Naruto is a Japanese manga that most people were introduced to in the early ‘00s when it became a very popular anime series. My first introduction to the series was when the anime was aired on Cartoon Network via Sky TV.
Sadly, as I grew older, I somewhat stopped watching the anime. For whatever reason, I only watched the first season of the anime and never familiarised myself with the franchise after that.
While I may have departed from the anime, the franchise continued with more episodes and even more video games. The Naruto character also grew up as he now has a son named Boruto. If you have never played or watched Naruto before, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is a good introduction to the series for beginners.
Before you begin playing Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, the game features a very helpful tutorial mode for those people like me who have rarely played Naruto video games before. The game also allows you to choose between Simple or Normal control methods. Normal is preferred if you have played the series before.
Gameplay-wise, I enjoyed the controls and fighting mechanics in this new Naruto game. Even though I’m a huge Dragon Ball fan, playing the recent DB games can be too chaotic because the AI can fly around long distances and block all the time.
In Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, characters cannot fly, but they can evade and move really fast to avoid attacks. One of my favourite game techniques is Substitution Jutsu, where you can escape an enemy attack or combo by pressing the L2 button on PlayStation consoles.
If you feel the AI or other players are being too aggressive, you are also free to block or guard their attacks. However, if you guard for too long, they can break through your defense. This in turn will force you to try and attack back instead of guarding too much like a coward.
This game isn’t all about defense because it also allows you to make tons of awesome attacks of your own. Many combos can be initiated by spamming the Circle button on PS devices, but several special Ninja moves can also used.
This Naruto game has something called a Chakra Gauge, and this determines how many special Ninja techniques you can use. It’s essentially like the Super Meter in Street Fighter games, and these techniques can deal a lot of damage to your opponents. If you need more Chakra, you can pause midway through the battle to replenish the gauge.
Another cool thing about combat is that this game has something similar to the Kameo fighters in Mortal Kombat 1. There are two support characters you can have during most battles, and you can simply call for their help by pressing L1 or R1. You can also change your leader if you feel like playing a different character in your team.
Using the support of your teammates is a lot of fun, and it makes the fights fast and unpredictable. I also love the number of playable characters that this game offers because each character feels and plays differently from one another. That being said, the game still features a ton of duplicate characters depending on the age they were in the manga/anime.
Next, let’s talk about some of the game modes in this game. For those who want a history lesson with the series, newbies can play the new game mode called History mode. This is a game mode where you can learn more about the story of both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden. There are eight chapters in total, and you can actually start on whatever chapter you prefer.
Each chapter includes several fights as well as main episodes and sub-episodes. Many of the enemies have large life bars, so you will have to be prepared for tough and long battles if you are playing through this game mode. There are even battles where you have to go up against enemies much larger than the average human being!
Sadly, the worst part about the History mode is that this portion of the game doesn’t feature animated cutscenes. All of the story elements are told via lengthy slideshow images taken straight from the anime series. It does feel a bit cheap, although many fans would have played through these story elements in previous Naruto games.
It feels as if History mode takes a backseat to the main event game mode called Special Story. The Special Story mode is an all-new story that revolves around Naruto’s son, Boruto. The cool thing about this story is that it’s original, so it’s not a narrative based on any existing Naruto material.
While History mode has cheap slideshow images, the Special Story mode thankfully has proper in-game animated cutscenes. Boruto meets a new girl he likes named Nanashi via a new game he’s playing called Ninja Heroes. What he doesn’t know is that Ninja Heroes is a game developed by the bad guys who want to see the Ninja World get destroyed.
On paper, this story may not sound very original, but I actually became really invested in the characters of both Boruto and Nanashi. This is because Nanashi is being used as a weapon by the bad guys, and Boruto wants to try and help her find peace in her life. Without spoiling anything, I will say the ending made me teary-eyed. It’s one of the most emotional video game stories I have ever experienced.
The last two game modes in Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections are Free Battle and Online Battle. These game modes are where you can play it like a traditional fighting game. You are free to choose any character you wish, and offline multiplayer is also supported. There’s not much else I can say about these modes, but it’s fun if you have any friends or family members to compete against.
Graphically, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections features bright and colourful 2D-style graphics. The levels aren’t large like in a Dragon Ball game, but many environments from the anime show up. I don’t think the 2D character models are as detailed as Dragon Ball FighterZ, but the graphics look decent on newer consoles, thanks to it being 60fps.
If you have played Naruto games before, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections doesn’t offer much new content. The gameplay is essentially the same, and the History mode features storylines you may have played through before. The only major new thing to enjoy is Boruto’s special story mode.
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is still a fun game for someone like me who hasn’t played many Naruto games in the past. Not to mention, I really loved the Special Story mode. That being said, hardcore Naruto fans may want to get this game on sale instead since not enough new content is offered here.