Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections Review – New Era of Shinobi Combat
I’ve long been an admirer of the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series. Each installment traditionally offered a novel take on Naruto’s world, ranging from RPG elements to open-world exploration in the Hidden Leaf Village. Since these games paralleled the concurrent anime, they included new story events mirroring the series, which was always thrilling for fans like me. However, Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections doesn’t seem to mark a significant advancement in the series. While it brings an extensive character roster, it largely recycles familiar mechanics without substantial innovation.
This latest title retains the essence of its predecessors. Its combat system is both straightforward and easy for newcomers to grasp. As a fully 3D arena brawler, it allows two players to engage in combat, supported by the option to summon two additional characters. Players can seamlessly switch to these characters during combos, creating dynamic fight possibilities. The combat is further revitalized by an item system that provides passive offensive or defensive benefits during battles.
The main issue, however, is the familiarity of the combat system. Despite gradual modifications over the years, it fundamentally remains unchanged from the past five or six games. While still enjoyable, the experience feels repetitive, especially when considering the cost of this new release. The game encompasses characters from the entire span of the Naruto, Naruto Shippuden, and Boruto story arcs. Each character reflects their power level from specific story stages, leading to multiple variations of characters like Naruto and Sasuke.
The roster of over 100 playable characters in Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm is certainly impressive, though this count does include the aforementioned duplicate characters. For those who may have found previous iterations of the game challenging (which was not generally the case), the new installment introduces a simplified control system. This feature makes executing complex moves and transitions easier. I stuck to the classic/original controls, which were adequate for me, but newcomers struggling with the basics might find this option helpful.
Upon starting the game, players are greeted with a comprehensive tutorial. It covers the fundamentals of the combat system, including Ninja Moves, Special Finishes, Awakening, and Linked Moves. While these concepts might initially sound complicated, they are quite straightforward. Ninja moves don’t require special button combinations, and executing combos is essentially a matter of button mashing in sync with other moves. I was able to maintain combos as long as I had enough chakra for a chakra dash mid-combo.
Regarding the story aspect of this new entry in the series, Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm offers two different single-player story modes. The first is a History mode that revisits events and battles from the entire Naruto series, excluding Boruto. It serves as a refresher, breaking down major events and battles from Naruto to Shippuden, ideal for those new to the anime or the game series. This mode features a mix of playable battles and non-interactive story cutscenes. A unique, albeit somewhat gimmicky, addition is the option to rate events with emojis, which are then compiled into a worldwide real-time ranking.
History mode includes all the iconic Naruto battles, including boss fights that often lead to cinematic quick-time events (QTEs). These QTEs, while simple in concept, are always exciting to experience. Each chapter typically includes a few of these dynamic battles. Players are also encouraged to meet bonus conditions during battles to unlock new collectibles like outfits, artwork, and music tracks. This adds a nice layer of replayability, encouraging players to aim for higher rankings in the built-in ranking system.
In Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, the other prominent story mode features an original plot centered around Boruto. This narrative resembles a filler episode from the anime, primarily serving to guide players through various battles with different characters. While enjoyable, it’s somewhat disappointing due to its limited interactivity. The story progresses without offering any choices during cutscenes, and gameplay is mostly about progressing through consecutive battles. A more interactive setting, like a playable Ninja Village, especially to leverage the capabilities of new-generation consoles, would have been a welcome addition, but it’s absent in this game.
A significant enhancement in this installment is the online multiplayer experience. The improved net code and smooth gameplay in online matches are noteworthy improvements over previous titles, where I often struggled with online play. This new game offers a more reliable and enjoyable online experience. Both casual and ranked matches are available, but players should be aware that the game’s balance is somewhat skewed. Overpowered characters are accessible from the start, making it easy to dominate matches by choosing them.
Beyond the story modes, Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections also includes a free play mode for offline multiplayer battles with friends. For those aiming to collect all in-game items, the game provides ample enjoyment in both the History and the original Story modes. The online multiplayer also adds significant value, offering a seamless matchmaking experience.
Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections Game Information
- Price: $59.99
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Developer: CyberConnect2
- Platform: PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher