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Naruto

As the first current-gen Naruto, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is a huge visual leap

Apr 13 // Chris Carter
Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PC, PS4 [tested], Xbox One) Developer: CyberConnect2Publisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentRelease: TBA 2015 Sometimes when a developer is able to focus solely on the production of a current-generation build, it shows. That's the case with Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, which is easily one of the best-looking anime games I've ever seen. Despite the screen being constantly filled with blasts, everything runs very smoothly, which is crazy when you consider the amount of detail present in nearly every battleground. For instance, one encounter had a giant animated nine-tails monster looming about, and even though it wasn't directly involved in the fight, its presence was felt. Since this is supposed to be the last game in the Ninja Storm series (the manga just ended), it will feature many elements from the final stretch of episodes, as well as the last film. New Ultimate Jutsu techniques are in, as are new characters like Hanabi Hyuga. Players will have the opportunity to switch leaders while playing story mode in many sequences, which was one of the most requested features from fans. I was able to chat a bit about the new game with the CEO of CyberConnect2, Hiroshi Matsuyama, who arrived at the event donned in an appropriate costume. When asked why he enjoyed working on the franchise so much, he responded, "I want to create a game where I'm satisfied as a fan first, and then I can know that fans will be happy. I wanted to support the series by creating a masterpiece to close out this chapter of Naruto." I asked him about the advantages of having new systems as a lead platform, and the biggest change that he is excited for is the focus on "bigger battlefields, with more open air. We want to really give players a sense of scale and we can do that now on the PS4 and Xbox One. There will also be more animations that weren't possible before, like costume damage details, even things like water extinguishing fire damage." From what I could tell based on my demo playthrough, these claims were true, as Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is ridiculously cinematic, almost like the equivalent of a Michael Bay movie in anime form. By that same token, it can be repetitive to watch said cinematic play out in an actual battle, like one fight that had a CPU character using the same 30-second invincible move every minute or so. The good news is once you get through it, it's off to another fantastic setting that looks nothing like the others, chained together through QTE transition phases. Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is looking great so far, and I'm really happy with CyberConnect2's decision to focus on newer platforms. It'll be interesting to see where its involvement with the Naruto series will go from here, because it is too good of a developer to stop now.
Naruto preview photo
A more authentic look
There are more Naruto games than one sane person can possibly handle. Although Bandai Namco Entertainment owns the license, a number of different developers have worked with the gaming side, most notably CyberConne...

Naruto  photo
Naruto

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution receives official Steam release date


Dattebayo!
Aug 08
// Brittany Vincent
Ever sit and pontificate on how there just aren't enough Naruto games on Steam? Boy, do I have great news for you! Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution is headed for Steam on September 16 for European Naruto fan...
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A day late: Naruto's mom joins Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution


That game title!
May 12
// Dale North
My apologies for coming in with this a day after Mother's Day. Naruto's mama, Kushina Uzumaki, joins Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution as a fighter. Namco Bandai says that her appearance in the game will ...
Animu games photo
Animu games

New One Piece, Naruto games have original characters from series creators


Creator? I hardly even know her!
Apr 22
// Steven Hansen
The upcoming Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution and One Piece Unlimited World Red both feature a bit of fan service. For Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, series creator Masashi Kishimoto drew an original charac...
Namco Bandai photo
Namco Bandai

Namco registers One Piece, Naruto, & Short Peace domains


Potential localizations loom on the horizon
Oct 20
// Kyle MacGregor
Namco Bandai's European wing recently registered a new set of domains, unearthing eight titles that potentially could see western releases in the not too distant future. The batch includes a domain for a Short Peace game, ind...
Naruto Storm 3 PC ver. photo
Naruto Storm 3 PC ver.

PC Ninja Race: Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 getting port


DLC to enhance console toy versions
Jul 05
// Josh Tolentino
It's a good day for Naruto fans, fans of PC fighting games, and fans of "enhanced edition" rereleases. Namco Bandai has just announced that its Ultimate Ninja Storm series will be making a PC platform deb...
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1.2 mil shipped: Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3


Most successful franchise launch ever
Apr 22
// Dale North
Holy orange ninjas! Namco Bandai announced that their latest Naruto game, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, has shipped 1.2 million copies worldwide. We were surprised to see that the game mad...
Naruto Shippuden photo
Naruto Shippuden

Get your Hello Kitty on in Naruto Ninja Storm 3's DLC


Kamehameha!
Apr 12
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is getting a costume pack! You can dress up Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke in new outfits ranging from super weird to Hello Kitty. Although weirdly enough, you can't get the Hello Kitty ou...

