Chances are if you speak to someone around my age, they’ll have…opinions on Naruto. With the manga and anime done, and continuing in spinoff and crossover forms, what better time than now to get into it for the first time?
I’m not even kidding when I say this. Naruto was something I never got into when it was popular, somehow passing me by. I don’t know if it not being on free to air TV helped (which was how I got into Dragonball & One Piece) or just not really caring about anime at the time, but it completely passed me by. Everything I know about the series and where it goes through has been picked up via osmosis, and it’s been enough that I made a decision to actually see what the hell this story is all about.
Which is why I decided to take the punt on buying the four Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm games as a means to check it out and see what I missed. Aside from wanting to check out more of developer CyberConnect2’s catalogue, it was something that’s been recommended by a bunch of friends who’ve gone through the entire story.
And yet playing the first game is questioning my quest to discover more about this.
Not that it’s necessarily a bad game. I’m keeping my expectations for a 10 year old game pretty reasonable, but it’s not a particularly welcoming adaptation for newer fans. The game expects you to have actually read or seen the source material to understand or really appreciate what CC2 are attempting to do.
Character introductions and motivations or story details are either explained in a sentence or not mentioned at all, and it’s incredibly frustrating. It’s giving you the gist, which is handy if you’re knowledgeable about the story, so you don’t have to slog through any parts that are endlessly recreated. If you’re like me though? It’s almost enough to completely stop playing.
It’s the opposite problem to virtually every Dragonball game, which will go out of its way to retell the exact same story in every single adaptation. There’s only so many times you can fight Raditz and see Goku die before you yearn for something, nay, anything else.
Yet despite all this, I’m enjoying my time enough with the game. It’s an arena fighter the way every anime/manga tends to be nowadays, and it works well enough. But the real winner here is the world – the setting of the Hidden Leaf Village, where most of the action takes place, is kinda really appealing to me.
Most of the story mode in that first game is running around doing tasks, and while it’s a small environment, the look is striking enough. It being set in a (mostly) contemporary city is kind of appealing to me, and it’s striking enough. It’s also still so great when CC2 go all out with cutscenes, you can tell there’s people there who love the source material enough to put their passion into it.
There is one other thing that Ultimate Ninja Storm got me to do. After being so frustrated with only being given the gist of the story and not being the replacement for the source material that I was expecting it to be, I decided to start reading the manga. I’ve only just started, but I’m enjoying my time with it enough that I want to see it through, same with the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. I’m very interested to see how the games adapt the source material, where the story goes from here, and how both can work in concert to make the story worth going through.
Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter.
When he’s not running like an idiot, Jamie can be reached at @jamiemgalea on Twitter and most other social platforms.