When it comes to a unique type of third-person fighter, one must think of Naruto. It is like a cross between Dragon Ball and Pokémon. But instead of searching for magic balls or trying to “catch them all”, it’s a story of personal fulfillment and lifelong sacrifices. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is the third installation of the Ninja Storm series and has stayed true to its TV-show counterpart. This makes the game more gripping and easily translated when up against the conflicts you so often see Naruto and fellow heroes facing.
But what if you don’t watch the show or haven’t played other Naruto titles? Well, then it feels like you’re stranded on an island with Gilbert Gottfried and all he wants to do is talk about tax exemptions. Okay, it may not be that bad, but the Naruto franchise is one that you must understand to enjoy. First-time comers will quickly learn this isn’t like any fighting game they’ve played before. Knowing high kick and low punch combos won’t merit any victories here. Though the game has very basic and simple controls, you must know the best time to use certain moves. There is a training mode, but not much of a tutorial on how to use the characters.
The custom style of the fighting system is based on timing. Most characters have the same moveset with only subtle changes. Using the substitution method is probably the biggest wild card when in combat. Substitution is the ability to teleport behind your opponent at any given moment and disrupt the flow of their attacks. In past Ninja Storm titles, you could use this method as many times as you wanted; now in a welcome change, Generations has a meter and only allows this up to four times. This meter refills after waiting for a period of time.
You can take your skills into a range of different game modes. Free battles allows you to select from four options that will keep you busy: VS battle, survival, tournament, and training. You can also take your talents online or just play story mode. With all of the excitement I was having playing through the story, I just didn’t have the heart to beat it all because I wanted it to last forever. *rolls eyes and clears throat* But if I did beat everything, I would have been well on my way to earning the 70+ unlockable characters available.
Along with characters, stages can be unlocked as well. The nifty part about it is that fighters can move in three dimensional directions on all levels. It can be a bit of a nuisance, though, chasing after an opponent who’s trying to regain substitution across an entire 3D stage. On the upsie, in-game action looks neat and some of the over-the-top animations are great to watch. But mostly everything is a bit too simple and plain. Combat can extend across major open arenas, but that’s all they are: open arenas. Not many layers or textures support the background. And fighting can be reduced to two-button battles.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations adds substance to the game through its online capabilities and Ninja card battles. This ninja card feature is a pre-match battle that allows two people a chance at winning cards that will boosts attributes in the actual battle. If attribute boosts aren’t making you jump for joy, maybe the actual card that comes with the game box will!
With plenty of new content mixed in with plenty of old staples of the series, Ninja Storm Generations is sure to please fans of Naruto. For average users and those just a little curious, this might not be the fighting game for them. Artistically it is very enjoyable, based on another animé series with a lot of plot and storyline that could have anyone watching or playing for years. But its gameplay is rather hit or miss.