In the midst of change, community is at Namco's forefront

Apr 11 // Keith Swiader
Last year the company focused on three core pillars, Choi described, which consist of having a focused portfolio of great intellectual properties; taking those properties, diversifying them, and extending their reach in multiple ways; and having a strong sense of what the community wants. "We at Namco Bandai Games are not only here to listen to what you have to say, but deliver what you ask for and work with you to make sure we bring you the best game experience for you on a daily basis," he said. Choi referenced titles like Tekken, which has sold over 42 million units worldwide, 1.5 million of which come from the franchise's latest release, Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Ni No Kuni, with its 86 Metacritic score, also performed well for the company. Then there's the Naruto series, whose latest iteration, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, sold 1 million units in the US and Europe in 30 days, which Choi said validates the core IP pillar Namco has in place. "This is probably one of the most exciting franchises that we have and spent a lot of time developing in the western market," Choi said. The company is also celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Tales role-playing games, and to date the series has sold 15 million units worldwide. Tales of Xillia, already released in Japan, and will release this August on PlayStation 3. "I really believe this showcases the fact that Namco Bandai Games really puts a lot of time and energy in being the cornerstone of the JRPG market," Tales series producer Hideo Baba said on stage. A diverse and evolving company When looking toward the digital front, Namco has had success so far, with PC's Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition garnering 300,000 downloads. This amplifies Namco's pillar of diversifying their content and outreach, Choi said, as the company is not only delivering content at brick-and-mortar stores, but digitally as well. "That is a great indication that our fans are responding and we are delivering what they ask for," Choi added. Tekken Card Tournament, released last week, offers a "different way of looking at the gaming experience," Choi explains. The game intertwines the famous fighting franchise with card battling, bringing two worlds together to create a new form of gaming, as Choi describes. Tekken Card Tournament is available for iOS, Android and PC and offers cross-platform play. Choi referenced the aforementioned free-to-play distribution front, and said that while the consumption of content has changed, the monetization of that content has changed as well, and that free-to-play has really blown up in the past year. "That is something that has been exciting for us," Choi said. "As a global organization, we spent a year to take a look at this and say, 'how do we find ourselves in this business?'" The company’s first foray in free-to-play distribution is Ridge Racer Utopia, which is also a "free-to-drive, free-to-drift, and free-to-pulverize" title coming from the long-line of Ridge Racer games, and will help launch the company into the new form of monetization. Ridge Racer is the one franchise Namco will "be able to manage on our own and that has accompanied the launch of every major game platform release," Choi said, equating the new free-to-play strategy to that of a new console release. A return to dark times Along with Tales of Xillia, Namco's future holds From Software's Dark Souls II, the third iteration in the Souls series. Choi said that ever since its announcement last year, fans have been itching to learn more. "Ever since the release of the teaser trailer, it received 12 million unique view in the first 30 days, and on average each one of these viewers have seen it three times," he said. "That means there are fans out there that are either addicted to the franchise, or they over-analyzed every frame of it -- which they have," Choi laughed. With so much going on for Namco, and with the abundance of changes taking place in the gaming industry, Choi continually referred back to the company's three core pillars during the event, and assured that they are as committed as ever in delivering to the fans first.  The voice of the fans and a strong sense of community are still at the forefront for the company, and that's where the company is headed moving forward.
Namco Bandai Games photo
VP of Marketing and Digital Sales discusses company's success and future
"This year, the industry has had a lot of changes," Carlson Choi, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Sales at Namco Bandai Games America said at the company's Gamer's Day press conference last week. "The way the consumer...

J-Stars Victory photo
J-Stars Victory

Goku fights Naruto in this crazy J-Stars Victory teaser


Um, sign me up?
Apr 08
// Chris Carter
 J-Stars Victory Vs, an upcoming insane looking fighting game that pits Shonen Jump stars Goku (Dragon Ball), Naruto (Naruto), Toriko (Toriko) and Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece) against each other, has donned its first tea...

Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3

Mar 21 // Josh Tolentino
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)Developer: CyberConnect2Publisher: Namco BandaiRelease: March 5, 2013MSRP: $59.99 As a direct sequel to 2010's Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 retains most of that game's structure while incorporating some of the mechanical refinements introduced in last year's Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. Players can expect to power through a ten-to-twelve hour "Ultimate Adventure" story mode, covering the core plot of Naruto Shippuden following Naruto's battle with Pain (the endpoint of Ultimate Ninja Storm 2), then recounting most of the major events of the Fourth Ninja World War, with brief flashback missions featuring Naruto's parents. If all of that sounds like gibberish to you (or if this is your first time with Naruto), you'll be out of luck hoping everything will be explained to you in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. That's mostly due to the game's placement in the overall Naruto canon, which is still a long way from over.  Imagine starting on the Mass Effect series with Mass Effect 3, and you'll be close to the level of prior knowledge Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 can't help but assume the player possesses. Many of the smaller details and characterizations will fall flat unless you have at least some level of investment in the Naruto universe and its dozens-strong cast. The story ends up somewhat less coherent than in Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. In fact, just to get it where it was the game makes a number of tweaks to the plot, which may annoy fans that want to see every single event portrayed.  Further, even a bumping-up of the game's age rating (in Japan it went from the equivalent of an "E" to a "T") doesn't save it from feeling a tad bloodless, which isn't the greatest thing to be when trying to portray how awful global war is for all involved. As a result some of the more shocking moments of the manga have their impact diminished. Narrative foibles aside, though, Naruto is, and remains, a superhero story targeted at teens and tweens. Its messages of friendship, legacy, and brotherhood are universal (and universally cheesy). Provided players have a certain tolerance for that kind of heavy-handed mushy stuff, it's a fun ride and can even be touching at times. Players will explore the story much in the same manner as they did in Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, walking about static environments such as the Hidden Leaf Village in the fashion of an old-school Japanese RPG, visiting shops, taking on side tasks, buying and collecting items, and viewing cutscenes. Though these JRPG trappings aren't the most refined that genre offers, and in some ways could be interpreted as folderol designed to pad out the game time, it feels like a pleasant diversion in practice, and lends a weight to the narrative that one would never expect a fighting game to possess, let alone an anime-series tie-in.  The item collection and shopping serves a secondary purpose, as well, by allowing players to fill out their "Ninja Tools," which function as powerups and sub-weapons during combat. This time around the tools have been split into the "Hero" and "Legend" categories, with "Hero" tools seemingly used for healing and stat boosts, and "Legend" tools for damage-dealing and trap-laying. The tools are leveled up by participating in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3's version of a Paragon/Renegade choice, the "Ultimate Decision" system, where during certain events players can pick a "Hero" or "Legend" path affecting which tool type gets improved. In execution the system feels somewhat superfluous. With few exceptions, each choice only really changes the difficulty of a fight ("Legend" usually being tougher), or perhaps the order in which certain events play. But, as is usually the case with this sort of narrative fare, the joy and glory isn't so much in the story itself but the telling, and Cyberconnect2 has pretty much mastered the art of spinning Naruto's type of blockbuster yarn. Barring some cutscene sequences that seem to approach Xenosaga-length around the middle of the game, much of Ultimate Ninja Storm's best storytelling happens right in the thick of battle, when players are most engaged with the actual mechanics of the fighting system. The fighting in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is quite simple, and is unlikely to win the franchise a main stage spot at the next EVO Championship. Two characters face off in a 3D arena. One face button throws ranged shuriken, one attacks, one jumps, and one does a "Chakra Load," which modifies the next action press, either unleashing a powerful Ninjutsu attack, throwing supercharged shuriken, or performing a "Chakra Dash" that instantly closes (or opens up) the gap. Double-taps and holds further expand the options, triggering heavier versions of Ninjutsu or a quick-stepping dodge maneuver. There's a button for blocking, and another for the "Substitution Jutsu," which can instantly break an enemy's combo, setting them up for a back attack. Two buttons are reserved for Support Attacks, calling in selected support characters to defend or attack an opponent. Summoning one's mates often enough charges a Support Gauge that increases their potency and unlocks powerful team attacks. Many characters also have "Awakened" modes, a powered-up state active at low health that locks out some moves but vastly increases damage and speed, and in some cases, changes a character's appearance or moveset -- a trait that manifests quite dramatically for "Jinchuriki," a set of characters (Naruto himself among them) that play host to living weapons of mass destruction. None of the dry technical descriptions above do much justice to what actually happens onscreen, though, as the game is at almost all times a mind-blowing riot of color and over-the-top animation. Manga creator Masashi Kishimoto's colorful and diverse character concepts mesh perfectly with the dynamic, over-the-top style, resulting in something epic happening most any time you push a button. Fighting is a joy to watch both as player and spectator, with characters career about the screen, dashing to and fro and beating the snot out of each other with fireballs lightning strikes, rocks, bombs, balls of energy, clone armies and all manner of other things.  After their absence from Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations, the series signature setpiece boss encounters make a return, and have characters facing off against everything from a personal duel against a former friend to a Godzilla-scaled encounters between giant ninja and giant monsters. Cyberconnect2's flair for the audacious (the same one that eventually birthed the likes of Asura's Wrath) is most apparent in these lavishly produced, elaborately choreographed sequences, peppered with Quick-Time Events (here called "Interactive Actions"). Nailing button prompts perfectly gains points during a match, unlocking "Secret Factors" like extra dialog or extended versions of certain scenes, as well. Certain sections also change the pace by introducing "Mob Battles," a mode best likened to Tekken's "Tekken Force" gameplay, where players chop through crowds of fodder enemies. While somewhat awkward due to movement and controls still being tuned for one-on-one combat, they do serve as a pleasant diversion and don't outstay their welcome. A lineup of over 80 characters ensures that while every character has the same basic move set, everyone feels relatively different. Granted, veteran players may find less novelty in the roster. The majority of the roster return from previous games, gaining little more than a tweak in costume or an update to their move set. Only a dozen or so can be genuinely considered new.  Despite the simplicity of the input, the system is refined enough to allow for a decent amount of tactical consideration, particularly when fighting other humans rather than the AI. Rather than a contest of knowing specific moves or combo memorization, a pitched Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 bout is more about timing, disruption, and opportunism. Because Ninjutsu and Ultimate Attacks are easy and quick to deploy, and because the Substitution Jutsu is practically a get-out-of-stun-lock-free button, keeping opponents on the back foot while using support attacks to make sure those highly damaging techniques actually hit, rather than waste Chakra. Unfortunately, with such a large roster balance seems to be a secondary priority. The online matches I've played feature a preponderance of faster characters over the slow "bruisers." Network performance ranged from fair to poor, though this may have been a result of my locality rather than inadequate netcode. There's little compensation in place for laggy players, though, so folks looking for the fairest matches may wish to search closer to home.   While the game isn't a genuine sea change from its predecessors, it stays true to the franchise's foundations, and makes up for any lack of innovation with the grand, beautiful spectacle that is its hallmark. The iterative refinements Cyberconnect2 have implemented over the series' history have helped to deepen the gameplay as well, bringing a more satisfying competitive experience while still maintaining accessibility. Though it stumbles somewhat due to unfortunate narrative placement, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a must-play for any Naruto fan, as well as anyone looking to have a good time wallowing in fun anime ridiculousness.
Naruto UNS 3 review photo
Real Ultimate Power
As with its brethren in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3's approach to depicting super-powered ninja action is best described as a bit "Hollywood," with all pros and cons that such a d...

