SDCC 2015: Preview: Bandai Namco’s Upcoming Games

Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-in-Chief

San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) 2015 is now in full swing as Thursday’s events kicked off bright and early as the show floor opened at 9:30 AM. Emertainment got a chance to sit down at SDCC with the folks from Bandai Namco to preview several of their upcoming titles, including Dragon Ball Z Extreme Budoken, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, Sword Art Online: The Last Song, Dark Souls III, and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

Photo Courtesy of Bandai Namco
Photo Courtesy of Bandai Namco

This new game was at the top of our list to check out at SDCC from Bandai, so we’ll jump straight into that. Following the success of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, this game builds off the best parts of the franchise. The demo we saw was dynamic and had that unique flair in the combat that makes the game stand out.The demo might have been set on easy, since the computer played character fell fairly easily, but let’s boost our egos and say it’s because we’re master gamers. One of cool features we saw during gameplay was a shared Awakening, where your support computer-controlled teammates would enter into their Awakened states when you did. For fans not familiar with this gameplay mechanic, there are two way playable characters become powerful towards the end of the fight: using an ultimate jutsu or entering into their Awakened state.

Characters like Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, Kakashi, Madara, and Obito come back in full force with the combat and now that the game’s on the next generation consoles–we played it on the PS4–the graphics look as amazing as ever. They’re fluid and extremely well done. The Ultimate Ninja Storm series can get repetitive as a whole with its combat mechanics when you do the same moves over and over again, but at least during the demo Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 looks like it’ll never become tiring to see Naruto throw a Rasengan. The demo only featured combat, so this reviewer can’t speak to what the story will play like. That being said, since the combat is so integral to the franchise, we can say with confidence that the actual gameplay will remain one that’s enjoyable, easy to pick up, and worth playing again and again.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 will be released later in Autumn.

Dark Souls III

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Photo Courtesy of Bandai Namco

This critically acclaimed series returns with Dark Souls III and we got a chance to sit down and watch a hands-off run through of the E3 Demo at SDCC. Although no new footage was shown, we can take you through what we got the opportunity to see as the demo progressed.

Although we only saw the Alpha Build–an early stage of development–the game looked incredibly beautiful. “Miyazaki is a creative guy and wanted everything to be beautiful,” said Mike Change, the Global Brand Manager on Dark Souls III. “He describes it as a ‘withered beauty’ and you’ll see that throughout the game.” That aesthetic is definitely present with the crumbling builds and ominous golden-colored sky. No doubt, once that game is finished being built, that graphics will be that much better, but for the moment it was more than enough to impress us.

The demo took us through what appeared to be a decrepit battlement to a cathedral. We saw the Undead, Dragons, and the boss of the demo: the Dancer of the Frigid Valley, a large and lithe creature that moved almost like a dancer, wielding massive swords. Although we didn’t get to physically drive the game, we did get to see the combat and it was extremely well done, capitalizing on a faster and more fluid combat than the previous games. “Some people might say the games are difficult,” Chang said,” but they’re not. You just have to figure out the nuances of the game and, once you do, it’s very, very rewarding.” One of the things that really wowed us was how the gameplay mechanics interfaced with the environment. During the boss battle with the Dancer of the Frigid Valley, US Producer Brandon Williams pointed out how her flaming weapon would ignite the area around the room throughout the fight.

Dark Souls III comes out in early 2016 and it’s a great jumping on point for anyone–including this reviewer–who hasn’t played the previous two games.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 3

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Photo Courtesy of Bandai Namco.

From the gameplay we saw in the demo of One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, this is going to be a game that anyone into gaming remotely interested in One Piece should consider picking up. The story of the game will take players from the beginning of the series up until the present, which we noted was fairly ambitious during the demo. The actual gameplay we got our hands on involved the Straw Hat crew fighting Hody, Captain of the New Fishman crew, to free Jinbe.

We got to play as Shanks because, let’s face it, he’s one of the coolest characters of the entire franchise. The gameplay mechanics are fairly similar to that of Dynasty Warriors, but it had enough of a unique Once Piece flair that it remained enjoyable throughout. The game suffers from the same pitfall that the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm series does in that the gameplay can become repetitive, doing the same moves over and over. We’re willing to say that it  was most likely due from our inexperience with the game and falling back on tactics that proved to work.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 will be released in North America on August 25th.

We did get a chance to also play Sword Art Online: The Last Song and Dragon Ball Z Extreme Budoken during the demos here at SDCC. The Sword Art Online game was beautifully rendered with amazing landscapes you just want to fly off through. And yes, you can in fact fly. We weren’t familiar with the game prior to playing the demo and we didn’t get a chance to finish, but from what we saw of it, it’s going to be the art that makes this game worth it. As for Dragon Ball Z Extreme Budoken, we only got to play the versus demo, so it’s–again–hard to say how the game is as a whole, but the combat just wasn’t up to snuff compared to what you’d find on the Dragon Ball Z console games.

Be sure to check out more SDCC 2015 coverage from Emertainment Monthly!

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