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Jeremy Jastrzab
28 Sep, 2011

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview

PS3 Preview | Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
While it had plenty of whizz-bang effects and over-the-top action, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 left a lot to be desired for anyone who wasn’t a fan of the Naruto franchise. The important battles were extremely enjoyable and quite well thought out, but the overall game was bogged down by too much fluff, including an undercooked attempt at RPG styled overworlds and too many meaningless battles. At Namco Bandai’s Pre-TGS event, we got to check out the next title in the series, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations, and see whether it was an improvement.

Before we walked into a very passionate interview with the President and CEO of CyberConnect 2, Hiroshi Matsuyama, there was some time for a bit of hands on action with the game. And at first, it was difficult to see what has been changed and what has been added, aside from the obvious things such as new characters. And the first thing that struck was that both Narutos from the original series and from Shippuden will be playable, suggesting that the game will cover the whole Naruto story so far.

And after sitting down with Matsuyama-san, a lot of the things that are going into Generations have now become much clearer. And it was certainly refreshing to see how passionate he was about his product. While his passion did remind us of Suda 51, Matsuyama-san brought along a real jovial and fun-loving demeanour, which is probably needed with some of the franchises that CyberConnect 2 has worked on. During a time when a lot of gaming involved institutions are headed up by business men and suits, it was great to see the head honcho willing to come out and talk openly and knowingly about the game and the series itself.

A familiar challenger approaches...

A familiar challenger approaches...
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While emphasising that this is a game being built for the fans, Matsuyama-san brought up an interesting contrast between the types of feedback received from each major gaming region. In particular, he claimed that with the Japanese audience, their primary feedback came from a technical perspective. Their comments revolved around the positioning of bars, the balance of systems and depth of fighting. On the flipside, US and European audiences tended to leave more feedback regarding content. For example, there has been a constant clamour for including Zabuza and Haku in the game, who were two strong characters from very early in the series. He also expressed his surprise at how well versed and up-to-date the fans from overseas were.

Matsuyama-san elaborated that this was a key challenge to the development of the title, balancing the additions and tweaks to satisfy both sets of fans. However, there was another relationship that was just as important for getting the game off the ground – that between CyberConnect 2 and the animation studios. Matsuyama-san mentioned the trials and tribulations experienced due to the visions from both sides, as the developers had their vision, and the animation studios wanted to make sure that the integrity of their property remained intact. And after ten years of working on Naruto titles, he’s become intimately familiar with what is acceptable for both sides, and each side knows what to expect from each other.

Pistols at dawn.

Pistols at dawn.
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As mentioned, the game will indeed cover all of Part I and Part II (Shippuden) of the Naruto franchise, all the way up until the most recent episodes that were aired in Japan. As such, both the story mode and the character additions will reflect this. Players can expect to see just about every major character from the Naruto canon to appear in the game. However, a point was made to say that original characters – those introduced in fillers – will not be included. Thankfully.

Matsuyama-san mentioned that there have been some changes made to the Battle system, but didn’t really have the chance to elaborate in the time that we spent. From what he did say though, there has been an effort from the development team to make the system more accessible, easier to understand and easier to get into. Just how they intend to do this, whether it be with tutorials or explanations, was not revealed at this time. However, it was mentioned that the rounds will be quicker to complete, with an intention for making a sharper and more accessible multiplayer experience. Some of the technical changes that were mentioned include the separation of the Chakra and Substitution gauges, as requested by the Japanese players.

Susano-o is actually the Shinto God of the sea and storms.

Susano-o is actually the Shinto God of the sea and storms.
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One of the biggest changes to the game came with the Story mode. The RPG overworld that players spent so much time in during the last two games has been scrapped. Instead, players will be constantly kept in battle, as they play through a variety of stories, across several different and important characters. Naruto and Sasuke will obviously have the biggest arcs, but the game will also allow players to experience the back stories of others such as Minato Namikaze and Itachi Uchiha. In particular, the developers and animation studios have worked very closely together to create new content that will be considered canon, which adds up to around sixty minutes of additional anime content. However, these arcs will be shorter than those of the main two characters. Understandably, Matsuyama-san was quite proud of this and it makes for an intriguing departure from the usual licensed rehash efforts seen.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a title that is heavily geared towards satisfying the fans. And through Hiroshi Matsuyama and his passion for the license, it’s clear that the folks at CyberConnect 2 are big fans as well. There are still doubts over just how great a game it will be, but hopefully the changes and additions will make for a more compelling and substantial fan package, and get rid of the fluff that bloated the last title.

PALGN thanks Namco Bandai for organising the hands on time and to Hiroshi Matsuyama for giving the time.
Overall:
Built for the fans by fans, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations looks to continue improving and providing the ultimate fan service.

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6 Comments
2 years ago
I love Naruto but unfortunately can't play the games as they would spoil the series for me. I started watching Naruto in dubbed form and didn't realise until I got to Shippuden that we were like over a year or so behind Japan XD

I could just switch to sub now but I would rather watch the entire series again in subbed form to ensure I didn't miss out on any moments/meanings that weren't properly translated in the dub form.

Long story short, I wish western countries would just excel us up to where Japan is.
2 years ago
Great preview Jeremy! The game sounds as though it's shaping up really well, and it's nice to see so much passion coming from both the developers and animation studio. That's what makes CyberConnect's games so good, I reckon. I'm a little sad that they've gotten rid of the overworld part of the game though, I liked it in Ninja Storm 2. Even so, I think it will be a great game, and the new content has me interested. icon_smile.gif
2 years ago
Spacebreak, look online to find out which seasons are filler and which aren't. Filler if you don't know are created when the anime catches up to the manga. The writers for the show make a new arc that is normally completely separate from the main story for a season before getting back to the main story.

And don't feel too bad about spoilers. The ending of Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 only aired in Japan a couple of months ago.
2 years ago
you had me sold at zabuza
2 years ago
do you know if the game will be playable in japonese over here in the U.S please answer!!!
2 years ago
Yes, it will be. They always are, and the new demo confirms it once again.
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Publisher:
  Namco Bandai
Year Made:
  2011

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