A few months ago, I sat down with CyberConnect2’s CEO and had a chat about Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution. In that conversation, Matsuyama told me that he and his team are always thinking about how to keep the game consistent, stylish, and cool. I think that’s exactly what I saw when I got to play Mecha-Naruto for the first time at E3.
Mecha-Naruto is everything you’d expect from an original character designed by Masashi Kishimoto. The robot aesthetic isn’t just skin-deep; it’s built into a unique and surprisingly fit-for-the-universe-of-Naruto moveset that differs substantially from other playable versions of Naruto, while at the same time not losing that identity entirely to the robot motif.
Mecha-Naruto tromps about with the same degree of terror as (fat) Majin-boo from the Dragon Ball series, all the while spouting soulless robotic versions of Naruto’s most famous catchphrases. Hearing his Speak’n’spell-like voice victoriously utter “dattebayo” after executing his ultimate Jutsu, in which he transforms into a gigantic cannon that’d make Megatron jealous, is just one example of the lighthearted humor you can expect to see.
It’s as easy to close to gap with Mecha-Naruto as it is to create one, which makes him a lot of fun to play with. The same jets you use to activate his rocket-propelled, rasengan-wielding fist are used to boost him far away from enemy fists. Of course, his ability as a ranged character differs based on the Jutsu type you select before the match begins.
I prefer to get up close and personal, so I chose the awakening jutsu type. Mecha-Naruto is one of many characters who will have two-stage awakenings. His first stage is a three-tailed beast transformation, while his second stage lets him combine with an even larger Mecha-Kyubi to rain havoc on his opponent. The three-tailed transformation’s attacks stick, similar to Wolf in Super Smash Bros Brawl, while Mecha-Kyubi, if we’re still using Brawl for reference, feels like Bowser. Its moves are powerful, but leave it vulnerable after executing them.
If Mecha-Naruto’s moveset doesn’t please you, the game will include an original story exploring the origins of Kishimoto’s new character that might. I can understand why Sasori might make puppets in the likeness of his parents—but why would anyone want a mechanized version of Naruto?
I asked if he might be fueled by the sheer energy of ramen, but the Bandai Namco reps offered no response.