Bandai Namco hosted a pre-Jump Festa 2016 press event at the company’s headquarters where Producer Miho Nakagawa was on hand to talk all things Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4.
Marking the sixth and final installment of the Ninja Storm series, it’ll also welcome the debut of the franchise across PS4 and Xbox One, and PSLS was fortunate to quiz Nakagawa about the various improvements that the new systems afford, along with how the story will continue the Naruto arc.
Like all of our interviews that will be rolling out from Jump Festa, our all-too-brief discussion with Nakagawa was held in conjunction with the folks over at Geek Culture.
Starting with the battle system, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 introduces something called the Leadership feature, can you tell us a little about that and how it changes the dynamic?
Nakagawa: The major change is now players can control three characters simultaneously. Not only that, but now because there are three characters in the one team, you can switch between them at will. Though this also brings up new challenges, encouraging players to experiment with three different characters. Not only that, but because enemy groups comprise three characters as well, they can plan against you. So it’s going to give more strategic depth to the series
There are a handful of new features in the battle system alongside this strategic element, namely Counter Attack and Guard Break. Have they been implemented to make Naruto more accessible, perhaps to newcomers who haven’t played a Naruto game before?
Nakagawa: Of course, those Counter Attack and Guard Break elements can be created and implemented by core members and newcomers to the series. And that’s a trait that extends to the Leadership feature that you explained before, or maybe a costume break where you land in a battle and do damage
Also, we have a system called elemental effect, so if you land a fireball, the splash damage will continue to hurt the enemy through time. Those kind of battle elements are keeping the enjoyment of the series firmly in place, perhaps even more so than previous Naruto games.
Generally speaking, I think the visuals look really good. Compared to previous Naruto games, how has the design process been different, particularly in relation to PlayStation 4?
Nakagawa: Because now that [Ultimate Ninja Storm 4] is releasing for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which have a tremendous amount of power when compared to PS3 and Xbox 360, of course. Developing for the new platform gives us more options, more possibilities, so what we couldn’t develop last generation is much more achievable now. Not only graphically but also other original game elements have been boosted too thinks to the options that current-gen consoles give us.
For the character options, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 includes both young Naruto versus when he was younger. Is there a story mode that it follows? And will this dynamic feature in the narrative?
Nakagawa: In the free battles if you choose a mature Naruto against a younger Naruto, it’s possible in the free battles, though that’s not directly related to the story mode or anything like that.
In the story mode, it’s going to begin at the end of Storm 3 right though the end of the manga. We have another mode called adventure mode, and it has a fragment of memory, allowing players to attach to that before going back in history to see what happened before.
This is really angled towards people who are perhaps not familiar with the series, as they can jump through the past of Naruto at their own pace.
A special thanks to Bandai Namco and in particular Miho Nakagawa for answering some of our questions. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is slated to launch across Japan, Europe and the Americas in early February across PS4, Xbox One and PC.