Review: Naruto Powerful Shippuden

Mar 12 // Ian Bonds
Naruto Powerful Shippuden (3DS)Developer: Inti CreatesPublisher: Namco BandaiRelease: March 5, 2013MSRP: $39.99 For starters, this isn't exactly based on the Shippuden series. In fact, this is based on the Naruto spin-off series: Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals, where ol' Bushy Brows is actually the lead character. Players can select either Rock or Naruto and play through intersecting storylines. While Naruto's story somewhat resembles parts of the Shippuden series, Rock Lee's episodes are a mishmash of craziness, sometimes making no sense at all as an excuse for comedy. Personally, I'm all for that, as any excuse for a game to not take itself seriously is an excuse for me to enjoy it. Powerful Shippuden is very self-aware and repeatedly makes reference to the fact that its characters know they're in a game. The humor can be a bit juvenile at times, but that may stem from the super deformed chibi art style. Characters have big heads and overly expressive faces, and just about every moment has them reacting over-the-top during cut scenes. In-game, the characters are well animated, and the chibi style suits the mechanics and 3DS platform well. The 3D is never intrusive, and while it's not really a stand-out feature, it adds a certain flair to the goofy look of the game. This isn't really a one-on-one fighter like its console brethren. Powerful Shippuden is more of a brawler, where each character fights through different stages of waves of baddies in order to advance the plot or unlock more techniques. Each level has a certain set of parameters to meet, and passing them rewards the player with XP which can be used to level up, boost stats in defense, increase your chakra meter, add skills, and more. This minor RPG flavor helps differentiate the title more from the usual Naruto games, as it not only influences how you play but also helps breaks up the monotony that can come from beating up the occasional waves of birds and wolves. There's even a small bit of wagering involved, where setting certain parameters before the level (such as betting you can finish the stage in under a minute, for example) will yield a multiplier on how much XP you gain from that mission. It's a neat little diversion that can certainly be exploited early on for those who like to grind out the stats on their characters. As you progress, certain stages may be locked, and only through obtaining keys from other levels will you be able to unlock them. Sometimes this means switching from Naruto to Rock Lee's campaign, which allows players to get a feel for how different each character and their accompanying storyline is. While Naruto is a master of every form of jutsu techniques, Rock Lee cannot use ninjutsu at all, so his combat is more physical and close-quarters. Both characters may have differing movesets, but it all really comes down to just basic brawling action, and once you pass the initial first few tutorial-like missions, action is definitely what you'll get. Each character can also call upon support characters in battle, selectable with a button press or a tap on the touch screen. The touch screen is where you'll select your mode changes (such as switching Naruto to his Nine-Tails form) and where most of your stat divisions are as well. Beyond that, however, there's not a whole lot of interactivity with the touch screen. Still, as it is essentially a fighting game, stretching a finger out to the touch screen (or somehow using a stylus to do it) in battle tends to break up the flow of combat. While the art style and the comedy are aspects that really make the title enjoyable, and the combat is simple enough to learn and execute, sometimes the repetitive nature of the missions can hamper the experience. After beating the 1,432nd generic bad guy, things can become a tad stale. Thankfully, it's never that way for long, as boss fights and story missions move things at a decent pace. But between those missions you'll be fighting those generic baddies again, so it depends on how much grinding you can tolerate before you get to the good stuff. Also, I found certain missions to be unnecessarily difficult at first because there were no explanations for what certain power-up items did. Some missions are timed, giving you only a minute on the clock to reach the end of the level. You're told at the beginning you can add more time by picking up icons, but they don't show you what the icon looks like. As one mission started, I saw and grabbed a bunch of batteries floating there, but it didn't add to my time, and I always ran out mid-fight. It was only after my fourth or fifth pass-through that I noticed the rocks with numbers on them. The numbers signified how many hits they would take before they broke, and when they did, stop watches would pop out, adding to your time. It was a frustrating series of failures before I finally discovered that (and even some of those rocks are booby trapped). It may not be a perfect brawler, but it's certainly a fun one, and one that any Naruto fan would enjoy. Don't let the art style dissuade you from enjoying the action here, as the RPG-esque elements of stat boosting and defense increases add a special something that future games in the genre should take note of. The humor may also not be for everyone, but if you're like me, you'll love the fact that the game doesn't take itself seriously. It fits the art style as well as the general goofy nature of the characters and situations. Plus, with it being based on Rock Lee's spin-off, you're already getting a unique experience gamers haven't yet tapped into. It's the ideal mix of fun and funny, without being too over-the-top.
Naruto SD review photo
Or "Rock Lee's Super Deformed Chibi Butt Kickin' Adventures"
Naruto fighting games tend to follow a specific formula. The console versions of the Shippuden series have been some of the best fighting games in the franchise, but the content hasn't really been super fresh, as it follows t...

