X360 Friday, October 26, 2007 | 7:55 PM

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja Q&A session

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja Q&A session

We asked on the forum for questions to upcoming interviews done by the XCN, and first out is Naruto: Rise of a Ninja. Most of the questions actually got picked for the interview done by them, so inside you'll find Sebastien Puel's thoughts about characters, DLC, not doing CO-OP, upcoming Naruto games and much more.

Answered By: Sebastien Puel, Game Producer, Ubisoft

Gamersyde: Are there plans to continue the Naruto game series past the timeskip?
This game has been developed by fans for fans who really want everything to be perfect. That’s why we are focusing on finishing and polishing this game first. Then we’ll see if the game meets the fans expectations before thinking on doing a second opus.

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja was one of the most interesting games at E3 2007. Were you surprised by the excellent critical response to the game?
Well, yes. When you work on a project like this during two years, you are so much into it that you don’t sometimes realize the reach of what you are doing. At the same time, we knew we had a graphically unique game and a never-seen-before mix of gameplay. The team is made of fans, so we knew that if the result pleased us, it would please fans as well. But I must say that the strength of the answer we got was a bit surprising.

Will we be able to take control of other characters to explore the game world, or will we have the possibility to only "be" Naruto?
We wanted to tell the Naruto story first. As cool and ‘edgy’ as other characters might be, Naruto has a particularly interesting personality and depth. We wanted to put the player in Naruto’s skin, and tell a real, deep, interesting story. If we asked the player to randomly choose a character this would have simply not be possible.

Which are the features the game has inherited from the cartoon? And which are the new ones?
All features are inherited from the anime. We did not ‘invent’ any. When you make up too many things by your own, I believe you end up having a ‘somehow-close-to-Naruto-game’. That was not our goal.

Then of course, we had to interpret and translate anime elements into gameplay – like the hand seal system. But in the end, everything in the game has to serve the Naruto universe and not the other way around. That’s at least our philosophy.

What's, in your opinion, the most difficult aspect of the cartoon to be implemented in the game?
Definitely, the story. Think about this: when you tell Naruto’s story, you have to make sure that the player feels like Naruto. So in the first hours, we wanted the player to feel more or less like a looser. But from a gameplay perspective, we did not want to force player’s failure. So we had to come up with original solutions … that you will discover in the game!

Can the player choose how to influence the story or does he have to hold on the given path?
Sure, the key elements are there (the journey to the Land of Waves, Chunin exam etc …), but what we have created is an open world. In the end every player will choose a different path thanks to the non-linear mission system and the RPG aspect.

How much does the story of the game keep the storyline of the manga and/or the anime?
This is the same story told with different tool (interactive gameplay instead of anime). But with a few exceptions, we did not remove or alter anything to the anime; we only added some missions for gameplay purposes. If you want to do a good Naruto game, I believe you first have to recognise that Mr Kishimoto is better at telling stories than you are.

How many characters will be playable, in the story mode and in the versus mode, and which?
In the story mode, you will only be able to enjoy the being of Naruto. Because we decided to concentrate on the anime story like, we wanted the player to feel like Naruto and not like a friend or a enemy of him.

Regarding the versus mode, there will be 11 characters playable at the game launch and many more to come via DLC.

Here is the list of all the playable characters of Naruto: Rise of a Ninja at the game launch:

  • Naruto
  • Sasuke
  • Sakura
  • Kakashi
  • Kiba
  • Neji
  • Rock Lee
  • Haku
  • Zabuza
  • Orochimaru
  • Gaara

    There are lots of fights with various characters during the game's story mode, will these be unlockable for play in the versus mode or potentially could be added as downloadable content?
    All the main characters you can interact with during the story mode are playable in versus. Downloadable content will later add even more characters.

    Naruto combines various elements from a number of genres, how would you describe the game to someone who has little knowledge of Naruto the game?
    Well, I think the main thing to understand is that we initially wanted to tell a story, to recreate Naruto’s world as accurately as possible and to put players in the ‘skin’ of Naruto. The different types of gameplay are means to reach this objective. So, we ended up with what one could describe as a mix of fight, action and RPG. Those seem to be 3 quite different genres and mechanics, but in the end, I think it flows perfectly well when you play the game.

    Since you're also implementing a beat em up component in the game, have you looked back at the Japanese games for inspiration for this aspect of the game? If so, which games? After all, many gamers did enjoy the Gekitou Ninja Taisen games on GC...
    It’s not a beat them up like in any other Naruto game. It’s a real fight system. The difference is that fight requires skills and strategy and no predetermined button mashing patterns.
    To tell the truth, we looked at other Naruto games but the fight system has been more inspired by classics of the genre like Soul Calibur or Virtua Fighter.

