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Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm

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Is a 3-D cel-shaded fighting game developed by CyberConnect2 and published by Namco Bandai Games. It was released for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) across North America and Europe in November 2008 and in Japan on January 15, 2009. It is based on the popular anime and manga series Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto, and the first installment of the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series on the PS3.

Gameplay

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm retains many of the gameplay elements from earlier installments of the Ultimate Ninja series. The game features cel-shaded graphics that "will break the barrier between anime and video game". Although there is no online play, downloadable content is available in the form of extra support characters, alternative costumes, and new missions. Unlike previous games, where players fight on a two-dimensional background, Ultimate Ninja Storm allows players to fight in a completely three-dimensional setting. The story mode loosely covers the events of the anime up to episode 135. Between missions players are able to explore the Hidden Leaf Village, which acts as a central hub for the story mode, and access more missions. There is an exciting reference to the Konoha and its people, including Shinobi and civilians. Players are allowed to use the free roaming control between missions. Examples of places include Naruto's House, The Hokage Tower, and The Ninja Academy. There are intense replica battles of parts from the manga and the anime, but cannot actually be explored inside. Epic parts of the first few seasons are covered by this game.

One of the new features introduced to the series in Ultimate Ninja Storm is "Awakening Mode", a transformation that can be activated when a player loses a certain amount of health during a match. The health requirement for each character differs based on how powerful the transformation is. Once activated, the character gains new abilities, speed, and stronger attacks. A few of the characters in the game gain entirely new movesets after transforming. With the d-pad, players can use preset items during a match that either damage the opponent or provide various status effects like increasing attack power, or lowering the opponent's defense. Players are also able to customize their character's jutsu and select two support characters to use in a match. Returning to the game from previous installments is "jutsu clash" mode, which is initiated if both players activate their special attack at the same time. During this mode, both players have to press the corresponding button as fast as possible in order to knock away their opponent.

The game includes 25 playable characters, each of which can also be used as a support character during battle. Ten additional support-only characters are available as free downloadable content released over the five month period that followed the game's release.

Development

The game was first unveiled in September 2007, under the code name Naruto PS3 Project. Namco Bandai thought the title would include Ultimate Ninja but they asked the fans to get a good name for the game. In April 2008 the game was officially named Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, in addition, the developers allowed fans to choose the final front cover for the game out of a possible six.

Hiroshi Matsuyama, one of the creators of the game, commented that the staff wanted to try and remove the borderline between the anime and actual gameplay. They wanted to reach an effect where people actually look at the scenes as anime rather than a game. The core concept of the game is that of a one on one battle. Though the storyline from the game is based on the first 135 episodes of the anime series, the producers picked out key areas within the story, effectively forming a line from the first to the 135th episode.

A playable demo of the game was released on Sony's PlayStation Network on July 17, 2008. Only Naruto Uzumaki and Kakashi Hatake were playable and only one stage was included. The official North American release date of the game was confirmed in a trailer shown during the 2008 Tokyo Game Show.

Releases

A limited edition version of Ultimate Ninja Storm was available to those who pre-order the game at select retailers. It includes a steel book case with an alternate art plastic slip cover, two exclusive cards for the Naruto collectible card game, a CD of the game's soundtrack, and an individually numbered "Laser Cel" depicting Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha. In Europe, the game was released in November 7, 2008, and in Australia in November 20, 2008. The Japanese version of the game was released in January 15, 2009 under the name of Naruto: Narutimate Storm.

Reception

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
Metacritic 74/100
Review scores
Publication Score
Electronic Gaming Monthly B-
GameSpot 7.5/10
GameTrailers 7.5/10
IGN 8.4/10

IGN gave the game an 8.4 out of 10, praising it for its "phenomenal visuals" and the variety of things that can be done between missions. It noted that the single-button combat might turn away hardcore gamers, but found the fast-paced action and chakra management system to be redeeming factors. GameSpot gave the game a 7.5 out of ten saying it wasn't a bad game but it wasn't a great one either. Electronic Gaming Monthly praised the game's graphics, but commented that some parts of the game system have issues.

As of July 2009, 83,868 units have been sold in Japan. It was also a winner of the Excellence Prizes in the Entertainment Division from the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival.

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