New releases photo
New releases

New releases: Construction finishes on SimCity


Plus Tomb Raider, Naturo, and Castlevania
Mar 04
// Fraser Brown
This Monday heralds a week of mayoral responsibilities and the raiding of trap-laden tombs, both of which undoubtedly require similar skill sets. As much as I'm a big fan of Ms. Croft, and it seems like her latest outing is ...
New Ninja Storm 3 trailer photo
New Ninja Storm 3 trailer

Learn more about the story of Ultimate Ninja Storm 3


The will of the fire lives on
Feb 18
// Chris Carter
The long-awaited sequel to Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 has a new trailer for your perusal today, and it's basically a story vignette that showcases some of the scenarios you'll be encountering in...
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Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 DLC proves monarchies rule


DLC fit for a king (of preorders)
Jan 28
// Josh Tolentino
This March 5th, Americans will be getting the totally bitchin'-looking Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 first, whereas the rest of the world gets theirs on March 8th. That's a clear advantage, one might say....
Naruto trailer photo
Naruto trailer

Here's a new trailer for Naruto Shippuden UNS 3


Tailed Beasts Unleashed
Jan 22
// Chris Carter
I've always been a fan of the Naruto franchise when it comes to the realm of video games. Ever since the GameCube era, they really haven't dropped in quality, despite my waning interest in the series as a whole. It looks lik...
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Naruto Powerful Shippuden coming to the 3DS in March 2013


Based on the spin-off comedy show
Dec 21
// Dale North
Namco Bandai has announced that 3DS title Naruto Powerful Shippuden will be coming to North America in March 2013. This anime sidescroller comes from developers Inti Creates with a bit of help from Naruto game regulars Cyber...
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Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 trailer shows a lot of love


Sep 25
// Josh Tolentino
Now, when I say "love" here I don't mean romance scenes or anything like that (though all that incipient facial contact between Sasuke and Naruto could imply a lot), but Cyberconnect2's love for both Naruto and QTEs tha...
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New Naruto SD game by the makers of Mega Man Zero


Jul 09
// Tony Ponce
I've only been half paying attention to the licensed anime titles coming out of Japan lately. I mean, after hearing about the 1000th Dragon Ball Z iteration, it's quite easy to lose interest. But this new Naruto game for 3DS...

Review: Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations

May 03 // Ian Bonds
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: CyberConnect2Publisher: Namco Bandai GamesReleased: March 13, 2012MSRP: $59.99 What most folk will notice with this title is that, in story mode, it completely abandons the trope of exploring a hub world, RPG-style, looking for fights along the familiar locales of the series it's based on. Instead, players simply choose from three characters (two versions of Naruto -- older and younger -- plus Sasuke Uchiha, with more characters unlocked through gameplay) and fight through their storylines. The stories themselves are told through minimal cut scenes and single-panel art with voiceover. It's an interesting, albeit minimalist approach to convey a huge amount of story in a short amount of time, allowing players to get right into the action with as little exposition as possible. When it gets down to the gameplay, this is minimalist as well. There is only one attack button (aside from the long-range shiruken button), and attacks are varied with addition of direction, jump and Chakra, the energy used for special attacks. Because of this one-button attack approach, all the characters essentially play the same. Their move set may be different visually, but no complex combos to memorize means that every fighter will have the same or similar move inputs with which to pelt their opponents. Thankfully, there are support characters you can choose to call in during battle as well. Battles hinge on various dodge techniques, not the least of which is mastering the substitution, which allows you to teleport behind your opponent in the middle of their punishing combo. You are limited to only 4 of these a fight (to prevent you from repeatedly spamming the maneuver), but sadly, there is no in-game tutorial to aid you in the implementation of this move, and seeing as how crucial it is to winning fights, it's a mode definitely missed. As you battle, you can earn cards and other multipliers, which can help you customize your characters to your liking. Again, a tutorial mode here would have helped with customization and selection, but honestly, I didn't use the cards all that much anyway. It's mostly used in the online mode as it is, and skilled players will enjoy the advantages that multiple card types will offer. Speaking of multiplayer, it's your average fighting game fare, offering both player and ranked matches, as well as a tournament mode. There was no noticeable lag or latency issues, and with all the grandiose special attacks and animations, this was a good thing. Graphically, however, Generations is quite compelling. Environments are vast and expansive, character models are diverse, and everything crackles with energy and power, just as you would expect them to in the Naruto universe. The cut-scenes are a mix of 3D game animation to look like recreated footage from the series, as well as the aforementioned single-panel artwork, and while the presentation of this seems a bit odd when mixed together, it does a great job of telling the extensive story in a concise manner. In battle, the game looks fantastic, with huge effects on the specials, and fantastic 3D environments to roam and take the fights through. Beyond story mode, there are several free play options, such as single player tournaments or one-on-one offline modes. With over 70 fighters to play with and unlock, there's certainly a robust roster here, but despite some customization, it's clear the focus is on single player story, as that's where the majority of the content is found and unlocked. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a odd beast. The single player content is very good, and has tons of unlockable content to play through. The online component is also competent, and if you're a fan of the series, undoubtedly your favorite character is here. However, despite all of that, because there's no tutorial to help you with some of the more advanced techniques, coupled with the simplicity of the standard moves, it ends up feeling very shallow. How a game can feel both shallow and robust at the same time is a mystery, but Generations manages to do just that. It's a good game, just a hollow one.
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The Naruto series of games is another in a long line of fighting titles based on a popular anime series. What seems to set this series apart from the others, however, is its focus on a pick-up-and-play attitude. While many ga...

