CyberConnect2 President: Naruto Fighting Games Take Balance Cues From The Anime

By Cheng Kai . May 3, 2013 . 3:42pm

matsuyama naruto

For many gamers, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is what is commonly referred to as a "story game". It is a title you play primarily for the single-player, cinematic experience, but that’s not all the game has to offer. Outside of Adventure mode, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is also a VS fighting game. One that’s even played in tournaments.


The community over at Arashiboards put together a handy tier list, in case you’re wondering which characters are more viable in the competitive metagame. Which is certainly handy given that there are a grand total of 80 ninjas and samurai (and ninjas cosplaying as samurais) to choose from.


With such a robust playable cast, one has to wonder: does developer CyberConnect2 even have time to spend on fine-tuning character balance?

The answer, as it turns out, is yes.


CyberConnect2 president Hiroshi Matsuyama tells Siliconera at the sidelines of a recent Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 promotional event in Tokyo, tweaking character parameters was pretty much a necessity during the development process; the team could not get lazy and just leave characters from Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations ported over into Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 as is – even if they wanted to.


"In Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 we’ve refreshed the game’s battle system quite a bit from the previous installment (Generations), and so it was necessary to tweak every single character from Generations to conform to the new system. So yes, in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 we’ve actually looked over and tweaked every character’s parameters for game balance," he explained.




"Having said that, When you talk about characters who are strong in the world of Naruto, naturally somebody like Madara Uchiha would come to mind, right?"


"So, on top and beyond of character balance, what we needed to do was also to ensure that characters who appear to be strong in the original manga and anime series, should ideally feel like a strong contender in the game," said Matsuyama.


CyberConnect2’s approach to character balance here is slightly different from what gamers are used to in a conventional fighting game, sure. But it’s not exactly an unreasonable one, given that the vast majority of the Naruto fanbase are not likely to be fighting game fanatics. Interestingly, the "tilt" factor that some of the anime series’ most fearsome ninjas receive is apparently limited only to when he or she is made the main fighter on a team – this balance philosophy does not apply to characters while in support roles.


In Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, players pick not just a single ninja, but a team comprising a main fighter and up to two support characters from the cast of 80. You do not control support characters directly in the course of a match. Instead, they are summoned every now and then to perform assist attacks alongside your main fighter. These assist attacks, Matsuyama said, are balanced based primarily on feedback gathered from players all over the world.


This was something the development team had taken to heart after Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2’s release back in 2010, when they noticed that characters like Hidan were often the go-to characters for assists. In order to prevent users from relying on the same assists too much, they’ve been making changes to assists based on player feedback from UNS2 to UNS Generations, and now from Generations to UNS3.


"So of course, we do implement deeper gameplay mechanics that we think fighting game fans will be able to pick up on and play at a tournament level with.However, when we set out to make this game, the premise for us was that we’re primarily making a game for fans of the Naruto manga and anime series. And so [accessibility for] those fans do take precedence, when it comes to who we’re gearing this title towards," Matsuyama concluded.

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  • XxStoicmonkeyxX

    Haha balance, haha…Naruto…

  • ResidentMetroid

    That’s pretty stupid.

  • grevlinghore

    I never felt that the balance was that far off the hook. Neji and Hanzo are basically the only ones I`d say are truly overpowered. Neji can eat away your chakra, and Hanzo`s grabs and combo`s are just too fast and powerful… Other than that, it ain`t that bad in my opinion.

  • Vash bane

    wait make characters as strong as they are in the anime?
    that will completely make a couple char very op lol
    but anyway why balance the support and not the characters?

  • Natat

    Balance cues from the anime? That’s pretty much saying no balance at all, which sounds fitting.

  • pantsonadog

    Balancing characters off the anime is fine in the story mode, but online?… no, that’s just stupid. Why would you want to even play online if all you’re going to be up against is endless Madara, Kiba, Minato’s etc etc. I know balancing 80 characters has to be hard, but still it’s not even fun unless your playing with friends who aren’t cheap.

  • British_Otaku

    No matter how expansive the story mode looks, the Storm series has always been a simple fighter first with pretty cutscenes and presentation around it. If they take balance into consideration, it doesn’t show very much. That and it has never been desirable for a fighting game based on other material to scale itself to make say fair match ups impossible strength wise, speed and abilities aside.

    Clash of Ninja (sorry to reference another Naruto fighting series) had a much better grasp of fighting game mechanics and balance for making characters seem similar to their source material.

    • Linhua

      … I have to agree with this completely.

      … I was very excited when I saw what direction they took the series (given the way it looked) and then when I got my hands on those mechanics… I nearly cried… = … you just can’t get creative at all with this new style… and worst of all for me… there was no 4 player action.

      … Clash of Ninja was where it was at for me. My friends and family and I spent YEARS bashing each other over the head with secret jutsu techniques… lol… and I made so many home (combo) videos on my VHS… I had custom music playing in the background while all the beatings took place (had the most fun fighting to Carl Douglas’ Kung Fu Fighting) and even today… it’s still so very refreshing to go back and see all the combos I came up with. Sure the game was a little stiff… but that was completely understandable considering how long ago it was originally released. The Shippuden versions were cool too… but it somehow lacked something from the first four clash of ninjas… (I think it was the combo canceling that got less opportunity to shine because that’s where I felt like my skills were really kicking in.).

