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Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Demo Impressions

Those who purchased the second issue of Qore were blessed with the privilege of downloading the demo of CyberConnect 2’s Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm a couple of weeks ago. I was a bit jealous. Since watching the trailer, I was mesmerized by this PS3 exclusive anime fighter. The fluidity and quality of its animation was unmatched. I even thought it was the epitome of anime fighting games thus far. Today, Sony put the demo up on the PSN store for the rest of us peasants. So I decided to take on this ‘Naruto’ and see if it’ll meet my lofty expectations.

If isn’t apparent yet, I’m no Naruto fan. I know of it, but I don’t watch the show. Forgive my ignorance, but I’ve always thought of it as a Dragon Ball clone for the new generation. (If I’m wrong, tell me.) Straight away, I was given the fan appreciated option of selecting either the English or Japanese voice overs. Giving the fans the choice is always a plus. I found the screaming of special attacks to be authentic enough, but the actual sound of fists meeting faces? Not so much. It appeared to be absent or incredibly muted. It’s not like Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit where every punch and kick is made audible. If Ultimate Ninja Storm’s implementation is an accurate representation of the source material, I apologize. I just felt it didn’t provide enough feedback.

What surprised me most about Ultimate Ninja Storm was how the game played. It’s definitely not a fighter like Burst Limit. In fact, the closest thing I could relate it to would be the Budokai Tenkaichi series where it’s more of a simulator of the anime than anything else. There’s only one attack button and a limited variation on how the basic physical attacks are performed. Want more combos? Mash the attack button repeatedly. Fancy an air combo? Mash the attack button while the opponent is in midair. Throwing shurikens is as easy tapping the square button and since this game is a free roaming 3D fighter, it’s very automatic. Double tapping the jump button triggers a mad dash towards the opponent making it easy to get close and unleash fists and kicks of fury. All this is nice, but I know you don’t care about shuriken throwing and simple physical attacks like this. You want to know about specials.

The trademarks of the series look phenomenal. The dramatic in your face camera angles sell these chakra based moves well. I just recently praised Burst Limit for eliminating the need to charge for energy and what do I find in this game? A dedicated energy chakra charging button. To my surprise, the folks at CyberConnect 2 were quite clever in their implementation of this chakra button and the special moves which require it. To perform any of the specials, all you need to do is tap the chakra button and then another button. For instance, tapping your chakra (get it? I know it’s awful…) and the attack button unleashes Naruto’s trademark energy attack. When the character’s chakra bar is full, a super flashy and over the top super can be initiated through a double tapping the chakra button followed by the attack button. It’s quite the display which is accompanied by a “press the buttons that show up” sequence. I’m guessing this is meant to simulate the hand gestures. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult to pull off and after landing a couple of these ultimate attacks will floor opponents quite easily.

The fights are even easier if you call upon either of the two partners you’re teamed up with as well. They along with items such as bombs and minor healing items are limited, but I never felt the need to use them. Although, I will admit that having them seamlessly drop in and throw a couple punches while your character is in mid combo does look awesome. I wonder if they can be summoned to perform additional attacks or even ultimate attacks with you. Unfortunately, since the demo offered the bare minimum’s worth of instructions, I’m left wondering.

So that’s pretty much the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm demo. The demo only offered one stage and two playable characters including Naruto and some dude named… <looks through Wikipedia> …Kakashi Hatake. It’s obvious this a game made for its fans and I’m pretty sure it’ll satisfy those who’ve been seeking that Naruto simulator. I personally would have appreciated more of a fighter, but what I’ve played so far was solid regardless. For everyone else? I’d give this demo a try just to experience the fantastic animation work – it’s that good.

For more information, visit the official website.

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