Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Reviewed)
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Price: $59.99 – Available Here
It is no stretch of the imagination that a successful media property receive a video game adaptation. Movies receive them all the time, usually resulting in a lackluster and forgettable title that damages the reputation of the original media. However there is a certain type of media which often thrives whenever a video game is made pertaining to it, and that media is anime.
While we’ve seen a few anime video games released in North America over the years, the most prevalent series is the series of Naruto games. Naruto may be extremely popular in Japan but it is just as popular here in the West, meaning Namco Bandai of course has brought over the most recent iteration of the Naruto video game series, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. Should we believe that this is the best Naruto game yet?
Anyone who has paid any attention to the Naruto series since it began over two decade ago know everything that needs to be known about the basic story of Naruto but for those who don’t, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations won’t be leaving you in the dark, because one of the biggest changes made in this game is how the story telling is handled.
Past Ultimate Ninja Storm games featured free roaming systems where players would navigate through various environments in the Naruto world and encounter enemies that they would have to battle against. Rather than including that same free roaming mechanic again, Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations provides a streamlined storyline system full of action.
To be more specific, players will be provided a streamlined story that moves the player from one battle to the next with exposition in-between. While some may view the loss of free roam as a detriment, the implementation of faster battles with story presented in-between in glorious fashion far surpasses anything that could have been found in a free roam mechanic that slowed down the entire process. Unfortunately this also means that the large boss battles that were found in past games have been entirely removed, which is disappointing as some of these battles were amazing experiences.
Now it is worth noting that Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations also revamps the story mode by providing a number of side plots that can be played that happen during the official Naruto storyline. This means that while you can play the original storyline of Naruto and see how everything began and follow the official storyline of the Naruto Shippuden series, these stories follow other Hidden Leaf ninjas and main characters from the game and actually are being considered canon into the Naruto storyline.
This means that even those who have religiously watched and read every ounce of Naruto’s storyline since its release can still find some new content here as they see never before seen storylines unfold in front of them. In the end there is something new here for everyone as they playthrough a streamlined story mode that does what no other Naruto game has done in the past, actually make you feel like you are fighting inside of an anime episode.
The reason for that is simple. In-between story mode battles players will be provided amazingly drawn anime stills pulled from the anime itself and presented in high quality. To make things even more exciting however, there is a very large number of brand new anime footage that is not only presented in HD but is also handled by the exact same team that handles the Naruto Shippudden anime. This means that the story may often present some anime storytelling and then drop you straight into your fight, making it feel like you’re actually in the anime itself at times.
The fighting itself and the character designs are absolutely wonderful to behold as every single character looks the same exact way they do from the anime. Players are presented with numerous stages to battle on with a plethora of bright colors keeping with the anime’s aesthetic.
For a series like Naruto that has not only a devoted following who enjoys listening to the English dubs but also a vast amount of people who stay up to date with the Japanese episodes via Crunchyroll. As such there are those who enjoy both the English voice actors and those who would rather listen to the Japanese voices.
Thankfully, Namco Bandai has included both of these voice tracks and to make things even better the official voice actors from the anime reprise their roles. As an added bonus, all of the same theme songs and battle music used in the anime transitions flawlessly to the game as well.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is one of the few fighting games out there that has a decent amount of complexity to its battle system with a whole slew of mechanics but one of the nicest features about Generations’ combat is the fact that everything feels simple to pull off without a whole lot of difficulty. This opens the accessibility of the title to practically any fan of Naruto, even those who aren’t able to enter large complicated strings of inputs to perform specific actions.
With the removal of free roam, Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a core fighting game that pits the player against one enemy to battle against, though each fighter can have two support characters as well. Players are given your standard attack inputs such as pressing B to begin a combo attack, blocking, ranged attacks as well as a button to charge up your chakra meter. If players choose to overcharge their chakra meter they can enter a mode known as “awakened” mode which will make some basic characters stronger, but for certain characters such as Naruto he will enter his tailed beast chakra form, increasing his power and offering new attacks. One of the newly adjusted features is the way “substitutions” work.
Substitution jutsus can still be pulled off with a press of the button easily however players are given a limit of how many they are able to use, with the meter filling up slowly as you take damage. This doesn’t mean however that there won’t be plenty of countering back and forth as you and your opponent use multiple substitutions to avoid being combo locked.
As one can imagine, every character has their own special chakra based attacks such as Naruto’s Rasengan and so on. These moves require your chakra meter to be filled up a certain amount to be used with a near fully charged meter allowing players to use a special Ultimate attack. However this Ultimate attack can easily be abused as there is no limit on how many times it can be used in one battle. This means of course that players could potentially face up to three Ultimate attacks in one battle. As such, there are plenty of times that battles are far from balanced and there are a number of characters with exploitable moves that feel cheap and overly powerful.
However you have to give CyberConnect2 credit… while past Naruto titles have had a whole lot of characters to work with already, Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations offers a jaw dropping roster of over 70 fighters that can be used when they are all unlocked. These fighters include nearly every ninja from the Naruto storyline, though it is worth noting that there are more than a few versions of some characters. Though it may be a bit obvious, Naruto and Sasuke for example take up nearly 10 roster spots on their own.
Besides the story mode there are a number of other fighting modes available for consumption as well for single player fans. There is a tournament mode, an endless battle mode that is similar to survival mode and of course the chance to face off against a buddy locally. Besides these options there is also the online mode that allows players to take their skills online. However while playing online I experienced a decent amount of lag in numerous battles and here is where the unbalanced fighting mechanics truly shine as many exploits are well known already and used often by the online community.
Those who’ve paid attention throughout the review should easily be able to guess the words that are about to come next. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations will likely be viewed as the best Naruto game that has been released so far. By providing streamlined ninja action with a revamped story structure and easy to understand but fun combat there are only a few things holding it back from being great.