Naruto Shippuden! A beloved franchise, a popular character and the star of a series of games which are clearly invested in annual shadow clone entries which repeat the exact same gameplay year after year. But along comes Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, which is promising to shake up the series. Is it the revolution that the franchise desperately needs? Oh hell no it isn’t, in case you don’t feel like reading.
Because once again, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution is a carbon copy of previous games in the series. Everything from the combat, the visuals and the audio assets is once again the same. I’m not going to bother repeating myself for the fourth year in a row, so if you want to know how the game handles, here’s a few reviews for three years worth of games.
So let’s focus on what has changed this year, what few new additions there are to the core gameplay. Well for starters, while the gameplay retains the tried and trusted moveset of combos, projectiles, chakra loads and ultimate attacks, characters now also have the ability to specialise in one of three distinct fields.
Awakening fighters can start a match off with a massive power-up, Team specialists can hit the field with more effective combo attacks once they nail the timing and Ultimate Jutsu experts can use their trademark techniques with even more ferocity than usual. Also new to the gameplay, are guard breaks and counterattacks. Guard breaks allow players to slot in items that allows them to overcome the tightest of defenses and leave opponents vulnerable, while counterattacks can save your ass no jutsu from a vicious combo once you’ve run out of substitution counters and preventing any support for the opposition.
They’re good additions overall to a solid combat system, but it’s not nearly enough to sell the game.
One of the bigger draws for hardcore fans this year however, will most likely be the Ninja Escapades. At almost 600 chapters, the Naruto Manga has been around for over a decade now, crafting a tale that spans the ages between countless ninjas and their personal battles. But between some of the more epic battles and revelations, there’s a lot of history that has remained hidden.
Ninja Escapades, fill that history in, and with a neat twist as well. Between the various chapters, there’s almost an hour of brand new footage from the official anime production studio that cranks out weekly Naruto episodes. The downside to this mode however, is that there are so few of them. Between the genesis of the Akatsuki, the hidden history of Shisui Uchiha and a look back into the past of Naruto’s parents, the escapades are scant and offer very little incentive to replay.
And it’s a damn shame. More than anything else, a properly fleshed out Ninja Escapade mode would have been a killer addition. But instead, it comes off as a stray thought which was added in at the last minute for the game.
Then, we’ve got the main event for NS:UNSR. The Ninja World Tournament has you choosing a main character and heading off to see who has the skills to be considered the most powerful shinobi out of all the hidden villages, with battles being either the traditional one on one fights or fatal fourway where health bars are replaced by orb bars. Collect the most orbs by beating the tar out of your opponents within a set time limit, and you’ll win the match. Easy as that.
And after being teased with a third-person mode in previous games, NS:UNSR goes all the way with this idea in the Ninja World Tournament. It’s a great idea, but one that is executed in a clumsy manner with the free-for-all battles becoming chaotic arenas of jutsus flying everywhere and attacks having little to zero strategy whatsoever, something that flies in the face of the spirit of shinobi battles in Naruto. These are fights where moves are planned ten steps in advance, but in NS:UNSR, they’re exercises in button-mashing futility.
The novelty quickly wears off, with the progression system through the five tiers of the tournament offering little interest or value thanks to stilted dialogue and missions which are a chore to accomplish. Once you conquer this mode however, you gain access to Mecha-Naruto mode. A brand new character, Mecha-Naruto is a robot looking for answers, through a more traditional story mode that is filled with even more clichés and boring sequences that will have you skipping through them as quickly as you can.
The thing is, in spite of all this flaws and arguments, the core gameplay of NS:UNSR is as good as it ever was. The 1v1 system isn’t broken and while the new additions aren’t the revolution that fans were promised, are welcome. It’s a system that works well for online play, but the 100+ characters on the roster also means that some ninja are going to be severely over-powered.
I want to like the game, I genuinely do. But I’ve been playing them for over five years now, and the growth has been incremental at best. The visuals are a massive high point as always, boasting superb graphics that shouldn’t be possible on older hardware such as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
But for returning fans, it’s another Naruto game that can easily be skipped. Newcomers on the other hand, might find something worth their while here.
Last Updated: October 2, 2014