‘Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution’ PC review: anime fan service

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The Legend of Naruto Uzumaki continues with Cyber Connect 2’s Nacruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, the latest installment of the Ultimate Ninja Series. It was released on 16 September, less than a year after its predecessor, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst (damn, these titles are long). So what has changed, if anything at all? Is this really a new game or just a slightly repackaged re-release? The answers a muddy “maybe”.

What’s new?

“This time we’ve completely revamped the battle system,” says Hiroshi Matsuyama, President of Cyber Connect 2. So what makes Revolution different than its predecessors? Well, to start off with there are a lot of firsts for the gaming series. Initial reactions make it seem much like any other Ultimate Ninja title, but when you dig a little deeper you will see that some profound changes were made.

Firstly, there are now over 100 playable Shinobi (the titular Ninja’s) to choose from, encompassing most characters from the entire TV series so far. It’s the largest roster of characters in a Naruto game yet, with its predecessor having around 80 heroes to choose from. Each playable hero now has three different styles to choose from: Ultimate Jutsu Type (original method of playing Naruto, charging up chakra to do Ultimate Jutsu moves), Awakening Type (player charges chakra to enter super mode) and Drive Type (emphasis on team attacks, enabling you to do character specific attacks, especially teams with narrative relations). “That means there’s a total of more than 300 different playable characters to enjoy game with!” Hiroshi boldly explains. And I agree, in theory.

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Another new feature is the ability to include minor customizations to your protagonist. Although this isn’t as advanced as you might like, it is a welcome addition to the Naruto gaming franchise and something I hope they will expand on in the future. It is mainly aimed at the online versus matches, so that you can have a bit more of an individual look to your hero, adding some variety to the characters you will be playing and facing in the online gaming world. Don’t get too excited though as you will only be able to do this if you have the save files for the previous Naruto title, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst (this is a large slip-up on Cyber Connect 2’s part).

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Alongside the usual game modes such as Free Battle (where you choose from your selection of unlocked characters to face the computer or friend), online battle (where you compete against Ultimate Ninja players around the world) there are now options for Ninja Escapades and Ninja World Fighting Tournament. The Mission challenges seen in previous games have fallen away with the storyline mode having changed a great deal, which I will expunge on shortly.

The Ninja Escapdes mode is the most exciting new addition. Instead of playing through the TV series story-line, Ultimate Ninja Storm provides you with totally new “episodes” that are exclusive to the game. Naruto fans will love this as it touches on subjects such as the origins of the Akatsuki (a group of evil Shinobi from the series) the events leading up to Itachi’s betrayal of his own clan, the Uchiha, and how he got his Mangekyou Sharigan, a devastating ninja eye technique.

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Here you will watch brilliantly written episodes where the fights are put into your own hands. You play with a wide variety of characters concerned with the story compared to the previous game where you mostly only played as Naruto. For those who are not familiar with the TV show, the cinematic parts of the Ninja Escapades might be a bit long and confusing but luckily it is skippable. For those of you who are as avid a fan as I am, this intriguing and absorbing part of the game will be over way too soon.

The Ninja World Tournament is probably the most noticeable change to the game. This game mode replaces the RPG story-line mode of the previous game. It takes you to festival Island where the Ninja World Fighting Tournament is taking place, a competition that will reveal who is the greatest Shinobi of them all. As exciting as this sounds and could have been, it is a part of the game that was a big let down to me.

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Here, instead of only playing with Naruto through the TV show’s storyline, you are able to choose any unlocked character. There’s still the utterly crap third-person method of roaming the island where your character runs around slower than a turtle (and not a ninja turtle). Instead of playing through a narrative (which was a huge spoiler alert for anyone who wasn’t current with the Naruto series) you now only focus on the tournament.

And now to the battle. I expected this tournament mode to be an all-out battle up the ladder of characters. But instead you take part in a match with four other opponents, and the aim is not to defeat them. Here, your objective is to inflict damage to your opponent, which in turn will then drop certain amount of orbs related to the amount of damage inflicted. You must then collect these orbs and the Ninja with the most orbs, after the time limit has expired, is the winner of the match. I get that Cyber Connect wanted to do something new and innovative but I feel that this will not be a very popular addition for die-hard fans of the Naruto gaming series.

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Even though there are some changes that I am not so happy about, Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution turned out to be a brilliantly addictive fighting game. The graphics are vivid and sharp with a smooth frame-rate that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the battle. As always the fighting controls are responsive and easy to use. With the addition of new characters there are also loads of new moves to feast your eyes upon, something I’ve always loved about the Naruto series and games.

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But once you nail the controls, no other fighting game will ever be enough for you. With the addition of each character being able to choose between three different combat styles (Ultimate Jutsu, Awakening, Drive) the string of fighting possibilities has grown so immensely from previous titles that it will be ages before you get bored with this game. The new team combos add even more fighting eye candy, leaving you in awe as the amazing super move cut-scenes take place on your screen.

The game’s control system is a bit more complex than other fighting games, but that is also because it provides you with considerably more combat possibilities. As expected, you can execute a wide range of hand-to-hand combat moves. You can add chakra to these combos to increase their damage and make them even more visually pleasing. If you are trapped in a combo you can pull off a “kawarimi” (body replacement technique) that teleports behind the opponent, creating an opening for you to attack. Use this sparingly though as it is limited and you’ll have to wait for your substitution bars (yellow gauge beneath your blue chakra gauge) to refill before you can use it again.

Other actions you can perform includes your Ultimate Jutsu (Super Move), Team Ultimate Jutsu (including your support members in your super move) and calling in your support characters to do either a single defensive or offensive move. The possibilities are endless but this also means that it will take a while to get use to the control system. Even though this game can be played on PC it was still designed with a controller in mind. You are able to rebind your keys but I’ve tried multiple layouts on a keyboard and it just never comes close to the freedom of using a console controller.

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolutions, despite its downfalls, has become my favourite in the series so far. The plethora of new characters made me grin from ear to ear, making me feel as if I am in a Naruto wonderland with loads of new gifts to open. I was extremely pleased with the evolution of the game play. This title goes back to the roots of the Ultimate Ninja games, placing more focus on the development of the versus battles, the main reason why we play these games in the first place. The exclusive content was also a major bonus, giving the game a full and well rounded finish. As this is only a half-way point to Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 it makes me extremely anxious to see what the next title will bring. But fortunately Cyber Connect 2 has left us with a pretty damn good way to keep ourselves busy until that much-anticipated moment arrives.

Score: 8/10

Wiehahn Diederichs


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