TGS 2008: Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Preshow Impressions

We take on the toad king Gamabunta in this latest look at Naruto's flashy first outing on the PlayStation 3.

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TOKYO--It won't be much longer before PlayStation 3 owners can get their hands on Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, with the newest game based on the popular anime set for release in less than a month's time. At its pre-TGS media briefing this week, Namco Bandai gave GameSpot yet another look at Storm, showcasing another couple of characters as well as the first boss fight gamers can expect to find in the game's single-player campaign.

First up was a look at Ultimate Ninja Storm's straight-up versus mode, with developer CyberConnect2 president Hiroshi Matsuyama taking the reins of the Third Hokage, while the AI opponent was the villainous Orochimaru. As with our earlier previews, our initial impression of this game was that it looks stunning, with its cel-shaded graphics looking uncannily like an episode of the anime. Matsuyama made quick work of his AI opponent, with his Third Hokage pulling out increasingly impressive chakra-powered moves featuring a large fighting staff. Ultimate Ninja Storm will feature 25 playable characters from the show, with 10 more included to act as support characters which can be used to chain combos during fights.

Next up was another look at the game's main single-player campaign--Ultimate Mission mode--which re-creates key moments in the anime show's first 135 episodes (while adding some original campaigns into the mix). The section we saw was the first boss fight, with rookie ninja Naruto having to battle the accidentally summoned Toad King Gamabunta. All of the controls in versus mode carry over into Ultimate Mission, with one button each for attacks, jump, chakra, and projectiles.

The first half of the fight against the gigantic Gamabunta consisted of dodging his large, water-based projectile offense, and attacking the toad's hands when they got within reach. After a certain amount of damage was wiped off the boss' health bar, a quick God of War-style minigame popped up--in this case, it was simply to press right on the D pad within a set time to avoid Gamabunta's strike with a massive baton. Failure to input the right command doesn't look like it will incur too much of a penalty, as our demo tester got smacked down by Gamabunta but was able to replay right at the start of the minigame sequence. After a few more attacks, another button-pressing minigame popped up, with the action onscreen changing to an impressive cinematic view of the action. Naruto leaps high into the air and initiates a clone jutsu, with the hundreds of Narutos linking together to form a massive chain which smacks into Gamabunta's head. That wasn't the end of the Toad King, however, with Gamabunta retaliating with a powerful water bullets attack, which prompted another button-pressing sequence which--when successfully done--resulted in the clone Naruto's joining together to shield the main Naruto from assault.

Having just recently seen the sequence in the show which that previous bit of gameplay was derived from, we can safely say CyberConnect2 has nailed the hyperkinetic action and look of the original anime down pat. Keep it locked to GameSpot for more on this impressive-looking title, including a full review, soon.

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