Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2: demo impressions & HD playthrough video

The first Ultimate Ninja Storm game, developed by CyberConnect2 and published by Namco Bandai Games exclusively for PS3, was a fairly standard fighter by all accounts – but it did receive wide praise for just how well it captured the visual style of the Naruto animé.

This may be the jumping off point for many readers, given that an inherent interest in the subject matter is pretty much a requirement. Those who know nothing about Naruto beyond the obvious would probably either not care or be too distracted wondering why a ninja would dress in bright orange to pay attention to whether the game was any good or not. That said, there may be other aspects of the game which could lure in new players, including a cameo appearance by Lars Alexandersson of the Tekken franchise and an easy to use control scheme.

A few days ago the demo was released onto the Japanese PlayStation Network Store, which gave us a chance for some hands on time with it. The demo will eventually also be made available on both the US and EU networks and most likely Xbox Live as well, given that this sequel is branching out over both platforms this time around.

The demo featured a story themed boss battle first shown at E3. Playing as Naruto and with Sakura as backup, you take on Kakashi in order to steal two bells attached to his belt. Fans will recognise this as an early point in the Shippuden series and will be happy to know that the game covers up to the end of the Pain story arc.

The first thing that’s obvious from the demo is that the visuals have been further improved to such a degree that it looks identical to the animé. Remove the GUI and you could fool someone into thinking you were watching (one of the better animated…) episodes of it.

Settling in to playing the demo was easy thanks to the control scheme being identical to the first game. All combos are done using a single button (circle in the PS3’s case) and change depending on context. One button is used for projectiles, one for charging up Chakra or preparing special attacks and ‘ouji’ (ultimate finishers, if you prefer, which are locked in the demo). The directional pad is used for shortcuts to use equipped items such as explosive tags, and the shoulder buttons are used for blocking and throws. Franchise specific actions return, such as leaving behind a piece of wood and teleporting instantly behind an opponent if you block at just the right time.

Being a boss battle lifted from the story mode, along with the standard fight mechanics the demo also featured Quick Time Events and stage destruction. It is unclear whether the stage destruction/transformation only features in these boss battles or are present across all modes. Quick Time Events can be off putting, but thankfully Storm 2 lets you instantly retry any failed presses and usually rewards you with a comical moment rather than any form of direct punishment for a wrong press.

The demo is fairly short but does give a good example of what the story mode will be like (which also boasts a 1:1 ratio recreation of locations from the animé and uses art created by the animation staff). Not much has changed, but the battle system flowed so smoothly in the first game that it didn’t need to. If we were to pick fault it would be that it is a bit easy and if it is anything like the first game, the difficulty requires being jacked up at least two notches just to get the CPU to fight back seriously.

The full game will feature 40 characters with more likely via DLC, multiplayer modes, English and Japanese voice acting, and – for reasons best not questioned – will be released in the UK a week before Japan, with a date pencilled in for 15th October. Check out the demo for yourself when it hits your store or marketplace and in the meantime, enjoy this high definition playthrough of it.

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

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