From one of the all time greatest Anime series, the Naruto games were born. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is the latest in CyberConnect2’s accomplished series that depicts not only the grand fighting sequences, but the honourable and emotional theme of the series. What surprises me is that it shouldn’t only appeal to Naruto fans, but fans of fighting games to. It certainly made a fan out of me
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
For fans of: Anime, the series, fighting games
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.5/10
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is the title CyberConnect2 intend to revolutionize online play. It also offers over 70 characters’ stories which is more than any title in the series before. Series stalwarts, Naruto and Sasuke return and fans will be glad to hear Zabuza and Haku were included amongst many more. The most complete Naruto title yet.
What I liked
- Tight, crisp, intuitive controls
- Spectacular combos
- Adapting AI
- Loads of singleplayer characters to play
- Replay value
Not so much
- No tutorial!
Gameplay and Features
CyberConnect2 integrate the rich narration of Naruto’s Anime with spectacular fighting in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations in a complete package. Not only are there loads of character’s stories to play through, but an extensive online component.
In the singleplayer or story mode you follow a few of the foremost characters’ stories. Anime comic-book style and cinematic story-telling takes you from fight to fight as you follow the character’s path in some of the series’ most memorable battles. You can choose to start with a young Naruto, the older version or Sasuke; and once you finish their stories you unlock more characters to play with. There is over 70 characters which feature in one way or another – either as a main character, or a support character and lastly in the multiplayer modes. There are loads of gems, items or Ninja cards to be won by gaining XP, which can be viewed in your accumulated collection. Your fighter evolves as you win your way through battles – their fighting moves progress as does the fighters’ magic. Whatever you don’t win you can buy with the ‘Ryos’ you win. The more the better as you can purchase certain items which you can equip to your magic arsenal.
Players can also pick quick fights outside the story mode, with the array of fighters you unlock. You pick your main character and a supporting one which is activated with a button – like a tag team almost. Lastly the offline aspect offers player versus player mode on the single console. The same formula is used here as in playing against the AI – you choose you main character and a supporting one. Overall the singleplayer experience is the most complete I have seen in a brawler, and this is usually where the pack falls short.
Then there’s the online component which CyberConnect2 are riding high-hopes on. Fortunately it works well thanks to good online code and user-friendly matchmaking. I had no problems finding opponents thanks to the popularity of the series and so could compete in versus fights, endless battles (which is as it sounds) and even tournaments. I suspect the popularity online will continue as this is the latest and greatest in a fanatical series. Again, the same formula is applied here which thanks to the plethora of fighters and the various style, makes for unique and entertaining fight after fight.
It doesn’t matter how interesting the fighting game is or how pretty, if the fighting mechanics fall short, the game is a total flop. Fortunately this is the very aspect that instantly won me over. The control design is nothing short of brilliant – the basic layout is just that, while the more technical aspects open up the combat allowing you to build on enthralling combos.
My biggest (and only) gripe was the exclusion of a tutorial. Don’t be fooled by the early button-mashing as I was which may get you the early victories and some great-looking combos along the way. As the fights got tougher, the button-mashing no longer won the battle and so I needed to go into the menus and learn the combos and layout. You will need to use your arsenal of moves and magic; you will need to block effectively and use the LT which shoots you from facing the opponent to behind him. Different opponents also require different strategies to beat. If the heat is getting too much (like it was for me) you are asked if you want to drop the difficulty. A nice touch is that the AI difficulty is adaptive, so if you are still not winning it drops automatically in your next try.
The combat is heavily influenced and surround the player’s use of ‘Chakra’, a type of ‘power-up’ or ‘focus’ ability. You can use it in small doses to add to your combo or move, or hold in the power-up (Y button) to inflict more powerful blows, magic and combos. Each fighter uses their powers differently as they have different magic and combat. The entire fighting system focuses around this ability which depletes when you use it or are beaten down. You will need to charge it up by successfully landing blows.
The fights take place in big arenas, and when I say the characters movement is 3-dimensional, I don’t mean like Tekken is. Your character doesn’t just side step or move in a circular circumference, you can move, run and jump around the entire arena. This adds a nice angle on your fighting techniques – the ninja’s throw ninja-stars and other magical items, so if you are not succeeding in the close-combat, you can pan out and throw the various items at the opponent. This does not take off as much health off your opponent, but helps you take a breather at least and plan out your next attack whilst recharging your Chakra levels.
In the end the fighting design is all about the combos and big moves to deplete your opponent of bigger quantities of health. And it is here that the design and the control-mechanics shine. With little effort you can string together the most spectacular combos, but are rewarded by learning the more technical methods. The trick is that your opponent can block many attacks (some of the bigger magic is not blockable, so you need to dodge them). You also need to rely on your defence and retaliate. Then just when you are used to that opponent, you face a new one which often calls for a completely different style to be beaten. Sure there are methods that overlap, but the combination of all that I just described made this one of the most exceptional and satisfying fighting experiences for me.
Sound and visuals
The visuals perfectly represent the Anime theme – the fight scenes could be mistaken for an episode from the series and the story-telling in-between the fights is presented in slide-show style. There are no visual imperfections to report and so Storm Generations is an exquisitely reproduced and artistic title. This helps emotionally draw you in to the Anime experience and makes for a memorable gaming experience. There is over an hour of animated cinematic sequences on offer in the story mode to satisfy the fans.
The Japanese voice-overs further add to the authentic Anime theme and are typical to the genre in an emotion-filled package. The action-packed fighting sequences are represented with crisp sound-effects that again true to the theme. So the overall package as an audio visual experience is a truly authentic one that will please fans and probably charm those who were not yet the biggest fans. There is that certain look and sound that is common with the theme – how the drama is even portrayed in the facial expressions or the characters’ body language.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations left me with an emotional attachment to the series and its wonderful characters. I liked anime before and I like fighting games, but I absolutely love this one. The combination of the beautifully told stories with CyberConnect2’s stunning fight-mechanics design made for one of my all time favourite fighting titles. The design stays so true to the Anime theme and is a complimentary tribute to the series with the story telling and the fight scenes, which play out like they would in the cinematic series – simply brilliant!
Read about our ratings here.