Naruto transforms into inevitable co-op game for PSP

There's a reason why every PSP game seemingly has four player co-op play nowadays: Monster Hunter. Capcom struck a gold mine by bringing the franchise to Sony's handheld, and Japanese developers have tried -- over and over again -- to replicate that success. Phantasy Star Portable, God Eater and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker are just a few of the titles that have attempted to follow the formula.

Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive is Namco Bandai's anime ninja flavored variation, and it's coming to the US in Spring 2011, nearly a year since its original July release in Japan. Unlike the Storm series, Kizuna Drive is developed by Premium Agency.

In addition to featuring an "all new story" with "game-exclusive characters," Kizuna Drive will have one more bonus Naruto fans will probably appreciate: a theme song, sung by Naruto's voice actor, Junko Takeuchi. See the press release after the break.%Gallery-111544%
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NAMCO BANDAI GAMES AMERICA ANNOUNCES NARUTO™ SHIPPUDEN™: KIZUNA DRIVE FOR THE PSP® SYSTEM

Dynamic Multiplayer Battles Coupled with an Original Story Delivers the Most Exciting Portable NARUTO Game Yet

SANTA CLARA, Calif., (Dec. 15, 2010) – Leading video games publisher and developer NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc., today announced NARUTO™ SHIPPUDEN™: Kizuna Drive for the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. Featuring the most authentic team-based combat in the franchise, the game treats players to a roster of fan favorite characters, an original storyline, and a new multiplayer combat system. Based on the popular animated NARUTO SHIPPUDEN series, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Kizuna Drive is set to deliver an exciting and dynamic fighting experience when it is released this spring 2011. The truest test of a ninja's strength will not lie in how they fight, but with whom. Are you up for the challenge?

Following an all-new story, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Kizuna Drive pits Naruto and friends against an unseen foe responsible for the disappearance of ninja from Hidden Leaf Village. New game-exclusive characters will descend onto the scene and unexpected plot twists are revealed as players discover who seeks vengeance upon Naruto.

In NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Kizuna Drive, two modes of play will be available to challenge everyone's ninja prowess. In Story Mode, journey with a band of NPCs (non-playable characters) through more than a dozen missions that await to be conquered. In Free Mission Mode, build a ninja dream team to overcome daunting combat situations where up to four friends can fight together and perform special combo moves via ad hoc. Featuring a new Kizuna Drive Combat System, players can chain devastating attacks onto enemies as each teammate inflicts crippling damage one after another. Time attacks precisely to apply even more intense blows, but miss the mark and the damage will be reciprocated.

Staying faithful to the franchise, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Kizuna Drive embraces the ninja universe while adding new dimensions to it. Not only will players participate in spectacular boss battles, they'll be treated to an exclusive opening movie created by Studio Pierrot and music sung by Japanese Naruto voice actor, Junko Takeuchi. As if four-player co-op and a totally original storyline weren't enough, the game features bonus content where fans can access tons of side quests to keep the action rolling. Furthermore by collecting scrolls and special items, they can power up their characters or give them special abilities.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.