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Here's the Ninja Storm Generations launch trailer


Mar 15
// Chris Carter
The Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations launch trailer is now available for your perusal, and I'm already out of breath just saying that name out loud. Like Dragon Ball Z's video game iterations, it's inc...

Becoming a ninja in Naruto Shippuden: UNS Generations

Feb 27 // Wesley Ruscher
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed])Developer: CyberConnect2Publisher: Namco BandaiRelease: March 13, 2012 Bridging the old with the new So what would a Naruto game be without at least four different versions of the Hokage hopeful to duke it out with? With all the different styles, there’s a version of Naruto for everyone, but really it’s only the icing on the cake for fans of the franchise. On top of Narutos' pouring out of every orifice of Generations, there are another 70 fighters (and 15 support characters) from the original series and Shippuden to chose from. Many favorites that have appeared in both games make the return in this, the third in the Ultimate series, but given that the first game was a PlayStation 3 exclusive a good number of the returnees will feel new to folks that only owned an Xbox 360 or played the second game. Having the fighters from both games in one sleek, shiny new package is nice (unless you already own the two prequels) but CyberConnect2 has myriad content packed in to hopefully appease everyone. For starters, the story mode has seen some refinements and instead focuses on the game’s core mechanic -- the combat. Whether it was picking flowers in a field or engaging in boss fights that limited a player’s available move-set, the past Ultimate games often broke up the action with quaint RPG additons  -- something Namco told me during my preview fans found less than desirable to play. To offset the removal of the RPG aspects from the single-player, Generations includes over an hour of all-new animation for the 11 different stories that take players through Naruto’s past and present. While most of the stories overlap, two highly requested characters, Zabuza and Haku, are finally playable, which is sure to make many happy. The final touch for fans in Generations is the inclusion of both Japanese and English voiceovers by the same actors as the anime. Fine tuned for the fighting fan. While there is plenty of Naruto fan service in Generations, why should a fighting game enthusiast care about the latest in this series? For most devoted fighters, the game is kind of a hard sell. Each character’s inputs are identical to one another (similar to the Super Smash Bros. series) and because of that the game lacks the potential to be as technically deep as the top-tier genre titles. It’s understandable, considering that developing and balancing individual move sets for such a large roster is a monumental task, and it would limit the enjoyment of trying to learn and remember every character’s combos. But, even so, CyberConnect2 has found room to make the game more than just a button masher.  The biggest addition to Generations' combat is the ability to dash-cancel from any combo. Previous games locked players into a move once it was initiated and therefore kept the combat very one-dimensional. Performing the new move is easy (though I wasn’t pulling 50-hit combo strings together like the ringer Namco brought to battle me) and it helped me get out of few intense situations during matches. If you’ve played past games, or seen the trailers for Generations, it’s easy to see just how crazy and hectic fights can be with all the screen-filling nonsense that takes place. Having an extra defensive tactic like the dash-cancel goes a long way to keeping each fight fresh and rewarding. Beyond all the crazy Jutsu attacks, ninja support items, and backup characters that have made the series what it is today, Generations also offers the same depth in the online department a fighting game player would come to expect in a game like Soul Calibur V. Tournament mode, online lobbies, downloading replays, and the ability to watch matches while you wait are all included. The game’s combat may not be as deep on the surface as other fighters, but that doesn’t mean the online components have to be as shallow. If you're wearing Naruto pajamas right now... this is for you Perhaps the most unique aspect to Generations is its connection to a new Naruto card game that is coming out. Coinciding with the release of the video game, each card in the collectible card game (similar to Pokemon TCG or Yu-Gi-Oh!) contains a unique code that can be directly input into the game. How this works with the game is in its online battle system. Every player has a Ninja card that they can customize with a title and some specific power-up that relates to one of the cards -- 600 in all -- from the card game. These power-ups (which can contain some sort of stat boost to speed or health for example) aren't directly given to the player at the start of the battle, but instead rewarded if their card's element defeats their opponent's card’s element before the match. While players who buy packs of the card game will have access to specific stat boosts for their characters more quickly, those who choose not to buy the cards will still be able to unlock them over the course of the game. At first, this seems to give those with more disposable income an advantage, but what I found especially cool about the feature is that even though someone may have a card that gives a stronger bonus, they are not necessarily guaranteed it based on its strength alone. It's all very rock-paper-scissors in its implementation, but something that fits Generation's dynamics quite well... and at the very least offers gamers another way to enjoy the Naruto universe. Ninja conclusion... Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a game that, on the surface, has a very limited appeal outside of its fan base. It's a crazy and over-the-top brawler with a huge cast of characters that, frankly, is a little overwhelming to non-fans. But tucked behind all its anime ancestry, is a sequel to a series that is looking to bridge much more than two Naruto generations together. With all its bells and whistles, it's looking to open up a world of fighting games to a generation that maybe missed the genre's boom in the 90s. It's worth keeping an eye on when it lands on March 13th.
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If there's one thing I know squat about, it’s the Naruto universe. It’s not because I don’t like anime -- I love it, but the boy in the orange track suit and all his ninja buddies never really appealed to...

