Hiroshi Matsuyama, CyberConnect2’s President and CEO, spoke with Siliconera about the changes in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4’s battle system. In this interview, we talked about the leader change system, how wall fighting might work, and about Storm newcomer Hanabi Hyuga.
The numbered Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm games tend to focus on the story from the manga. Since the Naruto series is complete and there are characters from The Last: Naruto the Movie in the game, will Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 go to the end of the series?
Hiroshi Matsuyama, President and CEO: I know fans are expecting to see the climatic battles from the manga in the game, but I can’t say any details about this since the information will be revealed in Weekly Jump. [Laughs] But, don’t worry about it.
One of the major changes in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is you can switch leader characters in the heat of battle. Do characters share a life bar or does each character have their own life bars?
Since some players will have a two person team and others a three man cell, we wanted to balance this by only having one life gauge between all characters. If you activate Awakening mode that stays active when you switch leader characters too. It’s possible to have a Tailed Beast Ball combo attack where Shukaku attacks first then Kurama can come out right away.
That sounds pretty powerful, how are you going to balance that for the other player trying to defend against a Tailed Beast Ball barrage?
We are going to have the game balanced for players even if they are fighting against someone with all Tailed Beast user three man cell. We are thinking about putting in a counterattack. The support gauge is used when you do a leader change so you cannot constantly switch characters, but you could have three Tailed Beast attacks in a row. [Laughs]
[Note: Unlike last year’s Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution which had three character types (Drive, Awakening, and Ultimate Jutsu) all characters in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 will be able to use an Ultimate Jutsu and an Awakening. ]
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 will bring back wall fighting where a character can stand on a wall and attack. While earlier Storm games had both players fighting on a wall, we’ve seen that Storm 4 has one player on a wall and one on the ground. Can you tell us more about how this works?
Currently, the development team is discussing this feature. Having one character standing up high on a wall while the other character is on the ground might be unbalanced. The character on the wall can stay out of range and use projectiles from there. We are still thinking about how we can adjust wall fighting so it works for players. One idea we are considering is to only have wall fighting for boss battles if we cannot get it to feel right for free battles.
One idea [for free battle mode] was consuming the chakra gauge while a character is standing on the wall, but then players might think if they will have to use their chakra gauge they just won’t go on the wall. Then that would make the wall actions not as useful. Trying to figure out how to not give a player [standing on a wall] not that much of an advantage and to make it accessible has been a huge challenge for the team.
What have you been able to do visually with the more powerful PS4 and Xbox One hardware that you couldn’t when starting the Storm series on PlayStation 3?
We recreated our engine from scratch using PC as the base. From there, we port the game to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The new engine takes the anime presentation from PS3 and Xbox 360 and go beyond what we’ve been able to do with the game’s visuals.
Now, we can add more elements for players to see in the stage as they are fighting. Also, when a character uses a jutsu we can show environmental damage like shattered ground or burnt areas after fire has been used. There are more particle effects we can add to the game in attacks too. In then battle where Hashirama’s Wood Golem fights Madara and the Kyubi, the armor breaks into pieces that you can see. The most recent demo with Naruto working together with Sasuke and Sakura also has more environmental effects like smoke and sand.
How does Hanabi Hygua play in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4? The last time she was playable was in the PS2 titles like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Accel 2.
When we were making the PlayStation 2 games, Hanabi wasn’t shown that much in the manga. She was there, but there wasn’t much about her. Because there weren’t that many female characters in the Ultimate Ninja series, CyberConnect2 proposed to Shueisha to add Hanabi into the game. We showed Shueisha how we wanted to present her in the game and the moves she would use.
Now, because Hanabi was in The Last: Naruto the Movie and Kishimoto-sensei presented her characteristics and what she is like in the movie. Also, the anime series has episodes where Hinata and Hanabi together in some storylines. We drew upon the ideas from Hanabi as she is seen from now to create her character for the game. Hanabi is more cute in this game than on PS2. She will have attacks like you’ve seen on TV.
[Note: One attack Matsuyama-san showed was Hanabi’s combination jutsu where Neji, Hinata, and her father Hiashi Hyuga work together. Hiashi will only appear during this combination jutsu and is not a playable character.]