    Were there ever any plans to let the player co-operatively run around online with (an)other player(s)? If yes, what stopped it? It seems to be the perfect game for it!
    No – there was actually no such plan. I believe that the only way to do a good game is to focus on one single initial intention and develop it as far and deep as you can. Otherwise, you end up trying to do a lot of different things and none of them is really polished and fun. There are a lot of opportunities with the Naruto universe, but we decided to focus on the Naruto story as we thought it was what really defined the series.

    With such a big license (and you being such a big fans of the series), is there anything really ambitious you guys intend to do with future iterations of the series that there just wasn't enough time to do now, or just did not fit into the story this time around?
    I’m proud of this game as it’s one of the rare instances in this industry when the team can look back and say: ‘we have done pretty much everything we said we would do’. But I still believe that there is something more to do on the online side: manga fans (as we are) form a very active community on the web. But there is very little – if none – offer to them in terms of online gaming. Rise of a Ninja will be a first game offering online gaming. If there was further iteration of the franchise, I hope it would go in this direction: Xbox live is an amazing opportunity to develop great manga-gamers communities!

    Which and how many modes will be included in the final game? Will there be any online or cooperative mode?
    There is the story mode, the tournament mode, the offline VS mode and the online mode. I think this is great value for money and the guaranty of a huge replayability.

    Why did you choose for a beat-em-up fighting style rather than something more "open" like in a classical action-adventure game?
    It’s not a beat them up like in one other Naruto game. It’s a real fight system. The difference is that fight requires skills and strategy and no predetermined button mashing patterns.
    To tell the truth, we looked at other Naruto games but the fight system as been more inspired by classics of the genre like Soul Calibur or Virtua Fighter.

    What will be the importance and length of exploration phases in the game (in opposition to fighting/action sequences)? Will the environments be all taken from the manga/anime or did you create new scenarios?
    In the story mode the exploration phases are well balanced with the fighting/action sequences. All environments are taken from the anime. We didn’t want to create a ‘Naruto-resembling world’ but really port the anime into a game.

    Are you fully localizing it (text and speech) into all European languages?
    No, we decided to fully localize the text. But the speech will be for the moment in English and French.

    What is it that makes Anime so great and so ripe for videogame adaptation, in your opinion?
    The first time I saw Naruto I thought it was the perfect world for a great game. First its very action oriented (so we decided to go for the fighting aspect), then it’s extremely beautiful and well detailed (which gives you the thrill of exploration), and last but not least, there are extremely well defined and deep characters (so you want to do an RPG). In the end you’ve got Rise of a Ninja mix: fight, exploration and RPG. Those 3 elements are to me obvious in the anime.

    Thank you Sebastien, and the XCN!

  • All comments

    Page 1 2 >>
    Commented on 2007-10-26 20:25:05
    They should have asked them if a japanese track will be on the disk. I won't play it in english. If it is not gonna have my language track, there's none better than the original one.
    Commented on 2007-10-26 20:30:28
    Game looks just incredible! :)
    Commented on 2007-10-26 20:32:04 In reply to Acidote
    Posted by Acidote
    They should have asked them if a japanese track will be on the disk. I won't play it in english. If it is not gonna have my language track, there's none better than the original one.
    They did kind of.

    Are you fully localizing it (text and speech) into all European languages?
    No, we decided to fully localize the text. But the speech will be for the moment in English and French.
    If there was a Japanese option im sure he would have said.
    Commented on 2007-10-26 20:34:03
    At this point the game is almost finished. so I'm worried for the Japanese voices.

    They never say nothing about Jap voices...
    Commented on 2007-10-26 20:55:37
    the game has been recieving some 'ok' reviews from mags
    Commented on 2007-10-26 20:56:34
    I think they said the voices would be in japanese as well..That was in an older interview though! If they don`t implement jap voices I`m not gonna buy it..
    Commented on 2007-10-26 21:26:22
    I'll just have it running on french if they don't have jap. Might as well brush up on my french.

