Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is CyberConnect2’s newest entry in the Naruto game franchise. For those who have no knowledge of Naruto, it’s a famous anime from Japan, which has since become popular here as well. The series is based around ninjas and their clans, all with a fairly fantasy tone due to Jutsu, a physics breaking ability that ninja utilise.
Generations is far from the first Naruto game, and doesn’t really have one set story. Its story is more of a catalogue of events allowing players to get a broad grasp of what has happened in the series. There are 10 different stories following the heroes as well as the villains of Naruto’s plot, most of these stories at set during the Shippuden section of the series, where many of the character have grown up. The story is told to the player through occasional clips from the anime emphasizing the most important plot points; however in between fights slideshows of the anime are shown instead to vaguely explain the story. For the most part this style works, but many sections seem slightly confusing as the game tries to explain massive story arcs of a series with hundreds of episodes. Admittedly the slideshows come across a bit lacklustre due to the lack of animation and such, but they still manage to fulfil their purpose well enough.
The gameplay of Naruto is unlike anything you can get anywhere else, and feels like a near perfect display of the fights in the anime. The gameplay is loosely based around 1v1 fighting games. Given an over the shoulder camera, two support characters, and a selection of items the players are tasked with killing each other. Players are able to punch, ranged attacks, jumping, blocking, decoys, and charging. Charging plays the game changing role in this game, allowing you to modify what your attacks do through the games energy gauge called Charka. Charka turns a simple dash into a super speed charge towards your foe; it furthermore allows use of signature moves one of the more impressive displays in the game. The final use of Charka is awakening, a mode when fully charge turns you into a destructive form, with most characters having great changes to their core gameplay.
Naruto’s combat is clearly why CyberConnect2 has managed to make so many of these games, and sets the game apart from any other fighting game. The combat is certainly not without its issues, with many character feeling the same (not aided by their being multiples of the same character from different sections of the series). Many of the fights can feel irritating as many characters don’t have a massive variation on their moves, or the opposing character exploits your characters abilities, while this would be an enjoyable element for the pros of the game, the more casual side suffers greatly from it. The game does however offer plenty of depth with its card based power up system and your choice of items and allies, who you can call for one off abilities, leaving pros with massive room for choice and changing of their combat styles.
The art style used is near one to one with anime, created with an almost watercolour vibrant pallet of colours, with rich motion blur emphasizing the swift movements of the characters. This really adds to the game giving a graphical edge that will age well. The graphical style can sometimes get in the way of combat, however mostly due to the camera getting blocked by giant fireballs or gigantic summoned doors. Fans may be pleased to hear that both the Japanese voices (with subtitles of course) are available to be played with if the dubbing doesn’t take your fancy.
The game works for both casual and for hard core players but doesn’t feel like it balances as well for the casual players, leading to some frustrating fights. There is a valley of depth and variation that the game has to offer, however a few to many characters are slightly too similar. The actual main single player of the game does feel a little light as well, with all fights being made more difficult by restrictions or giving your opponent more damage, making many fights feeling more unfair then difficult.
Great graphics with an astounding art style really sets Naruto apart and feels like a love letter to the fans of the series, not to forget the choice of voices as an extra is also a nice addition. The games slideshow scenes are where the game suffers, not giving a great enough explanation to make events make sense, or the growth of the characters.
The main story has around 10 different plot sections following different characters and groups through the series, each lasting from 30 mins to an hour or longer, leading to the game being finished fairly quickly as players go from fight to fight with no variation.
Online gameplay is also fairly light, with tournament modes and online play with the choice of player matches or ranked.
Players will need to milk much of the game to unlock the vast quantities of collectables on offer in the game, mostly in the form of cards, and different decoys that your use.
Naruto is a great love letter to fans of the series; however it’s doubtful that any non fans of the series will stay with this long term. The core gameplay and presentation of the game are great but the game falls flat massively in the single player and online modes, offering little compared to other fighting games.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.