Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations

Just as with the Dragon Ball Z titles on the current-generation systems, Naruto Shippuden has had a bumpy ride of late. While every release has been enjoyable, very few of them have achieved the same level of acclaim the GameCube exclusive releases of yesterday took […]
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Electronic Theatre ImageJust as with the Dragon Ball Z titles on the current-generation systems, Naruto Shippuden has had a bumpy ride of late. While every release has been enjoyable, very few of them have achieved the same level of acclaim the GameCube exclusive releases of yesterday took for granted. Unfortunately, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations isn’t the title to change those fortunes, but is remains an engrossing experience in its own right, and to the fans that’s perhaps all that matters.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is billed as a ‘best of’ title, presenting what it suggests to be the fan-favourite storylines in its extensive Story Mode. The videogame covers both editions of the animated series and therefore features both young and old incarnations of the characters, and while focusing on Naruto Uzumaki’s adventures based on the series it does feature new sidestories lead by other supporting characters that expand their backgrounds. The adventure sequences featured in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 have been removed – a design decision certain to please some fans and annoy others – but in their place are a number of brand new cutscenes animated by the studio that is also responsible for the anime. If ever there were a franchise opting for continual experimentation in an effort to appease the fans, Naruto Shippuden’s videogame revisions would be that benchmark.

More than seventy playable characters feature in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations, and while not all of them have their own unique adventure, each is rendered fantastically. The Free Battle mode is where players will be able to exercise with these characters, practicing and competing against friends in local play or in single-system tournaments. Challenge Tournaments see you play in knockout matches against artificial intelligence (AI) enemies of the same rank as you (or any rank you have surpassed) while Battle Tournament is a pre-built structure for eight human players to compete in. There’s also the extensive Survival mode, training and, of course, Online Battles. As with any self-respecting modern beat-‘em-up, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is not exactly left wanting for gameplay modes.

While all these various opportunities to engage in fisticuffs with your favourite animated heroes is all-well-and-good, if the fighting system itself is flawed it would undermine the while experience. Thankfully that’s not the case here in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations, though it would be remiss to suggest that it was perfect. The combat has been streamlined from previous editions, with faster fights now dependant on four different meters. Health is presented in a double layer fashion, akin to Killer Instinct but without the break for rounds, while a status meter determines your ability to dodge an opponent’s attacks. On the aggressive side there’s the now traditional specials meter and the support meters; when playing in Team Battle mode, players will each have two support characters which can be called in with a press of either shoulder button, but only if the slowly recharging meter allows for it.

One of the new additions Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations brings to the game is the Awakening Mode, in which a character transforms into a beast with stronger attacks should they be about to be defeated. Each character commands a different beast, and enabling them all has the same level of compulsion as initiating every fatality in a Mortal Kombat videogame.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a treat visually, bringing the anime to life in three dimensions in an arguably more brutal fashion than it ever has been before. The arenas also look fantastic, with beautifully lit forests at sunset contrasted by grey cityscapes and dank caves, elephant graveyards, picturesque river banks and dry, dusty deserts. Another of the unique features Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations brings is that of being able to use real collectible cards to unlock new content and gain advantages in the fights in a similar fashion to the ill-fated e-Reader’s use of Pokemon Trading Card Game scans in the past. It’s a neat addition that is far from essential, but will certainly persuade many fans to adopt a few card booster packs when they may not have previously entertained such a notion.

In near every respect, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a successful attempt to progress the gameplay of the series on high-definition systems. Some players may lament the removal of the adventuring in the Story Mode, but the swiftness of the combat and accuracy of the depiction of the huge cast of characters is arguably penance for the loss. Maybe the developers at CyberConnect2 would be better sticking to working with videogame adaptations of established franchises opposed to creating their own IP, as it’s clear that Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is a superior adventure to that of the recently released Asura’s Wrath, despite both having a heavy story bent. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations may not be the videogame that brings the series the same kind of acclaim it once had, but for fans of the franchise it’s no less than an essential purchase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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