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The last Naruto Generations trailer you'll ever need


Feb 08
// Josh Tolentino
Naturally, it won't be the last last trailer, seeing as we're a few weeks from the actual launch of *deep breath* Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm: Generations. Namco Bandai will surely release a last burst of promo po...
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A LOT of ninjas are in Naruto Ultimate Storm Generations


Dec 22
// Josh Tolentino
A whopping seventy-two of them, in fact, and that's just counting the playable characters. The number swells considerably when you look at support-only characters and move-set variations on the same character (there are s...
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SoulCalibur 5, more announced at Namco Bandai Level Up


May 11
// Conrad Zimmerman
We're getting a ton of news, fast and furious-like, from Namco Bandai's annual Level Up press conference. First off, the biggest news is that SoulCalibur 5 has been announced, which ought to get a lot of juices flowing amongs...

Preview: Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive for PSP

Feb 04 // Max Scoville
Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive (PSP)Developer: Premium Agency Inc Publisher: Namco BandaiTo be released: February 22 I’ll be honest. I never got into Naruto, so I’m a bit out of touch. I stopped watching Toonami after the Buu Saga ended, so bear with me. From what I’ve gathered, Naruto is about ninja school, and learning to be a better ninja, and fighting ninjas, and so forth. I’m totally cool with this concept, but I probably couldn’t pick any of the characters out of a lineup.The story of Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive -- or NS: KD from now on, because typing that out is getting old -- is all original. It’s not based on anything in the manga or anime, so there’s something new to look forward to. Another bonus is that it includes both Japanese and English voice options, which I think is fantastic. Dubbed voices are nails on a chalkboard if you’re used to the Japanese audio. As I mentioned, the gameplay is a lot of punching and kicking. Special moves and so forth, what you’d expect from an anime game about ninjas. The emphasis co-op is what makes it interesting, as you’re always fighting alongside three other ninjas. When I played with one of Namco Bandai’s PR guys, we each picked our characters, and then picked the computer’s characters. Ideally, you’d play this game co-op with three friends over local Wi-Fi, but if not, the AI’s got your back. In the mission we played, there were giant wild dogs terrorizing a village, and being respectable ninjas, we took it upon ourselves to beat the crap out of those dogs. There are six grades of difficulty: C, B, A, S, S+, and S++. In spite of the fact that we were playing a B-grade mission, one of the easier grades, I still died twice, and my teammates had to resurrect me. The whole teamwork dynamic pays off when players go into Kizuna Drive. This is when everyone combines their attacks on a common enemy to do increased damage. In the game, this requires stunning an enemy, then hitting triangle and circle at the same time. Your teammates will gather around, the enemy is airborne, and it’s all a matter of timing your attacks for when the he is passed to you. It’s like volleyball, except with ninjas. If the enemy is flying towards you, and you time your attack wrong, you’ll get hurt. Just like in regular volleyball.I think Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive shows a lot of promise, and I wish I’d had more time to play with it. It’s obvious the missions are short enough to keep the gameplay fun-sized, which is how handheld games should be, but it looks like some real work went towards making it an overall immersive experience.
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Naruto fans rejoice, because Namco Bandai has another game headed your way. Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive is a PSP exclusive that’s coming out February 22. I got a chance to play it on Wednesday, and I thought I&rsq...

