Naruto Storm 4 Famitsu Interview Part 2
This is the second part of the Famitsu interview. For context, if you haven’t read the first interview please go check out the first article here.
— Those were different before, right?
Matsuyama: Indeed, but now they are identical, pretty much. Finally there’s this sense of realism, the sense of being in the battlefield, and to move properly as if it were an anime in motion…this is what the “Ultimate Ninja Storm” series was envisioned for, and I think this is the very first time it will be possible to do.
— I see. And this seamless sense was also applied to the story since this time, unlike previous works, the loading times are reduced dramatically.
Nishikawa: That’s right. However, no matter how good loading times are, if those preceding the story take too long, they could end dampening interest before the battle begins.
Matsuyama: And not only with loading times, we were conscious of the flow in the production. Previously, bonus conditions were presented after the end of a scene, normally in a fully-colored screen. That’s how it was then. However, why not try to present them simultaneously? So now in this work, just when the white comes in for a flashback scene, it shows the bonus conditions as it fades away, and it disappears once the battle starts, just like that. We were aware this direction would come with difficulties.
— So although it will look natural to players, it was no easy task to accomplish.
Matsuyama: That’s because those responsible for each part work separately. There are people in charge of the movie part, people making the UI for the bonus conditions, people in charge of the Battle In game, people working on the battle itself, people making the battle results…everyone is on their own. But when you put everything together, all the parts are seen with clarity. This time, with the hardware at hand and since I knew we were working on the flow of the loading screens, I considered entirely possible to have a strong connection there. Because of how strict this was carried out, however, it left a sour taste in my mouth.
— People is often dazzled by the flashy action direction, this strength is also included in the production of the story, right?
Matsuyama: We had created two different types of filter for memories. Since I haven’t decided on names yet, let’s call them the “Recollection System” and the “Evoking System” (laughs). This is because flashback scenes in the past were done using a sepia tone. With the current trends in anime, I see that it’s not as easy as simply using sepia and saying “Yes, from now on this is a flashback!”, like back in the old days of animation. Take films for example: they use a blurring that gives the impression the movie is projected on a screen, the display is all covered in wrinkles and it has this slow blinking. The rendition in “4” has been tailored to adapt effects used in the latest trends.
— How is this used within the game?
Matsuyama: The evoking system is used when thinking about people that’s still alive…for example, there is a scene where Naruto thinks of Gaara, but Gaara is alive and this scene is not about Gaara in the past. Something like “Now, wonder how’s Gaara doing in the Sand Village” is where we use the evoking system. This is represented with a little white mist, which gives just the right feeling for a reflection. We decided on the rules for its proper usage and shared them between all the staff.
— I’d like to ask you a basic question once again, how much of the original story will be covered?
Nakagawa: Right now, I can say it includes “up to the most recent climax in the anime”. Continuing from “3”, it’s made in a way so you can dive in directly.
Matsuyama: Of course, those who haven’t played the previous works don’t have to worry, as there’s also a good way to follow the story up to that point.
— When it comes to the climax, the number of characters is probably going to be huge, right?
Matsuyama: I can’t talk about specifics yet, but right now I can say that we have “the highest record of playable characters with well over 100 total”.
— About game modes, can I assume they are the same as in previous works?
Nakagawa: Basically, there’s Story Mode where you can relieve the story of the original, Free Battle, and there will be an extra mode that can be played for a long time. There’s also Network Battle like in the past, but better than in previous works, we’ve included elements to assure a solid play. I’ll be happy to talk more about this mode when the time comes.
— An extra besides Story Mode, I’m interested in talking more about this newly established mode. Was it planned from the beginning?
Matsuyama: From the start. I mean, in all the story modes in the “Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm” series, one advances the story by walking around the world. But this time, because the story itself from the original “Naruto” develops directly in the battlefield, this wouldn’t require as much movement. Of course, as this is a game it can also be shaped so it forces progression, making it follow a single path. And because the story needs to slowly build up to a climax, it works best to have a single, correct progression while playing, keeping a nice tempo as well as allowing us to concentrate on the story. In short, this time for the main story mode I decided to make it follow a single, correct progression of events during play, without any alternative scenario. And instead, I decided to make another main mode where one can play to their heart’s content for a long time, with a higher degree of freedom.
— There’s also a narrative necessity, which is why the mode gets such huge enhancements (laughs). Plus for Story Mode, amazing boss battle variations have been arranged as well.
Matsuyama: At first I was thinking on creating content equal to those of “2” and “3”, but in the end the additions by large surpassed “2” and “3”, resulting in some very luxurious content (laughs).
— About the standard battle system, equipment destruction is a new element unique of the PS4, right?