      … but here we have this new and flashy sexy fighting series of Naruto… and… it’s just not the same… I haven’t bought a Ninja Storm since part two… but I HAVE been looking back… hoping they’d at the VERY LEAST fix that silly clashing cancel thing that happens far too often with far too many different moves where you just bump into your opponent and bounce back.

      … does anyone know if they’ve fixed this yet…?

    • Tails the Foxhound

      That’s because Clash was made by 8ting, the group behind Bloody Roar, Tatsunoko and even MvC3. They know what they’re doing!

  • KuchikiSentou

    It’s pretty hard to say Naruto is balanced. Obviously each VS game has its S-tier list but, I look at Budokai Tenkaichi or Dissidia and I think, there’s more “balance” there. The “War Itachi and regular Itachi” things do not help either.

    My constant gripe with the Naruto games is the Circle Circle towards Circle mechanic which conversely seems like the best way the game can be played, but invariably some characters stuck with that button will just have far better normals. Someone like Deidara has better Square buttons as well.

    They fixed the kawarimi system from Generations which is why I still bother, so it’s a sign that they are making an effort to make the game more than it is.

    It’s just a shame that MY game isn’t being made; to the point that I’m actually designing one myself.

  • Jesse Torres

    They should have just ported the movesets of all the characters from generations, they have an extensive move set, this was just a lazy action by their part of nerffing or crippling the characters, and they did not include so many characters. All they really care about is money, not quality gaming.
    They should get an award for helping the enviroment due to so much recycling in unnecessary and pleasant fighting mechanics.

    • stephane3012

      i think they took off the movesets cause of the lack of memory space on the xbox’s disk.”sigh”i don’t know why they are holding these games to be really “ultimate”.if they made a real open world,added some rpg elements,balance the characters,allowing online co-op,etc…it would have been an awesome experience especialy for naruto fans like me.they just don’t like listening to fans’s feedbacks or rather they ain’t got no time for that.

  • Adam Duffield

    Fun game, Id recommend anyone play it regardless of whether they watch the anime

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    deus ex machina no jutsu

  • harmonyworld

    If your gonna have OP characters, at least don’t take away my substitution jutsu like they by turning it into it’s own gauge!

    It was always able to be used if you had chakra, now it doesn’t even matter.
    It was one of the things that helped weaker character stand a chance against stronger characters.

  • Go2hell66

    And that is why the balancing in this game absolutely terrible, most unbalanced fighting game since mvc2

  • notforsale

    Obviously something would be wrong if young Naruto could easily beat Madara, just saying…

    • Asura

      Yeah, that something would be CC2 being half-competent. And if that happens the universe might implode, and that’s where the wrongness lies.

  • Tails the Foxhound

    Balance by the show? No. I for one loved beating everyone with Zabuza, Haku, and Sakon & Ukon in Gekitou Ninja Taisen 4. For that matter I loved beating Brollys with Goten (no Gotenks!) in Budokai 3. Screw that show balance noise.

    I did decent for myself in Storm Generations with a ‘Taka’ team lead by Suigetsu though. (Changes to the Awakening system screwed him in 3.)

  • Christian Wright


  • Speedo Redempteur

    Well that means no competitive balance at all.
    I’m fine with strong characters being strong but on naruto it’s on another level.
    There is no balance online .just the “strong characters being used” again and again

  • Bobby Jennings

    They did do a good job at balancing this time around…but there is still tons of work to be done. Now Kimimaro is the go-to assist character.

  • Istillduno

    See, even for purely casual play this just seems dumb, make a game based on an anime and shaft everyone whose favourite character isn’t written as the strongest in that universe or whatever.

    I mean surely if you are going for fans of the anime rather than fighting game fans, you should expect them to want to play a particular character off the bat and not intentionaly screw the balence because lol power levels.

  • karasuKumo

    Am I the only one who enjoys fighting against unbalanced characters? Although I rarely play online which is probably why, but I do understand the frustration considering I had to play online a fair bit in Storm 2 to platinum it and faced my fair share of Sage Naruto spammers. I see it as a challenge rather than a broken feature.

    What would you rather have, abilities that were true to the series in regards of damage, or perfect balancing?

  • Ferrick

    after playing this for a while and seeing this article… somehow i feel like i miss the old narutimate games that were back in the ps2 era… just having two jutsus (plain and super) kinda felt… lacking

  • Nigel Davis

    CC2 just needs to say “We are going to make a PS4 game of Naruto that is 100% true to the manga! No sub bar, the jutsu takes chakra to do in the manga, 5v5, Leader, 3 supports and a guest support like in most manga fights, Co-op Hack & Slash with 5 players, good luck beating Madara or Obito with Naruto alone! If the Xbox can’t handle the true Naruto game, then I feel sorry for you Xbox players using an American made console for a Japanese made game based on a Japanese anime.”

    Also, 80 my ass, there’s only 60. Multiplies don’t really count as they are the same character with different moves.

  • I remember back when I was playing UNS1 when it came out. Everyone wanted to play competitively but weren’t proficient enough to notice a few things that were totally unbalanced such as Orochimaru’s ability to win struggles with less button presses. Everyone thought I was just better at it than them instead of it being stacked in my favor. :|

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