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Daniel Robson goes behind the scenes on the new Naruto PS3 game

Ten years after Naruto first made the leap to PlayStation 2 and after worldwide series sales of 9.8 million units, the next instalment, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, will hit PS3 in spring 2013. I caught up with the president of Naruto developer CyberConnect2 Hiroshi Matsuyama (yes, that’s him in the picture) at Bandai Namco’s Tokyo office just before Tokyo Game Show to see the game in action – it captures the anime beautifully, with occasional manga-esque black and white frames.

“When we released the previous game, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations, in spring, we had mixed feedback,” says Matsuyama. “Players were pleased to see such a large character roster, but they wanted to know where all the boss battles were. So now we present boss battles.

“In the middle of a battle between Naruto and Sasuke, the game will allow the player to choose between two options. The player can choose left or right to choose which battle they want to play, in this case against a younger or older Sasuke. These decisions won’t affect the story too much, but they will dictate the difficulty level of the battle.”

“There’s a different boss battle about halfway through the story; it’s between Naruto and Nine-Tails. The last boss battle was a regular one-on-one, but we have lots of boss battles where you’re up against a massive enemy. Again you can make a decision, this time whether to go up against Nine-Tails alone or to fight with your teacher, Killer Bee, alongside you. Let’s choose to fight with Killer Bee.

“Despite being so massive, Nine-Tails is very, very quick, and does not stay in one place for long, so it’s very important for the player to keep an eye on its movements. Killer Bee can help you significantly against the boss. After dealing a certain amount of damage to the boss, we enter the latter half of the battle; the Nine-Tails now has a new set of attacks and is harder to fight against.”

Generations had 72 playable characters, but this game will have even more than that. These on the screen right now are two new characters: Mifune, a samurai; and Hanzo, who has been reincarnated.

“Since Mifune is very much a samurai, all his moves revolve around his katana. We’ve spent a lot of time putting detail into every sword swipe. One of our staff has a sword licence, so he was able to bring it to the office for reference. You can’t carry a sword around in Japan without a licence – you’d be arrested on the spot. So having someone who could actually bring a katana to the company was very helpful. We were able to use the sword in our motion-capture room to act out the different stances and capture them perfectly.”

“Every character appears in the anime or the manga. My top priority is to satisfy the fans and to remain faithful to the series, so we worked very closely with Studio Pierrot (Naruto’s anime studio) and Shueisha (manga publisher) and we had their supervision at all times.

“One last thing: On 13 October we will be at New York Comic Con to host a panel and we will make a very big announcement, so I hope you’ll look out for that!”

In the meantime, the latest chapter of Naruto Shippuden is out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.


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