Nishikawa: Yes. This time, ever since the initial development stages, we were aware that representing dirt and damage in the characters was essential in order to invoke that sense of fierce fighting present in the original story. From there, we introduced a system that shows a degree of wear and tear in clothing when receiving damage. But beyond being a simply change in appearance, I wanted it to have an actual meaning for the game, for the “equipment destruction” to be a persuasive system.
— It certainly looks flashy, but will it also have a big impact on battle strategies?
Nishikawa: Correct. When costumes are damaged in battle, the defense will decrease. However, that alone would mean the receiving side is at a disadvantage and that’s not a good competitive tool; therefore we have specified that, while defense decreases, the fighting spirit born from a determination to not give up will in turn increase attack strength. As a result, you can either fight back using the strength advantage or instead switch through the Leader Change to a character whose equipment is intact in order to continue fighting. And this is not the only tactic born from the new strategies unique of this work.
— In relation to the promotional videos and hands-on experiences until now, what has user reactions been like?
Nakagawa: During test playings, specially from customers who experienced it for the first time, impressions are such that I’ve heard them say “Naruto’s game is so awesome!”. For the trailers, it’s been “It’s really great and has that PS4 quality!”. “A game like no other until now” is the general feedback I’ve received from guests.
Matsuyama: In fact, at every event, I get great praise even from colleagues of the game industry like “I’ve checked the “Ultimate Ninja Storm 4″ you are making, and is so much better than most other titles!”. The CG reproduction is just wonderful, the direction is wonderful, as well as the large number of resources, it’s said that’s something incredible for a single game, and that those who are part of the same industry know it very well.
Nakagawa: Until now, the “Ultimate Ninja Storm” series has rose in numbers in its attempt to create something of a great character game, and that’s of course what we are doing this time. But more than that, I think we also want a title capable of standing up against core games. There are customers who don’t know “Naruto” at all, customers that have never experienced this series until now; but with the game system and the speedrun elements, I think it has what it needs to become a game everyone will be interested in.
— There’s also a big repercussion overseas, and there’s a lot of demand for it around the world, does this increases the development team’s motivation?
Nishikawa: Yes, it does. After completing something that’s really good, one only wants to release it. But now we stand in a difficult and crucial moment; it’s the final battle, where we apply all our resolution and pride as creators.
Matsuyama: Talking specifically from my position, I have been prepared since the start, and I’m also confident, but still it’s been a really long period of time, and to be honest I’m feeling a bit too tired (bitter smile). But enough of that, it’s finally about to be completed either way.
— So it feels like you’ve just ran a marathon, then…?
Matsuyama: Yeah, because it is. If there’s something I’d like to say to these article’s readers, is “please, show the development staff your gratitude” (laughs). This is a really troublesome position, since PS4 development is still huge, and nothing is half-baked. And then, in many ways, I think customers’ opinions can fuel this further. Because those are simply reactions, whether they are good or bad opinions, which are also fine. Because some parts of the material may inspire opinions such as “this is not right!” or even “this sucks!”, we can quickly shift from joy to sorrow and back. In spite of that, however, I’d still like to hear everyone’s opinion anyway.
— I understand. But it will be alright, Nishikawa-san, has made a great work! To end this report, do you all have a message to our readers?
Nishikawa: You can say “4” has really multiplied the prestige of the development team, it truly lies in our souls and body, it’s also a title where we have exhaustively poured all of our force. Because of that, whether you are playing it in groups or alone, I’d like to hear all your impressions.
Nakagawa: Indeed, “3” is also a very appreciated title, but when compared with “4” it is practically different in everything. And because I think this is something that can’t be seen unless you play it first, we’ll provide a playable trial version, the information of which will be published soon. Please look forward for it.
Matsuyama: Although it carries the number “4”, we regard it as being entirely new, and parting from that, I’m confident that “Naruto” has become a work everyone can enjoy. Talking about this even further, in the “Ultimate Ninja Storm” series, the “game creator as director” also includes the direction of the story. Because of this, in producing drama with the unique characteristics of a game, while seeking to impress a lot of people with a number of different scenes taken from the original work, I’m proud to say we’ve managed it while keeping a quality that will not betray anyone’s expectations. Moreover, everyone who made this one loves the world of “Naruto”, having read the manga, saw the anime, and even when others are playing the game I feel like I’m moved to tears again. I’m perfectly honest, each time I check on it I feel myself trembling with excitement (laughs). So, by all means try in out in the PS4, and we in CC2 and Bandai-Namco Entertainment, aim for this work “Ultimate Ninja Storm 4” for 3 million clearly. But please, write to me using bold letters (laughs).