In a few days, your TV screen is about to bleed. Bleed the prettiest of colours as a gang of adolescents toy with enough power to reshape worlds and determine the course of human history in Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. For many of you, it’s the culmination of more than a decade of gaming as the great Ninja World War finally comes to an end.
For the rest of you, it’s a head-scratching moment of “HUH?” as you find yourself lost in a world where a teenager is able to maintain stealth-mode while powered up to look like an Oros-sponsored rave event. But don’t worry folks! The D is here to get you up to speed with the franchise, the games and the mechanics behind it. Or die trying no jutsu.
What’s a Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4?
Naruto is huge in Japan, and just as popular in the West if you’ve ever been to a convention and wondered why so many people in orange jumpsuits have striped faces. Set in a world where the dominant superpowers happen to be those countries with active ninja villages, Naruto stars a young outcast who is looking to find his place in a village that happens to despise him and the gigantic nine-tailed fox that was sealed inside of him during the day of his birth.
We’ll get to that soon, hang on.
Yup! Forget about guns, tanks or any other modern military engine of destruction. A single well-trained shinobi is powerful enough to wipe out an entire squad within seconds, thanks to various ninja arts techniques and hereditary bloodline limits that imbue them with fantastic abilities. A regular ninja is capable of moving undetected, disguising his presence and easily escaping any enemy force with techniques that substitute his presence for something like a log.
Better ninjas can harness their natural elemental skills (water, fire, earth, air) to call forth massive fireballs, water dragons, earthquakes and more. Some ninjas can increase their mass, others can mentally torture you with devious illusions, others can create gigantic monsters and a lot, lot more. There’s an entire Yellow Pages worth of skills and abilities, and that’s not even touching on summoning giant beasts, magical weaponry or genetically-inherited eyes that have the potential to rip open entire dimensions in space and time.
What about these tailed monsters?
Right, this is where things get even crazier. The short version is that there happen to be nine tailed beasts that roam the lands, each one having a numeric amount of tails attached to them. There’s the one-tailed sand demon tanuki Shukaku, the two-tailed cat Matatabi and so on. Naruto happens to have the most powerful of the beasts, Kurama, sealed inside of him as the ninja villages have regularly created human weapons out of the Bijuu beasts by doing so.
Which also has the side effect of not having to worry about a gigantic chakra demon razing your village to the ground.
Who’s in it?
Besides Naruto, the series also focuses on his comrades Sakura and Sasuke, his teacher Kakashi and lots more people with names that sound really ridiculous when you say them out loud.
So it’s prime material for video games then?
Oh man, and then some. The Naruto games are pretty much responsible for the wild rise of cel-shaded anime games, alongside the Dragon Ball Z series. The franchise took off in 2003, with Clash of the Ninja on the GameCube, Ninja Council on the GameBoy Advance and a ton more in the years to come. Heck, even Ubisoft made a pair of games that weren’t bad actually.
The best-sellers however have been the Ultimate Ninja games that set the benchmark for the series. Within that franchise, the Ultimate Ninja Storm games have been the biggest hits, with six games in total preceding the upcoming seventh and final entry in the series.
How’s it play?
Good question! The Ultimate Ninja Storm games are of the fighting genre at heart, but on a more three-dimensional battlefield. You’ve got an entire arena to manoeuvre your way through, where spacial awareness and timing is more important than seeing who can blow the biggest fireball attack, much like the source material.
That requires understanding of your speed, range and when to counterattack as you’ll need to play with the mindset of being two moves ahead of your opponent at any given time. Ninja art techniques are your biggest damage-dealers, but hand to hand combat, projectiles and tag-team attacks also factor heavily into a fight.
It looks rather pretty
That it does hombre. Developer CyberConnect2 have been in charge of the majority of the Ultimate Ninja entries, levelling up not only the look of their animation but the execution of it as well, resulting in some jaw-dropping visuals and QTE scenes that don’t feel like hastily-tacked on afterthoughts. And Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 feels like the prettiest of them all, as it happens to be making its first appearance on current-gen platforms.
How many ninjas are there to play with?
Lots. Lots and lots of ninjas, although few are equal. The Ultimate Ninja Storm series makes no excuses for having heavily overpowered characters in the roster, which sometimes does feel like a case of quantity over quality. Once you’ve felt the power of activating a tailed-beast mode in your human host and run riot with them, playing as a more standard shinobi feels a bit underwhelming.
When is it out?
February 5 on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Originally scheduled for a 2015 release, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 dropped to 2016 for “reasons”.
So what’s changed?
The core mechanics for this iteration have been touched up, tweaked and retuned. There’s more traditional story content, a tighter focus on tag-team battles with the Leader system and more cinders than the eye can handle with the improved visuals.
It’s time for a new developer to take over the Naruto game franchise
A new trailer and screenshots for Naruto UNS4 appears no jutsu
The Uchiha are unleashed in this new gameplay footage for Naruto UNS4
Your PC needs to be this shinobi to run Naruto UNS4
Naruto UNS4 is getting lots of DLC
Adventure mode returns in Naruto UNS4
Behold the power of the Uchiha in Naruto UNS4
Hey look, new Naruto UNS4 screenshots!
Naruto UNS4 has a massive roster of playable shinobi
Naruto UNS4 is a direct continuation of Storm 3
Naruto: UNS 4 collector’s edition revealed
Six Paths Madara Uchiha joins Naruto UNS4
Obito Uchiha joins the war in Naruto UNS4
Your feedback has helped shape Naruto UNS4
Team Minato reunties in Naruto UNS 4
Naruto UNS 4 boss fights look ridiculously pretty
It all ends in these new details for Naruto UNS4
Last Updated: January 19, 2016