Matt Kamen has a sneak peek at the newest Naruto Shippuden game
While over 40 distinct Naruto game titles across almost a dozen console formats have been released in Japan, here in the UK we’ve mainly enjoyed those released by Namco Bandai. Chiefly, that’s been the Ultimate Ninja series, which enjoyed five games on the PlayStation 2 – three covering the events of the original Naruto series, two progressing onto adaptations of the Shippuden sequel’s events – before jumping to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with the Ultimate Ninja Storm line. Perhaps most popular of all, however, are those titles released on the PlayStation Portable, delivering top-tier graphics and home console levels of finesse for gamers on the go.
The PSP is where you’ll find the latest release, the lengthily-titled Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact. Developed by Cyberconnect2, it’s set to offer large-scale battles taken straight from the world of Naruto, pitting you against hordes of enemies at a time. A new ‘Rush Battle System’ will see you slicing through up to 100 enemies at once, while more conventional one-on-one battles connect more important moments in the plot.
The game’s story mode sees you fighting through the Naruto Shippuden saga, from Naruto’s return and re-training in the earliest episodes, through his battles against the malicious Akatsuki organisation, right up to some of the most recent developments from the series. The mythical Tailed Beasts – the fearsomely powerful creatures at the centre of Naruto lore – would appear to take the place of some of the game’s bosses too, so expect some large scale battles against the monsters. Luckily, you won’t be alone in your endeavours, as you’ll be able to link up with nearby friends for a two-player co-op mode.
Although the game is perfect for fans of the anime, if CyberConnect2’s previous Naruto games are anything to go on – and this certainly seems to be following in their footsteps – Impact should still be a solid, competently made and enjoyable action brawler even for those who don’t care for the series. Visually, it accurately captures all the characters and their signature jutsu techniques that fans are familiar with, delivering a gorgeous cel-shaded style that brings you closer to actually playing the anime than ever before.
With Impact’s release not due until the end of the year, expect a few surprises to be revealed about the game between now and then. That said, if you just can’t wait for it to hit shelves, you could do worse than picking up the recent Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive – a hybrid action-RPG also for the PSP, that tells an original story in the Naruto-verse – or Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 for PS3 and 360, which boasts over 40 playable characters. It’s fair to say, when it comes to Naruto titles, gamers are spoilt for choice!