Gameplay Journal #2 — Game Engines

For this weeks journal, I decided to play one of my favorite games, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (NUNS4). The whole Ultimate Ninja Storm series was created by video game developer CyberConnect2 and Japan-based video game industry company CRI Middleware Co, a.k.a CRIWARE. CRIWARE powers some notable games, including Street Fighter V and Destiny (CRIWARE). CyberConnect2 is well known for the .hack series and the many games they have produced based off the Naruto series. Naruto is a Japanese manga series on ninjas that has been adapted into anime, movies, games, etc.

As far as the game engine used to create this game, I feel as if it does a good job in representing the ‘anime’ look in a 3D environment. Naruto is all about ninjas, special abilities, and fighting, and the game gives a great avenue for players to immerse themselves into the world. There is more than just a fighting game following the plot of the series, there are open world elements that allow you to explore different areas of the world as well. The fighting allows you to move and perform actions including special powerful moves that were showcased in the manga and anime. The open world allows you to explore different areas in the Naruto universe, interact with different story characters and extras, and find collectables that allow you to purchase in-game extras. Music, sound effects, and dialog are often exactly or pretty close to what you hear in the anime.

The game physics allow you to act and move like a ninja in the Naruto universe; capable of jumping through trees, running at a constant pace non-stop for extended periods, walking on water, being able to survive bone-cracking blows, stabs, etc. The arenas you can fight in may look different stylistically, but offer the same flat, circular space in each area. Sometimes you are aable to walk on walls if in an enclosed arena. Characters have different strengths in different abilities, but all are equipped with the same basic attacks; throwables, melee, upgraded attack, special upgraded attack, etc. Only the character design, costumes, and or the actual visual style/VFX of the attacks differs. Characters have that distince anime look, with an outline around their body. I haven’t seen many mods for the games besides altering how many attacks you can land in a given succession and what attacks you can use.

Three dimensional rendering for a game was once looked at as “promising technology” for future games (Deger). Now most of our games and even films are created entirely from 3D models and environments. What I think is really successful and compelling is that unlike other fighting games such as Mortal Kombat where you can only move up,down, left, or right, you have a whole arena to move around in. If you are crafty and quick enough, you can evade almost all incoming enemy attacks, much like how players could move around to avoid damage in DOOM (LeBreton). I feel that when the games started coming out for manga, even before the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, people that were not familiar with manga or saw it’s appeal was beginning to understand just how interesting and compelling some of these stories and worlds actually are. Just how DOOM’s game engine got ‘normal people’ to understand what gamers were excited about (Deger), I believe CyberConnect2 got people (me included) to understand the hype behind anime and manga, just what this medium is capable of, and why people enjoy it so much.

Below is a gameplay video I created for this assignment playing and comparing Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 to the first game.

Gameplay video on Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

WARE, CRI. “HOME.” CRIWARE, 2021, www.criware.com/en/.

LeBreton, Jean-Paul. “Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom | Vector Poem.” Vector Poem, WordPress, 28 Feb. 2010, 10:22PM, vectorpoem.com/news/?p=74.

“Game Engine.” Debugging Game History: a Critical Lexicon, by A. C. Deger et al., The MIT Press, 2016, pp. 203–210.