CyberConnect2 refined the Storm fighting system for Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. The upcoming game adds ring outs and the ability to activate an Awakening at any time. How will these changes and the addition of a samurai affect the game? To find out, we spoke with Yuki Nishikawa, producer and director of production at CyberConnect2.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja 3 has a bunch of new characters like the speedy Mifune, Hanzo, and all of the Jinchuriki. How did you develop Mifune so he plays differently than other characters and how did you balance all of the Jinchurki?
Yuki Nishikawa, Producer at CyberConnect2: Because Mifune is a “samurai” and not a “ninja”, we created him to be a character that fights using the art of the sword rather than ninjutsu. Of course, because they are created to fight using the same system, he has Ultimate Jutsu and Awakenings like other characters.
Since this is the first time that a “samurai” has appeared in the midst of the ninja battle, we put a lot of time and effort to making his cinematic scenes to have a different taste than those of the ninja.
In regards to the balance of the Jinchuriki characters, we were able to grasp an image of how to balance them due to the appearance of Killer Bee as a Jinchuriki and the precedent beast transformations in the series.
However, in order to bring out the unique battle characteristics of the newly appearing Jinchuriki, each Jinchuriki’s balance was adjusted individually.
CyberConnect2 makes a new Naruto fighting game almost every year. How much do the character models change from title to title?
We largely base our production based on the TV anime’s settings, so if there are no changes to the TV anime, we do not need to revise the character models.
However, Naruto is an ongoing series, making the beginning of the TV anime largely different from the latest due to its many improvements in expressions. Additionally, because there are many characters that look more mature during a serious scene, we add exclusive facial features to change the appearances.
Do any of the plot twists in the Naruto series like finding out Tobi’s real identity ever surprise you?
I’m surprised every week! On the release date of Weekly Shonen Jump, we always discuss what we expect from next week’s Naruto with our internal Naruto production team, but when we read the following week’s Shonen Jump, everyone reacts with “so THIS is what happens!” and is always surprised by Masashi Kishimoto-sensei.
Additionally, in summer 2012, I was surprised by the contents of the movie “Road to Ninja – Naruto the Movie –”, written by Masashi Kishimoto-sensei himself, as well as the TV anime “Road to Sakura” that was created to commemorate the movie release also had some very interesting twists.
To top things off, in commemoration of the 500th airing of the TV anime Naruto Shippuden, the “Chikara” series was aired, making 2012 filled with pleasant surprises for Naruto fans like us.
To make 2013 a year of surprises for Naruto fans with Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, we are earnestly working on the production, so please look forward to the upcoming release!
Can you tell us about the development of the Ultimate Decision system where you can choose the boss you fight? Why did you want to develop this and how does this change the story or gameplay? Will young Sasuke be weaker, for example?
We believe that the players that will play this game are mainly Naruto fans, and we don’t think fans will necessarily want us to change the way that the story unfolds. However, if the game proceeds exactly like the original story, it would be the same as enjoying the comics or anime, so we brainstormed ways to provide an experience that is made possible only through the medium of games. That is how we reached the decision to introduce the Ultimate Decision system.
In this system, the overall story flow cannot be altered, but based on the player’s decisions the battle experiences can be changed. For example, in the boss battle with Naruto against Sasuke after Sasuke attacks the Five Kage Summit, Sasuke yells “You haven’t changed at all since then!” From there, the Ultimate Decision system takes place, as if to ask, “Which scene does ‘since then’ refer to?”
Based on the selection you choose, the flashback battle’s cinematic scenes and difficulty will differ whether you chose “Naruto (Youth)” for the clash between Naruto and Sasuke at the Final Valley or “Naruto Shippuden” for the reunion at Orochimaru’s hideout.
Gameplay-wise, the Sasuke from the “Youth” chapter is at a lower difficulty than the Sasuke from “Shippuden”. This game is designed to allow players to experience the route / battle that they didn’t choose after progressing through the game, so please feel free select the route of your choice on your first playthrough.
It seems like more emphasis has been put on the Awakening move since you can activate it at anytime in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. Why did you decide to focus more on the awakening? When I play online it sometimes seems like whoever gets to the awakening first has a huge advantage in the fight.
