The Naruto anime series has millions and millions of followers around the world. Tuning in each week to read the latest manga release is almost a formality for most fans, however most fans dream of a game that represents the whole series, from the finest detail in the story arcs to the colour shading of Naurto’s hair.
So far the pressure of pleasing the fans has come down to Namco Bandai and CyberConnect 2. The first title to arrive was next generation game – Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm. Despite it being short of what fans were expecting there were plenty positives to take from the game such as the amazing almost anime like visuals and the core gameplay, which made many were excited to see what was next. Then came the sequel – Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 which gave fans big scale set piece boss battles. Now the Japanese developer is bringing out Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations, which brings faster gameplay, crisper visuals and new features. But is this the best Naruto experience so far?
As you’ve seen in previous trailers before Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations covers both Part 1 and Part 2 of the anime series. So you can start from the humble beginnings of Naruto graduating from Ninja school to him taking on Pein in a battle for the Ninja world. Unlike previous title, (and we’re sure this is a welcome feature) the story mode now features consecutive battles. In previous Naruto titles you explored each village and the paths and roads in-between, this has been removed in favour of progressive story arc where you go from one battle to another then moving on to another story arc. It’s a welcome addition for those who hated the exploration of previous titles. In-between each battle players are greeted with filler story content leading up to each battle which are presented through still images and voice overs. Whereas at the start of each story arc you’re presented with a vibrant coloured anime scene, it begs to wonder why these aren’t shown in-between battles as oppose to still images. Despite this the game does a good job of filling you in and making you aware of why these characters are battling.
While the main chunk of the game is about the scripted events from the series the game explores the backgrounds of certain characters within the game to expand their profile. Players will visit the background story Kakashi’s childhood and much more. Story arcs like previous titles end with a epic boss battle that blurs the boundaries between the game and the series. Environments gets trashed in an instant, characters change form in the blink of an eye, all which gets superseded by the next immense battle. Quick time events still litter set-pieces which still culminate in having to complete them to advance the battle.
Sticking to the formula of titles that preceded it, Naruto still favours the single button combat. One button launches your attack while another charges up your chakra; another button jumps while the other throws projectiles, and while the series doesn’t have the gameplay depth of Street Fighter or Tekken, it more than makes up for in fun. Combos are easy to pull off, while showing off ultimate combos comes at the cost of three button presses, easy peasy. Pulling of combos require you to mix and match the chakra and melee buttons. Hitting the melee button will bring you into a chain of attacks which result in a signature move, whereas mixing your melee with the chakra button will pull off a special move i.e Rasengan when using Naruto.
Staying with the series is awakening mode. When you’re on the cliff of defeat a fully charged chakra bar can turn your Naruto into the Four Tailed beast to smother your enemy into submission. Other characters have the ability to go into awakening mode, examples being Neji activating the Bjakugan and Sasuke summoning the Susanoo, epic stuff. Amongst that the game has over 70 characters to choose from and boasts the most fully packed Naruto line-up in the series yet. With the name of the game being Generations players can battle characters from Part 1 and part 2. Yes, you can face Naruto against Sage Naruto, Part 1 Sasuske against epic looking Part 2 Sauske.
A new and possibly wealthy feature for the die hard fans is that the game can interact with the collectable card game. Cards from the booster pack will contain a code at the top where players enter into the game to unlock exclusive content. These range from artwork and battles to bonus skills to be used online to gain an advantage over others. Online modes consist of your usual 1on1 action where you pick you character and 2 support characters to aid you and a moments doubt. Players can still customise their Ninja card with different titles and emblems and exchange them with other players via PSN or XBL.
For the super critical Naruto fans out there this may be a long way away from the desirable Naruto game, but for the fanatics among them this title does the series justice. Fast and frantic gameplay is accompanied by gorgeous anime cut scenes and stellar boss battles which scream epic.
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations launches March 30 on PS3 and 360. You can Pre-order your copy here (PS3), here (Xbox 360).