The ultimate beginning
Naruto Uzimaki. From 1999 to 2017, Shonen Jump Magazine’s hyperactive ninja knucklehead had a major impact on the geek culture scene as well as anime and manga. From graphic novels, to other novelty merchandise and video games, many anime fans worldwide followed his rise from outcast of his ninja village to its legendary savior. During Naruto’s rise, there were many video games for various systems that followed every adventure of our blonde, blue-eyed hero and his friends. I got the opportunity to play one of the Naruto-based games after a recent game shopping expedition when I found Naruto: Ultimate Ninja: Storm.
Ultimate Ninja: Storm is a hybrid consisting of fighting and role playing game elements. Free Battle mode allows you to choose one main fighter with two backup characters against another player or the console’s choice of characters in various stages taken right out of the Naruto universe. Free Battle also allows you to earn extra cash if you defeat their opponents using various moves known as ninjutsu. The extra coinage will be needed in the role playing mode, Ultimate Mission Mode, during which you control Naruto in various missions that involve episodes 1 to 135 of the anime series.
I found everything from the cinematic intro to actual gameplay excellent. Namco Bandai brought their experience in making games like Tekken and Soul Calibur and combined it with Masashi Kishimoto’s guidance in developing the perfect example of a video game based on a popular anime franchise. Every stage, landmark and character are portrayed perfectly in the game making me as if I was transported to the Hidden Leaf Village. The controls are easy and will help you pull off some up-close cool combos when certain buttons are displayed. They’re also great during the exploration of Ultimate Mission Mode as you’re trying to find hidden items and mission locations.
Another cool thing about the game was that the music from the anime series was not only kept intact, but also was done in Dolby Digital Sound. The voice acting in the game is high caliber thanks to Namco Bandai working with Viz Media and Studiopolis Inc. to bring together the original English voice actors to reprise their respective roles. Even with the excellent English voice acting, you can also play the game in Japanese with English subtitles for a more authentic feel. Anyone who has not played a Naruto video game will find it perfect for either a hot or rainy-day afternoon, or a friendly fighting game tournament at any anime convention.
Namco Bandai did an awesome job of bringing Naruto to the PS3 in addition to publishing additional games based off this iconic franchise. For now, Naruto’s journey to be hokage has ended successfully, with a son ready to take up his own challenges. Ultimate Ninja: Storm is a great start showcasing Naruto’s early adventures.