The world of Naruto and his fellow ninjas is an expansive one, with over 800 episodes and chapters between the manga and anime. With its unique cast of characters and out of this world moves, the series has translated very well to video games. Enter developer CyberConnect2’s latest effort, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. While the game does carry over a lot of what has made the series great, especially the Ninja Storm part of the series, there are some big changes in store this time around.
The story of Naruto is that of growth, friendship, and war. Unlike past iterations of the Ninja Storm series, Generations takes out a single point of view for the story and instead goes the route of multiple short stories. There are over a half-dozen of these isolated stories that allow you to see the story of Naruto from multiple different points of view. All of these stories do in some way relate to Naruto and his friend/rival Sasuke as they clash at several points in their respective journeys. What the game loses here though is the adventure aspect of the previous games, as there is no world to explore or interact with.
Thankfully, Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is one of those fighters that not only boasts an impressive combat system but also a great story. In the game, the story is told through animated cut-scenes and story-board dialogue, with up to 65 minutes of unique content not found in the anime. Each story mentioned above has its own animated story, along with the story-board parts to bridge the gap to each fight. Generations does a great job of summarizing some of the major points and characters of a massive story in a way that is inviting for people new to Naruto along with those revisiting it.
Generations is a fighting game that looks complicated at first glance but is actually a lot easier to pick up than you think. In the game, two combatants duel in a good size arena where the entire space is open game to jump around like any good ninja would do, throwing daggers or pull off up-close combat moves. All combat in the game is done with the face buttons and there are really no complex combos to be found in the game. Players can build up Chakra during the battle or pick it up from fallen enemies, then use it to pull off special moves. The game boats an impressive roster of over 72 characters, so there are plenty of very unique and super fun special moves to pull off.
Added to the fighting this year is the addition of a substitution meter, limiting players times that they can substitute themselves out and escape a strike. The meter caps off at 4 and, once depleted, will take a little bit of time to refill. Also added is an awakening mode, that can be activated towards the end of the battle to try and give players a last-ditch effort to swing the tide. The changes, especially with the substitution meter, might not be for everyone as it will force players to really pay attention to that meter. Once it depletes, you will want to step back and put some distance between yourself and your enemy, which is where the depth of this fighter really takes shape.
What you have with Generations is a fighter that focuses a lot on learning the art of positional strategy over complex combinations to pull off certain moves. Fighting in the game moves at an extremely brisk pace and forces players to read and react the situation quickly. Knowing when to throw down a trap or pull back and play defensive is a must and being able to react to changes, such as a player rushing quickly to meet you as you back up. It is through all of this that the game provides you will a very deep and rewarding battle system that will hook you in from the first battle.
The depth and fun to the gameplay doesn’t stop with the story mode as the game boasts a very deep and rewarding online component. Ranked and custom matches are here, but so are four and eight player tournaments, endless assaults and Ninja Info Card Battles. On the card battles, players may assign themselves a card before matches, and their card will then face-off against their opponents before the real fight. The winner of this card battle will then be granted the bonus specified on the card before their battle. Yes, it’s a gimmick but it’s a good one that adds some pop into each online battle.
Throughout the multitude of story and online modes to be found in the game, you will find all sorts of unlockables to keep you busy. For those who have played past games in the series, most of these will ring a very distinctive bell. Along with having to work to unlock all 72 playable characters, players can use in-game currency that you win after matches to buy ninja tools, character images, movies, titles, and more. There is nothing major here to unlock, such as characters or levels, but for those completionists out there, you will find plenty to save up and buy. Plus, it is always fun to unlock new titles for you online character, such as The Sound Village’s Novelist, though that’s my title so don’t even go there.
Although the levels in the game are beautiful and allow you to move around them freely, they are actually fairly bland in the end. You never really interact with the environment and it would be nice to see some levels with a bit more depth, maybe some different layers to it. Also, many of the grand, epic battles of the earlier games and anime are somewhat absent in the game. Even the bigger battles that do occur don’t feel as epic as they have in past. It might have also been nice to see real team battles in the game instead of limiting your partners to strictly assist moves.
Developer CyberConnect2 should be commended for do such great justice to the world of Naruto yet again. The subtraction of exploration for a more fighter feel might annoy some, but it does not detract one bit from the story and the gameplay. A tight and energetic fighter becomes so much more through the beautiful cutscenes and fantastic story. Fans of the series will no doubt be picking this up, even if they are completely up-to-date with all things Naruto. However, newcomers to the series shouldn’t hesitate due to their lack of knowledge towards the franchise. Generations will bring you up to speed in a way that won’t make you feel in over your head with the immense world of Naruto. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a fighter that does a bit of double dipping, giving players a satisfying fighter with a moving story of youth and the changes that they can bring.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+So much story recapped to perfection
+/-Lack of story exploration but more online options