This is not a system that would allow “whoever gets to the awakening first [to have] a huge advantage.” Up until the previous installment, we balanced the game so that it could become a player’s last trump card, but in Storm 3, the timing at which you use the Awakening becomes an important gamble. For example, characters who can activate their Awakening at any time (Instant Awakening) will carry risks when they are Awakened, including having the total chakra or health decreased. Therefore, carelessly activating the Awakening mode could potentially put you in a tight spot. The player is required to analyze the battle conditions and choose when it would be advantageous to use it during battle.
The familiar Awakening system (Adversity Awakening) is also available, and based on the character, there are special attacks that are unlocked only during Awakenings. The Awakening system is only one example of how the battle system has changed in this game from previous installments, and we hope you enjoy it.
Ring outs are also new in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. Can you tell us about how ring outs changed the way CyberConnect2 designed stages and why you wanted to add these in?
Up until the previous installment, the stage was unaffected even if you crashed into fences or invisible walls. In Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, however, by introducing the ring out system, the battle is no longer an issue of just depleting each other’s health gauges, but players can now play while being aware of the stage’s terrain.
We are making adjustments to the balances to not make any players dissatisfied, so we hope you play for yourself and have fun with these stages!
What other changes to the fighting system did CyberConnect2 make for Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3?
The battle system is being greatly adjusted at the nitty-gritty level. Of course, we have polished the techniques that fans have enjoyed in Storm 2 and Generations, but for Storm 3 we are aiming for the optimized battle system and hope everyone will enjoy the “new Ultimate Ninja battle” experience.
How are the hack and slash battles different from CyberConnect2’s PSP game Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact? What can you do on PS3 and Xbox 360 that you couldn’t do on PSP?
As a premise, the Ultimate Ninja Storm series works mainly as a 1 v 1 battle system, and this 1v1 battle system largely makes up the gameplay. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact, however, was exclusively created with 1 v Many as its premise, so the designs for Impact and Storm 3 largely differ.
If we had theoretically inserted the battle system from Impact into the 1 vs Many battles of Storm 3, the battle system would significantly change in the middle of the game, and thus the battle techniques that the players have picked up throughout the game would be reset. We believe that is a bit conflicted for a single game, so to avoid this in Storm 3, we have combined the familiarity of the controls of the battle system with the refreshing sense of defeating numerous enemies.
There aren’t really any parts that we could do with PS3/X360 and not with the PSP, but we do believe that we were able to implement an enjoyable 1 vs Many battle system that is only made possible with Storm 3.
CyberConnect2 also made Asura’s Wrath, which was like a whole game of Naruto boss battles. What did you learn from making Asura’s Wrath that you put into Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 and what is your favorite boss battle?
The experience that I gained from the cinematics of Asura’s Wrath are utilized in Storm 3.
However, Asura’s Wrath is not the only thing we utilized for the game system of Storm 3. We referenced fans’ feedback from Storm 2 and Generations, as well as the survey forms that we received on our website.
We put everything we had in the production of the boss bottles, so I would love to respond with “I love them all”, but personally I believe the beast-like liveliness of the Nine-Tails was extremely well-illustrated, and so let’s leave it as the boss battle of “Naruto vs Nine-Tails.”
While we’ve seen Naruto and Goku crossovers before, but this is a first for CyberConnect2. How did this come about and where did the Samurai costume come from? Will we see any crossover fighters like Lars in this game?
The Goku costume was originally illustrated through a collaboration of Kishimoto-sensei and Toriyama-sensei in a publication called “Hiden: Kai no Sho” (literal translation: “Secret Book: Record of Everyone”). I remember being very excited when I first saw this. If possible, I thought, I would love to recreate this collaboration in the Ultimate Ninja series. Thus, we consulted with Mr. Sasaki, the producer at Namco Bandai Games Inc., confirmed with the related personnel, and with several people’s efforts, were able to make this a reality.
The samurai costume was originally illustrated by Kishimoto-sensei as a cover page for Weekly Shonen Jump on the week of May 5th, which is Children’s Day in Japan. This design was really cool, so we had the honor to implement this in Storm 3. We hope fans will enjoy this as well.
The Goku costume is a Day 1 bonus, and the samurai costume is only available as a pre-order bonus, so please pre-order at your local retail store soon so you don’t miss out!!