We sat down with Hiroshi Matsuyama, CEO of CyberConnect2, to talk about making Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. The latest game in the Storm series includes characters from the original Naruto arc and Shippuden storyline. In this interview, Matsuyama discusses the roster, awakenings, and why the epic boss battles from Storm 2 aren’t in generations.
What characters from the Naruto universe did you want to add, but couldn’t fit into Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations as playable characters?
Hiroshi Matsuyama, CEO of CyberConnect2: I was able to add pretty much all of the characters I wanted to in Generations, but there have been requests from fans about the Sound Four that I wasn’t able to put in so I’m taking those requests into consideration.
Have you thought about adding DLC characters to the roster?
While had DLC support characters, right now, as playable characters we haven’t been thinking too much about it. I don’t think there will be any plans for this in the future either.
Which character is your favorite to play with?
Usually, Itachi. We tried to recreate Itachi as close as possible to the manga itself. I like how he warps around the battlefield, which we did to keep him true to the series.
You know I’ve been playing Generations online and it feels like the awakenings are overpowered. Sasuke, for example, has so much range when he has Susanoo.
Point well taken, but the way I balanced the characters is to make their pre and post awakening moves are more balanced. Danzo is very strong after he activates his awakening, but before he is a technical character and a little harder to use. I tried to balance out the characters that way so that balance is tied to a player’s skill.
It feels like you took more fighting game mechanics and implemented them in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations with canceling and the replacement jutsu meter. For the next game, how else do you want to make it more technical?
We just released Generations in North America and we’re always open to user feedback. Fans can submit suggestions through our website. The more input we can get from players, the more we can use these suggestions for the next title.
Generations ends right before the Shinobi World War, which I guess will be a major part of the next game. Why didn’t you add any fights from that saga?
I want to make sure each saga is concluded before we work with that storyline. We don’t want to create an ending that isn’t part of the anime or manga itself and to that we have to follow the pace of the series.
Is CyberConnect2 interested in making original stories again like how in Ultimate Ninja 4 fills in what happened during Naruto’s training?
Definitely. We always want to stay true to the main arc, so we’re not going to change it, but creating sub stories is something we want to continue to look into.
And what character would you want to focus on?
Hmm… we usually choose from fan requests. Since it’s based on what they want to see give us feedback!
You know, I was surprised Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations didn’t have big boss battles like in Storm 2. Did the CyberConnect2 team get tired of making those kinds of fights after making Asura’s Wrath?
That’s not quite the case! [Laughs.] We wanted to make Generations more like a fighting game so we took out the epic boss battles. But, yeah like you said the guys that created the boss battles for Storm 2 were working on Asura’s Wrath.
You made a Musou style game and a fighting game series, but what type of game would you want to create?
We want to continue to challenge ourselves, but we have been able to make everything we wanted to create up until this point. I think in order to showcase the characters fighting games are probably the best fit.
For Generations, I wanted to add more technical gameplay and I’m satisfied I got a chance to do that. Hmm… what would I create next. I think it would be gameplay more focused on the drama and story.
How is the marathon training going?
[Laughs.] I’m starting to train a little bit, but I’ve been really busy with work.
Yeah, you’re doing a lot with .hack too these days too. What’s going on with The World?
The .hack games are only coming out in Japan now. If you want to the games to come over ask Namco Bandai Games America on Facebook! Let them see there are .hack fans in North America that want to play the games. If there are enough requests for North America for an English release we might be able to bring them over. There isn’t much I can tell you now about .hack, but you’ll hear news soon.
Since CyberConnect2 and Ganbarion (developers of the One Piece games) are both part of the Game Factory’s Friendship and you both work with Namco Bandai… have you thought about creating a One Piece and Naruto crossover?
[Laughs.] We have thought about it, but because of corporate issues it’s difficult to make, so at this point we don’t have any plans for this.
Have you ever thought about working with Level-5 on Naruto then since they’re part of the GFF too.
[Laughs.] No, even if we were going to make a [Naruto] RPG we would do it ourselves.
Yeah, that’s true you guys have experience with .hack and Solatorobo. Now that Solatorobo finally came out all around the world, what do you have to say to all the fans of your 10 year project?
As you said, it’s finally out all around the world. In North America, it hasn’t been selling as well. My message to the North American fans hopefully more of you guys can buy the game from Xseed who are distributing the title. We want it to get bigger! I want to make a sequel, but it doesn’t seem like it is very popular right now.