“One Piece characters are known to have overly dramatic facial expressions, so we reworked them many times to properly represent their facial expressions on a 3D model. When considering our goal of recreating the world of One Piece in 3D, I believe that we were able to achieve it, so we hope you are eager to discover it yourself.
“Oh, and additionally, we wanted the original characters designed for the game by Mr. Oda and Luffy to be able to move around freely in a well crafted adventurous setting, therefore we prepared adventure and battle systems full of One Piece twists.
A Unique One Piece JRPG
Tsuzuki: “One Piece Odyssey is a JRPG with areas that can be explored, and while on the field, various opponents will be walking around. As you switch between the Straw Hat Crew to move along their adventure, battles will begin as they cross paths with roaming opponents. Of course, players can also avoid combat by avoiding contact with the opponent.
“Not only can the player switch between members of the Straw Hat Crew, each member has a unique ability in line with their power. For example, Luffy can perform actions with his stretchy arms, Zoro can cut his way through obstacles, and Chopper can use his miniature body to get through narrow passages. Taking advantage of their unique characteristics during your adventure will be essential to traverse open areas and take on dungeons and other challenges.
“In fact, Waford, the stage of this adventure, is dotted with mysterious ruins and underground areas that have a meaning and connection to the game’s plot. We’re preparing an experience where taking advantage of each crew member’s unique characteristics is essential for your adventure. Just like the original world of One Piece, something extraordinary is waiting to be unveiled.
“Of course, players will explore more than just dungeons and ruins, but we don’t want to reveal too much yet.
“While adventuring different places, battles can happen. For this game, the battle system is based on a classic turn-based command battle. Until now, most One Piece games have been in the action genre, which is a fascinating experience too, but the battle system for this title is built for you to experience the thrill of ‘adventuring with the Straw Hat Crew’ and overcoming opponents by taking advantage of each crew member’s unique abilities.
“Through this process, you also experience the diverse stories of the One Piece world. We believe it is a very compatible battle system. Also, the turn-based command system combined with the various unique characteristics of each Straw Hat Crew member makes for great gameplay. It fits the genre well and allows for an experience that players won’t get tired of.
“For example, the battles are based on an element called ‘Scramble Area Battles.’ In this system, battles are divided into several areas, and various opponents and combat-ready crew members will be randomly assigned to each of them. By optimizing the positioning of the battlefield and countering the powers and skills of the opponents, the player can always find a way to win by taking advantage of the crew’s attributes and special skills.
“Battle sequences also have a random element called a ‘Dramatic Scene.’ This is a game system in which players are challenged to overcome an unexpected situation that could randomly occur. For example, Sanji being unable to attack because he is surrounded by women, or Usopp being surrounded by opponents. Various and diverse constraints or events can happen, and greater rewards can be earned if the player successfully works through them. This system is designed to be one of the most exciting aspects of the game.
“We have prepared an experience that players can enjoy as a true console game of One Piece, with even the ability to use coordinated attacks when certain conditions are met. While the game is quite user-friendly, it’s also enjoyable for One Piece fans as well as those who love JRPGs, and has a battle system that can only be experienced in this distinctive work.”
Motoi Sakuraba, Composer: “Mr. Tsuzuki, who I had worked with in the past, told me there will be a new RPG game and asked if I could produce the music for it. So I said, ‘Let’s do it!,’ and went to have a meeting with him. That’s when I first found out that the new RPG was going to be a One Piece game. I never dreamed of being part of such a big title, so I was extremely happy to be able to take part.
“The challenging part, or rather the part that took a lot of time, was the main theme music. I took a lot of time in creating a simple and memorable melody. And the fun part about this title was that it made me feel like I was traveling to different places, so I was able to create a rather wide range of music, in terms of genres, such as ethnic style and orchestral style. And this was really fun and challenging for me.
“We also recorded the music with a band this time. The staff had even stronger feelings for One Piece, and I remember them excitingly playing the instruments and having fun, which also made me even more excited.
“I worked very hard on the music and made it so that the players can immerse themselves in the game, but I would appreciate it if you could please take the time to listen to the music too. Also, we used a lot of raw and rare sounds, so I would be grateful if you could play the game with a high quality speaker, if possible!”
Tsuzuki: “I’ve now shared even more details about One Piece Odyssey. How was it? Of course, what I’ve shared is still only the tip of the iceberg! We’ll continue to update you on the plot and game systems that will allow you to experience both an authentic and new world of One Piece, so please look forward to it. Thank you!”