At Bandai Namco’s Global Gamers Day event in Las Vegas, PlayStation LifeStyle’s Dan Oravasaari got to sit down with CyberConnect2 CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama and discuss the upcoming Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution title and how they have been able to continually create new content for an already incredibly popular IP.
Have you found it difficult to expand and reiterate on the Naruto Storm titles each year?
Of course, each time we create one of the Naruto Storm games we research about the anime and other extras too, to express the super anime expression in the game. Every time we create a game, or release a game, we think we did it, we did the best game. But, after that when we start a new project, then we think that we need to overcome our previous games too. So, that is why we had to keep researching the anime, keep researching which platform is, the balance is and what the fans demand. So, everything we do is research and study the demands and integrate it into the one to overcome the previous title. So, that is the challenge that CyberConnect2 overcomes every time, but it is also the fun part of game development for Naruto.
As you expanded the roster, where there any difficulties in keeping the characters feeling fresh?
We have been taking care of the Naruto game titles for over ten years and, of course, Naruto himself has been getting powerful and has been changing a lot and as well his rival Sasuke too. So, it gives us a chance to catch up on each of the characters, include as much as possible and examine their expressions every time. But, that challenge is what fans are always looking for, what fans are expecting for a new game. Is this new character going to be in it? Is this new style going to be in? This variation? We are fans and we think about it too, so we try and figure out what fans are most expecting, including these characters motivations. Each time we try and include as much as possible.
As we have seen numerous characters from the show pass on or leave, how do you expand on a character that is no longer evolving?
Those characters that are not existing anymore as of the latest episodes, we like to bring them with new skills and new movements. First of all, we try to imagine what it would be like if they were around at this moment, after that, we make a document and propose it to the original author Masashi Kishimoto. How to do the Jutsu? How to do the movement? And of course, we have the communication between us, and after that Kishimoto sensei has to approve the original plan and movement. Then we implement it, create it and put it in the games. So, that it is officially approved by Kishimoto sensei and that is what fans are looking for, if those characters no longer exist, this is what happened if they did exist.
Will the new Combo Ultimate Jutsu team attack only work with certain combinations of characters? Or will any combination work?
In the Combo Ultimate Jutsu, it will be activated by selecting a specific pairing. Some Combo Ultimate Jutsu will be activated by using your character and two support characters, and some will be activated by your character and one support character. So, two characters or three characters can unleash a Combo Ultimate Jutsu, if you select those specific characters. There are a lot of those Combo Ultimate Jutsu included and all of the fans who look for this character will have close associations with this character, so maybe, I can imagine those two can unleash. If they select it, then they can unleash that special attack.
You have added the origin story for the Akatsuki, as well as The Two Uchiha story lines into Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, will these be integrated within the main story? Or will they be segmented?
So, those two stories, the origin of Akatsuki and The Two Uchiha story are two separate stories. However, The Two Uchiha story has some coordinated story with what is currently happening with the animation that is broadcasting in Japan right now, so the story is based on Itachi and the story. CyberConnect2, the developers and also the studio Pierrot, responsible for the animation for Naruto, their director communicates with us a lot and we try to make a coherent story between the game and the show.
Actually, we have two different exclusive animations, but actually we have one more – which we cannot tell you details right now, but we have three of them and we will tell you when the time comes.
As you have already announced the Day-1 and pre-order DLC content, have you already planned or started working on any more DLC for Revolution?
We do have Day-1 bonus DLC and pre-order DLC, and because we had some of the DLC on Naruto Storm 3 too, we might have a chance to do some kind of DLC for Revolution as well. So, stay tuned for more announcements in the future.
All of Shippuden’s story up to Storm 3 will be included in Revolution, but will there be anything for players who have already gone through that content? And will there be any benefits for players who happen to have an existing save file?
Of course there are lots of characters in this game too, and of course it is possible that if they played the main modes like Ninja World Tournament from beginning to end, they could unlock some characters. But, if a player has some previous save data, for example, Naruto Storm 3 saved data, they can unlock a certain amount of characters in Revolution. That is going to be one of the bonuses, plus they get some specific items that can be unlocked, which can be useful for the end gameplay. If the player has the saved data, they have an opportunity.
I have always loved the open world portions of the previous Naruto Storm titles, have you ever considered moving away from the arena combat style in Storm? Like an RPG or action-adventure title?
As an idea for the huge open world RPG type, we understand that some people like to move around their favorite character and look for new possibilities of the gameplay, also there is a lot of attractive drama in the story too. However, I really don’t think the majority of Naruto fans are looking for such open world actions or missions, and then, of course, trying to make an adventure into the open world with a new and original story, that doesn’t exist, is off from what anime fans are expecting. Also, there are a lot of characters in there, so it mixes up the concept and risks breaking the atmosphere. So, currently we are not really thinking about that, and it will cost a lot. [laughs]
Is there anything you would like to say to fans, and especially fans who have not had a chance to jump in on a Naruto Storm title?
We are creating this game for all of the fans who have not seen all of the manga, who have not seen all of the anime, so they can also enjoy this title. Of course, of we are looking for the core audience who are younger, who are Naruto fans, so that is what we are looking for first. We are creating this game with simple controls, dynamic actions and Jutsus, but now in this game we have totally refined the battle system, so that core fighting game fans can enjoy it. So we believe that Street Fighter fans, King of Fighters or Tekken fans can be satisfied with playing this game with strategy and tactics. It is not only for casual fans, but also something fighting game fans can enjoy, so we are looking forward to bring a new ninja experience to all players.
Something that I am sure many people will be wondering, are you currently in the works to bring a Naruto title to the PS4? Or even do a Revolution release for the PS4?
Without regarding the Naruto titles, but as of CyberConnect2, we are of course starting researching and studying about the next-gen console system. So, we are preparing for any next-gen upcoming titles, but the install base for the PS4 and Xbox One isn’t as big as the PS3 and 360, since they just came out. But, when the time comes, when a lot of people, when our audience demands it we want to bring a next-gen experience, and we are preparing for that time right now.
Stay tuned to PSLS as we bring you more news regarding this title and many others.