A trip to the Hot Topic at the Glendale Galleria or any of the other Los Angeles area malls will confirm that the Naruto Anime series isn’t nearly as popular as it was just a couple of years ago. Exclusivity however, is just how the real fans like it. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is made for those fans with plenty of content and even more with codes found on the Naruto Shippuden trading card game. Luckily, there is also a lot to love about this fighting adventure for the more casual fans of Naruto.
Ninja Storm Generations features over 20 locations, many notable to battle the 70 playable characters and 15 support only characters. Many of the characters are repeated as younger and older versions of themselves, because the Generations title refers to the game’s bridging of volumes of the anime series. Though animated subtly differently from the series, the game does a good job of catching up less die-hard fans on the anime.
Things are a little changed-up since the last Ninja Storm on PlayStation 3. Instead of being able to run around Hidden Leaf village, players now have a well designed menu. The main menu offers a story mode, free battle, online battle, shop and collection. The free battle mode even allows for a readymade tournament for those that prefer local matchmaking over online. The online does work well but I did have some occasional trouble finding matches.
Ninja Storm Generations works a little differently than many other fighting games and some changes have been made to previous Ninja Storm titles. In addition to a health gauge, players also have a “Chakra Gauge” which is required for “Jutsu” or special moves and the powerful last-ditch transformation, “Awakening.” The Chakra can be built up throughout the battle or stolen from your opponent after a sufficient beat down.
The basic controls are similar to other fighting games with some differences in addition to the ability to use items in battle. The R2 button will allow you to guard and the L2 counters. The shoulder buttons call your teammates for a special move. There is no actual substitution. Circle will strike (either hit or kick) and Square is your shuriken or missile attack. X is the jump button and Triangle is used to build or collect Chakra. These buttons are contextual and combos using them make sense.
Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations obviously won’t let you customize the look of the licensed characters but is tactically customizable. The entered codes and purchases from the shop can be used in matches. It will take players awhile to figure out how everything works and even longer to really master everything. Luckily, the difficulty is adjustable and does scale appropriately through the Story mode.
The story is the meat of the game, even if a few months from now, it’s only the online options that you play the game for. Initially the stories of young and older Naruto and the Tale of Sasuke are all that are available. After playing through these stories, they are wrapped up with about a five or ten minute anime epilogue, awards and in some cases additional adventures to play in the mode. The game isn’t entirely faithful to the original anime scenes so even some longtime fans maybe interested in how they play out.
CyberConnect 2 has streamlined the Ninja Storm experience by removing the other types of gameplay and made a straight 3D fighter. There is no blood, gore or dismemberment in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations and that may turn off some fighting game fans but as a complete package, the game does well what you’d expect. The story is well told and besides a few camera issues, the fighting is accessible without being too shallow. Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is easily one of the best fighting games released so far this year.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence, Mild Language. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.