If you've been keeping an eye on the video game landscape, you might have noticed more than a few games based on Naruto bursting onto the scene. You'd think main character Naruto Uzumaki had just performed his signature Shadow Clone Jutsu move and spawned a small army of lookalikes ready to do battle. The latest entry in the wall of Naruto games comes from Namco Bandai, which, along with developer CyberConnect2, is prepping Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm for the PlayStation 3. We had a chance to try out the upcoming demo of the game, which is set to be released in the coming weeks.
The demo features two playable characters to try, Naruto and his teacher Kakashi. Additionally, there are cameos from Naruto's rival Sasuke, his gal pal Sakura, and team leader Guy, all of whom appear as support characters you can call in during a fight. You'll be able to duke it out against the CPU or a friend on a smallish training stage that has you fighting on land and water. The demo focuses on Ninja Storm's combat system, which is simple but accessible, and uses four buttons. You'll attack with the circle button, jump with X, toss shuriken with square, and access your chakra to enhance your basic attacks. Overall, the system feels solid and responsive. Although there were aspects of the control system that reminded us of the recent Dragon Ball Z game, Ninja Storm has a unique feel to it that appears to offer more user-controlled options in battle.
The game's presentation sticks faithfully to the sights and sounds of its source material. The character models feature nuanced cel-shading that captures the look of the anime. The environments look clean and serve as a good framework for the action. The various attacks and animations for all of the characters offer a host of subtle touches that give the motion during combat a surprisingly elegant look. And the special effects and over-the-top animations during battle and for everyone's special attacks were impressive complements to the fluid action. The demo highlights one of the little audio touches that CyberConnect2 is putting in for fans: Japanese and English voice work for the characters. The use of the anime voice actors and assorted sound effects from the anime should please fans looking for authenticity.
Based on this small slice of the action in Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, we're anxious to get our hands on the full game. The fighting system has a nice, tight feel to it that we're eager to explore. The game is confidently capturing the feel of the anime so far, which leaves us hungry to see more. The demo will be available in the coming weeks on the PlayStation Network. Look for more updates on Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm in the next few weeks at E3. The game is currently slated to ship later this year exclusively for the PlayStation 3.