    Good enough excuse to get a 3rd language under my belt.
    Commented on 2007-10-26 21:40:16
    NOOOOOOO, I like jap voices!
    shadow clone jutsu! it's horrible
    kage bunshin no jutsu! sound great...
    Commented on 2007-10-27 00:08:13
    bleh if there is no japanese voices, then this is a no buy here also :/
    The english voice overs just dont have the same feeling to them.
    Commented on 2007-10-27 01:28:06
    looks like I will have to pick this up :) got myself Naruto faceplate today :D
    Commented on 2007-10-27 01:58:32 In reply to Zeuxis
    Posted by Zeuxis
    looks like I will have to pick this up :) got myself Naruto faceplate today :D
    Oooo mind to share where you got that from ^^"
    Commented on 2007-10-27 02:17:42
    Blim how bout some high res Crysis footage from the demo ;)

    Commented on 2007-10-27 02:23:53
    apparently the OXM review said they would add JPN voices later as DLC. I haven't seen the mag myself, so I don't know if this is really true or not.
    Commented on 2007-10-27 03:35:16
    after reading this im seriously starting to doubt if i should get this
    Commented on 2007-10-27 07:45:42
    Im now worried. They said originally they would have japanese, but if they dont have Japaneses voices in the game Im taking off my preoder and not picking this up. I HATE the english voice actors. Mainly Naruto's VA. An old lady with an annoying catch phrase? No I don't watch the Eng ver because of that, I wont pay to be annoyed too. Need JPN voices confirmed!
    Commented on 2007-10-27 08:24:09
    the game sounds great, but the american voices are terrible. they really are. go watch episode 101 in english, then compare it to the japanese original. there is no comparison.
    i'm really thinking if it's worth getting this now, the bad voice acting will ruin it, it's a story based game and to enjoy it you need good voice acting.
    the japanese voices cannot be added as dlc, it would be a huge download.
    Commented on 2007-10-27 10:07:42
    I hope this game will be a total flop. I hate this naruto stuff so much. Ninjas ??!! Little Kids in silly outifts. Just ridiculous.
    As an example: Basilisk, thats a manga with a good ninja atmosphere.
    Commented on 2007-10-27 11:35:04 In reply to Endijian
    Posted by Endijian
    As an example: Basilisk, thats a manga with a good ninja atmosphere.
    Yeah Right... great alternative, man.

    Get Real!
    Commented on 2007-10-27 11:47:19 In reply to starfox14now
    I said from the very beginning that they wouldn't be able to fit Japanese voices..no one wants to admit the gravity of what this implies..fine with me, i won't disturb the denial.
    Posted by starfox14now
    Yeah Right... great alternative, man.

    Get Real!
    well said..i'm glad you got to him before i did..
    Commented on 2007-10-27 12:09:03
    it's true it won't fit dual audio, but I remeber the first demo video being in japanese audio.
    also I believe they said it would have Jap audio and Now it doesn't

    also The story is great but if theire not gonna make more arcs available on DLC or whatsoever this game pretty much sucks..cause always the main story of the anime lasts 3 hours and the side missions (ramen delivery, defending stuf etc) takes you 20 hours..
    thats not why i'm buying this game for.

    There are lot's of different games I still want, but I save my money for this game...now I'm doubting
    Commented on 2007-10-27 13:17:35
    I want this game soo bad, i admit jap voices are nice, and they did say they would have them but alot of you saying it wont?

    but either way, im still buying this game, its naruto, its a fighting game so its mine ^^"
    Commented on 2007-10-27 16:00:57
    Without japanese voices, I'dont want it!
    Commented on 2007-10-27 18:50:40
    yeah well, he said "for the moment".. so japanese voices arent completely out of question
    Commented on 2007-10-27 23:23:21
    First of all, nice Q&A session.
    As for the game itself, well its easily going to beat the Japanese Naruto games with the GC games being the only half decent one's. Great for 360 that it's exclusive and im looking forward to future sequels.
    As for the audio, for the long time Naruto fan, Japanese voices are very important. It's what they started with and its the definitive version.
    If its down to DVD size limitations then why bother including a French dub instead of the vastly more important Japanese dub? I understand Ubisoft are a French company but alot of long term Naruto fans will base their purchase on the inclusion of the Japanese dub, something that everyone can enjoy due to it being the original version.
    I don't mind the English dub but its far from the stanadrd of the Japanese version of will lessen my enjoyment of the game. None the less I will still buy the game and hope that if the Japanese language is later released as DLC, Ubisoft won't have the cheek to charge for it...
    Commented on 2007-10-27 23:45:58
    umm, dont like fighting. combat should be fast and unpredictable for other player , not doing combinations that all can see and take few sec to do ... etc.
    Page 1 2 >>

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