By Spencer . October 24, 2008 . 12:50am
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm looks gorgeous and the graphics aren’t the only thing CyberConnect2 modified for their PlayStation 3 Naruto game. The fighting system has been upgraded to full 3D, a first for the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series. Nobu Taguchi, Localization Manger at Namco Bandai, explained to us their 3D fighting system is designed so players will be pressed into fighting each other and not hitting air. “The player character will ‘face’ an opponent based on specific actions and criteria. This ensures that players will not be simply punching open areas.”
What else did CyberConnect2 change? Read our conversation with Nobu Taguchi to find out.
You don’t have to be a Naruto fan to be impressed by the game’s graphics. How long has CyberConnect2 been developing Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm?
Nobu Taguchi, Localization Manager: CyberConnect2 has been working on the game for over 2 years. Their first goal was to ensure that the transition from the PlayStation2 to PlayStation3 would be smooth, with the overall goal of making the game as close as possible to what is shown on the anime. Creation of a special shading engine was key in making the game look and feel like the anime to the extent that players who play will feel as if they were directly interacting with anime. After that, the team went to making sure that the 2D to 3D transition would be as smooth as possible, ensuring that the playability of the game would feel just as good, if not better than the previous PlayStation2 versions. The results are stunning and many who are not even fans of the series or anime have been captivated by its beautiful look and fluidity.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm covers a wide span of the series. How does the story mode cover all of the key events from the formation of Naruto’s squad up to the Rescue Sasuke Arc?
The storyline is represented in a mode called Ultimate Mission Mode where the player will play as Naruto and experience the key points from episode 1 to 135. They will be experienced through missions where players can challenge and proceed through the game based on the storyline. At certain points, there will be specific real time rendered animation scenes to show progress and to help immerse players into the game as if being part of the anime.
This is the first time the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series is in full 3D. Why the change?
Being that the game is presented on the PlayStation 3, it was crucial to show a significant change from our PS2 efforts. Obviously, transition to 3D was a concern as there have been many games which have experienced issues in going through this change with varying results, but considering that it was going to be on the PlayStation 3, it was a necessary challenge the team had to make. Through careful planning, we believe the 3D transition has been made perfectly, ensuring that players will enjoy the same fun experienced of the PlayStation 2 versions without compromising control and playability.
When I played the game it felt like fighting takes place very much on a 2D plane. Do any characters have wide reaching horizontal moves to counter sidestepping?
The issue with 3D fighting is that due to the wide arena of battle, an amount of control is necessary to ensure players will actually be fighting the opponent without just “hitting air”. Hence, there is a special system in place to give the game maximum playability without the stress of standard 3D roam where the player character will “face” an opponent based on specific actions and criteria. This ensures that players will not be simply punching open areas (unless the opponent makes a tactical move out or uses a Substitution Jutsu which allows the player to jump out of attacks). Hence, the concept of horizontal moves as part of a basic combo is not within the game. But, there are many Jutsu which have different range of attacks, effects, damage amount, and attributes, so to a certain degree, a player who understands these moves can utilize them to help them defeat an opponent who may be using run-away tactics. Note that the game does not do “sidestepping”, but instead uses a system called Ninja Move which allows “sidestepping”-like moves. Also note that the Ninja Move is very different from the commonly found “sidestepping” on most traditional fighters which we are confident that players will agree is much better suited for the style of battle we have prepared.
What does the chakra powered dash and chakra powered multi projectile throw add to fights?
Using the chakra scheme adds increased damage and can change projectile attributes (such as changing a standard shuriken to a paper bomb) which leads to different reactions within battle. Chakra dash is a very important feature within the game providing a super speed close-in between the characters. This is useful as open area movement can lead to instances where players would have to chase opponents which may lead to unfair battles. For example, if a player just wanted to win, they could damage the opponent and then use the area to just run around to avoid confrontation, which would not be very fair for any battle. This dash will help balance such a situation and also has specific priority against attacks making it a very interesting move to use. We are very sure the chakra system we have in place is fitting to the game and will help lead to many interesting battles.
How many alternate jutsus does each character have? Do you unlock them by completing the story mode or do you have to purchase them?
We have 2 types of Jutsu; Jutsu and the Ultimate Jutsu. In regards to Jutsu, each character will have at least 2 different types of Jutsu with some having more. Each Jutsu will have different attributes leading to different play styles between characters. In regards to Ultimate Jutsu, each character has 1 Ultimate Jutsu, but depending on some characters, when they go into Awakening Mode, their Ultimate Jutsu will change. As to the Jutsu themselves, each character will have their basic set upon unlock, and the other Jutsu can be unlocked through Ultimate Mission Mode.
How many assist characters are there?
Each playable character can be selected as assists, so there are 25 assists within the game. We do have additional special assist specific characters which are planned for delivery through PlayStation Network after the game is released.
What are some of your favorite assist characters to use in battle?
My personal favorites are Sakura and Tenten. They have special assist moves where they place items on the playing field which act as traps against opponents. Each assist characters has multiple assist moves which can be customized, so we hope players will find their play “style” through the variety of assists.
Who is your favorite character to use? Can you share some tips with our readers?
My personal favorite to actual control in battle has to be Itachi. He is a bit more difficult to use, but he can be a very difficult opponent to face due to some of his move sets and Jutsu. I also like using Kankuro. He is a very unique character who uses a puppet to attack opponents. He may be hard to use at first, but being that he can attack at long range, use the puppet to block projectiles, shoot projectiles which can poison opponents, really, he is a fun one to use. In regards to tips, I’m sure our fans can relate, but chakra management is a very important factor within the battle. Make sure you take advantage of any opportunity you get to replenish chakra as there is a big difference in battle going in with a full charge.
Will the downloadable content for Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm be free? What kind of downloadable content are you planning to release?
We’ll be announcing our full plans for downloadable content before the game is released on November 4, so check back here soon for the full details!
[ Editor's note: As part of a pre-order promotion two support characters and missions have been announced as bonus DLC .]
Is there any chance content from the upcoming Shippuuden arc will appear in Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm?
We will not have any Shippuden arc content within the game or as additional content.
There are a lot of Naruto games coming out this holiday. What are your thoughts on Naruto: The Broken Bond and Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2?
We believe that Naruto Ultimate Ninja STORM will provide a very immersive game play for our fans and others, giving a sense that the player is actually playing an anime. We are very confident that our game has attained this goal.
As for the Naruto games on other platforms, we’re happy to see that all the titles releasing this holiday season are up to the high standards that fans hold for the series.
Images courtesy of Namco Bandai.