Time Warp Review looks back at Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm!! Believe it!!

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm crosses the boundary between anime and video game. Naruto is shown using his Rasengan.

Time Warp Review

The road to ninja has come to an end. After seven years, Namco Bandai has brought one of the Best Anime Adapted game series to a close. Through five titles spanning current-gen and next-gen systems, we have assumed the role of Naruto and followed him on his journey to be the Greatest Ninja ever. For those who are new to this, I’m Devildrive1313 and let’s take a look back at how this journey began with a Time Warp Review of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm.

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm crosses the boundary between anime and video game. Naruto is shown using his Rasengan.
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm crosses the boundary between anime and video game. Naruto is shown using his Rasengan.

Since his debut in 1999, Naruto has become one of the most popular characters in anime and manga. After making the transition from manga to anime, he and the rest of the Hidden Leaf ninja made the transition to the gaming field in Naruto Ultimate Ninja for the Playstation 2. The is the first game in the series, technically speaking, but I will get to the main idea. Naruto Ultimate Ninja retells the events that led up to the Invasion of Konoha arc with Orochimaru and the Sound Ninja attacking the Hidden Leaf. The game featured only 12 characters; however, Namco Bandai offered Cursed Mark Sasuke and Nine-Tail Naruto as bonus characters for the North America and European releases of the title. There are special techniques and jutsus that can be used along with special abilities unique to specified characters. Kunai knives and shuriken are also available as well as other familiar items. Naruto Ultimate Ninja features a support character system that allowed players to summon another ninja to assist them. However, this was a fixed feature and players could not select their support character. This changed with Ultimate Ninja 2, allowing every one of the game’s now 32-character roster to be used as support. Elements from the first title flowed in this and the sequels that followed. The option to use support characters in Ultimate Ninja 3 was not made available and the same went for Ultimate Ninja 4. Both of these sequels brought RPG elements to gameplay such as being able to equip Jutsu (which was featured in the second game) and Ultimate Jutsu. Unlike before, the use of Ultimate Jutsu is restricted to a single use per battle instead of three times. Support characters return in Ultimate Ninja 5 but the game did not get a North America release.

The depicted key moments from the anime, such as the fated duel between Naruto and Sasuke.
The depicted key moments from the anime, such as the fated duel between Naruto and Sasuke.

Now on to the main event! Naruto made the jump from Playstation 2 to the Playstation 3 with the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. Released in 2008, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm broke the boundary between anime and video game with its impressive cel-shaded graphics. Hiroshi Matsuyama, one of the creators of the game, commented that the staff wanted to try to remove the borderline between the anime and actual gameplay. They wanted to reach an effect where people actually look at the scenes as anime rather than a game. The core concept of the game is that of a one on one battle. And they have achieved this feat thanks to the higher resolution of the PS3. As a result, animation is much smoother than in the previous PS2 games. Many features from the Naruto Ultimate Ninja series are present in Ultimate Ninja Storm except players fight on a three-dimensional environment as opposed to the two-dimensional planes of previous games. One of the new features introduced to the series in Ultimate Ninja Storm is “Awakening Mode”, a transformation that can be activated when a player loses a certain amount of health during a match. Once activated, their strength and abilities are boosted and, in some cases, they will acquire new, more powerful jutsu. Players are also able to customize their character’s jutsu and select two support characters to use in a match. Another feature that made Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm an excellent game is the epic boss battles. Whether it’s against Gamabunta or Gaara fused with Shikaku, these battles are amazing. They look as if they were taken straight from the anime. The game also retold the events leading up to Naruto and Sasuke’s fated battle and boasted a 25-character roster. Players are able to explore the Hidden Leaf Village between missions, which acts as a central hub for the story mode, and access more missions.

Naruto takes on Gamabunta in one of Ultimate Ninja Storm's epic boss battles.
Naruto takes on Gamabunta in one of Ultimate Ninja Storm’s epic boss battles.

Three sequels followed with each title progressing through the Naruto storyline into Naruto becoming the Seventh Hokage. With each release, the character roster grew to over 100 available characters spanning the manga, anime and movie adaptions of Naruto with Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja 4 featuring the children of Naruto and Hinata Hyuga, Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno, and Choji Akamichi and Karui of the Hidden Cloud Village. To date, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm has sold over two million copies. More than 15 million Naruto games have been sold worldwide. Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is Namco Bandai’s second Best Selling title behind Tekken 6. Critical reception to the games has been positive. IGN praised it for its “phenomenal visuals” and noted that the single-button combat might turn away hardcore gamers, but found the fast-paced action and chakra management system to be redeeming factors. Ultimate Ninja Storm was also the only video game to win the Excellent Prize in the Entertainment Division of the 13th annual Japan Media Arts Festival.

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm All cutscenes and boss battles!!

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