Not willing to waste any time, Namco Bandai Games has already nearly completed their work on One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2, sequel to the Warriors-ish manga brawler released just this past September in the US and Europe. (This despite the fact that the original Pirate Warriors covered over fifty volumes worth of Eiichiro Oda's blockbuster manga, nearly the entire series up to the current New World story arc.)
There's a reason for this speed, though: According to game producer Hisashi Koinuma, the concept for the sequel was already pretty well set in stone while they were developing the original. "The idea here was that we would recreate the story and setting in the first game," he explained in an interview published in this week's Famitsu magazine. "Then we'd pursue a more Warriors-like sort of gameplay with the second game. The sense of exhilaration still needs to be there, but we're also trying hard to create a real sense of fighting alongside the assorted allies who are on your side in the field. We've also been able to implement a lot of the requests and comments we've received from people who played the original."
"We're putting more excitement and more of a tactical element into the action," added co-producer Koji Nakajima. "It'll really blow players away, being able to send these groups of enemies flying with moves taken from the New World arc."
Pirate Warriors 2 adds a handful of new story elements (Enel, the former "god" of Skypiea in the manga, will appear as a playable character), but the real focus of this sequel seems to be squarely on gameplay. "The keyword in this project was New World-type Warriors action," Koinuma explained. "Given the 'vs. 100,000' sort of ridiculous battles you see in the story, trying to depict as many characters onscreen as possible was one of the first major hurdles we had to deal with. The stages have also been redesigned in order to make things feel more like Warriors. You've got more enemy forces plunging in midway, more events getting triggered. The stage maps have more ups and downs, more open areas, and other things to encourage that sort of action. We're also reworking the flow of combos to make it easier to break out whichever move you're trying to pull off."
The game, which Namco Bandai pegged at 80% complete, is due out March 20 for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita in Japan.