Review: Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2

Nov 10 // Josh Tolentino
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 (PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], Xbox 360)Developer: Cyberconnect2Publisher: Namco BandaiReleased: October 19, 2010MSRP: $59.99 For those unfamiliar, Naruto is a popular Japanese anime series about the adventures and exploits of a bunch of superpowered ninjas with a penchant for beating the snot out of each other. That Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 happens to be a fighting game could only be appropriate. And it's a pretty simple one, to boot. There's a button for ranged attacks, one for melee attacks, one for jumping around the open arenas, two buttons for summoning support attacks from selected teammates, one for blocking (a well-timed press of which will teleport players right behind their opponents), and one for "chakra". That chakra button is the most important one, because it serves as a modifier for any given action in the game. Tap it and tiny throwing knives become really big throwing knives, standard melee attacks become powerful special moves, and slow jumps become instant dashes. Tap it twice, and the next attack unleashes a huge, flashy "Ultimate Jutsu". Then hold it down to charge all that spent energy back up. Players of the original Ultimate Ninja Storm game will find the system identical to the first, except with two major additions. First is the "Team Gauge", which fills up as support attacks are summoned during the match. With a full Team Gauge, support characters start to jump in automatically, shielding players while they charge, interrupting opponents' combo strings, or even throwing in sucker punches to set up a juggle. At its highest level, cooperative "Team Ultimate" jutsu can be triggered to up the damage output considerably. Besides the Team Gauge is the "Awakening", a temporary power-up mode that becomes available as players suffer major damage. Awakened characters move faster, hit harder, are immune to Ultimate Jutsu. In some cases, Awakening can change a character's appearance and move set entirely, such as Naruto turning into his Four-Tailed Fox form. The result is an accessible freewheeling, fighter that moves at a furious, hyperactive pace. The world is shaken and the skies rent with every jutsu spammed. Chaos is at any player's fingertips, and one need not master the quarter-circle to let it loose. With forty-four characters drawn from Naruto's myriad cast (plus a guest star from Tekken), all with their own jutsus, alternate costumes, and multiple variations of support attack (offensive, defensive, and balanced), it would be more than enough to make for a full dose of fan-service fun. But no. Developer Cyberconnect2 went whole-hog on the thing, stuffing the game to bursting with deep, substantial content, most of it jammed into the game's single-player "Ultimate Adventure" mode. The Ultimate Adventure is more than any dedicated fighting game's story or arcade modes. Following the plot of the first 175-odd episodes of the Naruto Shippuden TV series (yes, that's one hundred seventy-five episodes), players take control of Naruto and his friends as they barrel from adventure to adventure, complete with map exploration, side quests, fully voiced cutscenes, and shops from which to buy consumable "ninja tools" to use in battle. And then there are the boss fights (or "guided actions"). Ultimate Ninja Storm 2's real party piece, these story-critical duels are heavily scripted and lovingly choreographed. Each is a grand event, going far beyond the typical beat-a-guy-who's-clearly-cheating fare offered by other fighters. Of all things, boss fights even include Quick Time Events, where button prompts power spectacular action set-pieces that amp up the on-screen action to further extremes than even what's actually present in the source material. Some key fights go so far as to dabble in other genres' mechanics. One aerial chase scene evokes shades of Panzer Dragoon, and another fight has players holding off a writhing sea of snakes as if playing a rail-shooter's turret-gun sequence. A few even take dramatic cues from the likes of Metal Gear Solid and God of War.  With all of this narrative-driven content, Ultimate Adventure mode is essentially a light JRPG that uses a fighting game as its battle system. Players can grind "Storm Points" to unlock new characters, collect materials to craft new ninja tools, and save up cash to buy cutscenes, music, and pictures to ogle at any time. They can even give presents to other cast members in a rudimentary, Persona-esque "Friendship" system to view special events and quest lines. Backing all that craziness up are some of the most spectacular visuals available on current-generation platforms. Perfectly implemented cell-shading, fluid animation and flashy special effects make it feel like one is actually playing the show. The splendor only fades during the more static cutscenes, wherein the lower-detail 3D models reveal some unfortunately jagged edges. While the Ultimate Adventure is where Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 shines brightest, it also contains some of the game's weakest moments, the otherwise hitch-free experience dampened by some unfortunate, anachronistic design decisions. Though the tedious minigaming of the first installment was thankfully stripped out, the world exploration and JRPG-style storytelling that replaced them shoehorns in a lot of somewhat less tedious (but still tedious) walking around. If the boss battles are the best part of the game, why should players have to backtrack all the way to where they happened in order to unlock the ability to replay them? And if the fun of regular battle is seeing a lot of characters belt out their unique take on ninja chaos, why should players have to grind out so many Storm Points to unlock everything? Given the obscene amount of content already available on tap (between 15-20 hours if you pursue every quest line, more if you grind for money and points), the last thing Ultimate Ninja Storm 2's campaign needed was an arbitrary time sink, especially when the core fighting mechanics are so simple to learn and master. While Trophies/Achievements, local versus mode play, and the ability to go online in ranked and custom matches relieve some of the pressure to grind, the game still veers dangerously close to boring players before they have a chance to experience the wealth of content it can offer. This is particularly true for players ambivalent in their affection for Naruto itself. Being based on a tween-targeted cartoon widely regarded as a successor to the Dragon Ball franchise, the plot isn't exactly gripping or complex. All things considered, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 remains a rock-solid, highly accessible game that's as much fun to watch as to play. Though held back by some ill-conceived design gaffes, it's still chock-full of meaningful content sure to delight any fan of Naruto or anime games in general. True fans should rejoice at being able to actually play their beloved show, prospective fans can consider this an effective primer for the series at length, and non-fans should at least try it, especially if they can pair off with a player willing to do the grinding for them.
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Most games based on a licensed property are terrible. It's a sad truth of the gaming world, and many players have accepted this as a foregone conclusion. Licensed games are bad until proven good. Merely tolerable licensed ...

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Pre-order bonuses for Naruto Shippuden are Narutastic


Aug 25
// Conrad Zimmerman
It's funny. If you look at the above screenshot and read aloud the words that you see in order from top to bottom, you'll be echoing what usually goes on in my mind whenever I see anything related to Naruto. Maybe I'm getting...
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E3 10: Naruto: Ninja Storm 2 looks like the real thing!


Jun 16
// Bob Muir
[As originally posted on Japanator] Or even better, in some ways! I'll admit I stopped following Naruto a while ago, but watching the new trailer for Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 makes me wish I had kept up with ...
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Due to Destructoid's downtime since Sunday morning, we're extending some of our 25 days of giving contests! For our Aion contest, simple tell us an animal, product, whatever that would benefit from having angel-like wings. Do...







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