After adapting Dragon Ball into a sprawling, open-world JRPG with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, CyberConnect2 should give Naruto the same treatment.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is one of the most ambitious games based on an anime ever developed, adapting the full Dragon Ball Z storyline of Akira Toriyama’s original manga into an open-world RPG, developed by CyberConnect2. It’s the kind of treatment very few anime and manga franchises get, yet few are more deserving of it than Dragon Ball, which has proven itself to be worthy of its legacy as one of the biggest media franchises in the world.
That said, it’s hard not to imagine some of Shonen Jump’s other smash-hit manga series in this style of sprawling action-adventure. CyberConnect2 proved it’s possible to adapt the story of such a long manga into an open-world RPG, while still offering an experience that was distinctly Dragon Ball.
While the developer has already announced its next project, a 3D fighting game title based on Koyoharu Gotouge’s Demon Slayer manga, it’s possible that the team will want to return to the JRPG style of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot following its release. Given that the game’s DLC has already touched upon some of the story of Dragon Ball Super, it might be time for CyberConnect2 to stretch its legs outside of the Dragon Ball franchise and return to the Naruto franchise.
For the uninitiated, CyberConnect2 developed the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm games, a series of 3D fighting games much like its upcoming Demon Slayer project. These adapted pivotal parts of the story of Masashi Kishimoto’s beloved manga, while featuring a broad roster of characters from the series. Given the scope of its world and length of its story, here’s why Naruto is a prime candidate for the Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot treatment.
“The Name of This Village”
One of the most impressive elements of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was its approach to recreating the world of Akira Toriyama’s manga into an open-world, albeit one that was split apart rather than a seamlessly explorable map. Nonetheless, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot‘s open world provided something fans had never seen before in a Dragon Ball Z game, a full realization of the world of the manga and the anime, featuring instantly recognizable locations such as the Kame House and Central City.
One thing that Naruto has in spades over Dragon Ball is an intense emphasis on its world-building. One of the key pillars of the series are the different countries and cultures that make up the world of the manga and anime. A dream Naruto RPG would make the entire world of the manga fully explorable, though this seems unlikely given the budget of a title like this would be off the charts, especially since countries like the Land of Snow have only been seen in non-canon anime films.
However, most Naruto games, such as the Ultimate Ninja Storm games and Ubisoft’s Rise of a Ninja, simply settle at featuring a fully explorable Konohagakure (Hidden Leaf Village) and call it a day. That’s disappointed many fans of the series in the past, who wanted the opportunity to explore the rest of the manga’s world.
A Naruto game that includes the main five countries of Earth, Water, Fire, Water, and Wind, even in a limited form, would fulfill a fantasy that Naruto fans have waited to see for years. Despite Boruto: Naruto Next Generations still continuing serialization, it feels like only a fraction of the world that Kishimoto created has actually been represented in the anime and manga. Games like Xenoblade Chronicles have provided excellent blueprints for how developers should represent large, ambitious worlds in JRPGs.
“True Measure of a Shinobi”
When it was confirmed that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot would be yet another video game adaptation of the Dragon Ball Z story, some fans were disappointed. Most Dragon Ball games since the 1980s have directly adapted the manga instead of offering new, original stories. The same can be said for Naruto games. Despite the first Naruto game, 2003’s Naruto: Konaha Ninpouchou for the WanderSwan Color, many of the video game adaptations of the series have either been direct adaptations of the manga or underwhelming original stories.
With Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, CyberConnect2 learned from its work on the Ultimate Ninja series and offered the best adaptation of Toriyama’s manga, leaving no stone unturned. With its Naruto titles, due to the manga’s serialization, it took the developer almost sixteen years to adapt the entire Naruto story spread throughout 4 main Ultimate Ninja and Ultimate Ninja Storm titles. A Kakarot-style Naruto game would provide CyberConnect2 with the perfect opportunity to adapt the entire Naruto story into a single, sprawling adventure.
This would also give Naruto games a chance to separate themselves from the stigma surrounding 3D fighting game titles, which many fans have grown tired of after the over-saturation during the PlayStation 2 era. This gives the Naruto series a chance to offer a distinct, memorable JRPG adventure that both newcomers and series fanatics can enjoy from start to finish.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
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