Unless you're among the admittedly large group of fans devoted to Naruto, odds are you've happily ignored the dozens of games released so far based on this wacky martial arts-themed anime series. But Ubisoft is now working on a Naruto game for the Xbox 360, that it hopes won't be overlooked by anyone, even those who have never seen an episode of the TV series or picked up a copy of the manga.The company's famed Montreal studio is deep into production on Naruto: Rise of a Ninja, the first anime-licensed action game that's made us actually sit up and take notice in...well, ever, really. From the looks of things, this one is designed as much for fans of all great video games as it is for all those unflagging Naruto diehards. The team in Montreal is putting a big priority on re-creating--and in some cases, improving on--the characteristic look of the TV show. To that end, the game will use a refined cel-shading effect, inventive camera moves, intelligent use of motion blur and shadowing, as well as a number of other visual tricks. The net result of all these whiz-bang graphical and stylistic touches is a game that looks surprisingly similar to the source medium on which it's based.But let's not get ahead of ourselves; the game isn't due out until October of this year.Throughout the course of the game--and as the subtitle implies--you'll guide Naruto through his training to overcome his demonic stigma. You'll also go from shunned outsider to respected, full-fledged ninja.
In gameplay terms, you'll do this by roaming the village of Konoha, accepting various side missions from townsfolk to build up your chakra level, which will both raise public opinion of Naruto and allow you to train with the town's masters to increase your ninja skills. You can hit a button to reveal little faces that are either smiling or frowning over all nearby town residents to find out how each one feels about you. Many of the town resident who like you will also present you with optional quests. The one we saw involved the young student Konohamaru who snuck off and hid somewhere, so Naruto had to scour the town to eventually find him attempting to blend in with a particular wall.