As a fan of the Naruto games for as long as I could remember, the announcement of Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections had piqued my interest once again.
The announcement of Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections were mainly focused on the fact that there were more new characters joining in the roster, with a new story mode featuring Boruto being shown off, on top of the battle mechanics getting a major overhaul.
Instead of going over the general gameplay, we’ll be touching on the new additions and modes in this review.
As the name implies, History Mode includes a storyline that allows players to play through all of Naruto’s history, as well as the cutscenes and the anime’s original voice actors from the Japanese dubbed version.
This mode consist of eight chapters in total that you can begin at any time. The main episodes consists of Episode Scenes and Episode Battles, and once you’ve cleared a Main Episode, you can play it again from any of its scenes or battles.
The core gameplay remains intact in this mode, as each chapter includes a number of optional challenges. Players can also unlock bonus cutscenes depending on how many they complete.
The cutscenes in the game, like its predecessors, are not really animated and are more like stylized slideshows of the anime’s events. Quick Time Events (QTEs) are also present and play an important role in the story modes. It allows you to be a part of some incredible scenes from its source material, which helps to keep some of the longer action cutscenes more engaging.
One minor gripe I have with this is that the slideshows would get less interesting as you progress through the story. There aren’t enough animated cutscenes, and even the amount of QTE has been reduced.
Overall, this game mode can serve as a recap for those who want to relive the iconic anime’s storyline, or as an entirely new way for new fans to learn about one of the most popular anime shows of all time without having to watch all of the episodes or read all the chapters of the manga.
Special Story Mode
The second campaign in the game is called “Special Story” which is designed exclusively for the game. Unlike the History mode, this is a brand-new original story featuring Boruto along with two new original characters.
As you progress through the Special Story, you’ll run into battles that take place in the world of Ninja Heroes. Before the start of every battle, you’ll be taken to the Character Selection screen where you can use anyone you want. Once the battle ends, you’ll appear as Boruto again to continue with the story.
This would be great news for Naruto fans who are always on the lookout for new content. However, it wasn’t as exciting as I’d like it to be, as the experience felt like a visual novel with the occasional fight scenes.
The Special Story Mode does have 3D animated cutscenes with full voice acting, but the animation is a bit on the lackluster side.
Personally speaking, the highlight of Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is the combat system. This title is primarily a fighting game, and while it’s not as technical as other fighting game titles like Street Fighter or Tekken, it still does an excellent job with its great visual combos and the introduction of the accessible “Simple Control Mode”.
While some fans of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series might be put off by the completely optional simplified control scheme, the ability to simplify things for newer players with simple single button attacks and movement is a great addition to the game that keeps combat interesting and engaging in both story mode, as well as going head-to-head against a real opponent.
There’s two types of controls that players can choose from, one being Normal which is the option that is recommended for players who are familiar with the series and would like to play with the same control scheme as before, as the controls are based on those from past games in the series.
The other type of control is the aforementioned Simple controls which is a user-friendly option. It features built-in Assist Functions that provide assistance with battles. When using Simple controls, players can just repeatedly press a button to automatically close in on your opponent and perform combos.
Players can customise the extent of this automatic assistance to suit their playstyle through the Assist Functions settings. As your skills improve, certain types of support may no longer be needed, so you can opt to toggle individual support options to fit your personal needs.
Connections at its core, will be familiar to anyone who has played through other Naruto games, where you would mostly focus on executing combo attacks while also managing your chakra for extravagant special moves, while trying not to use up all of your Substitution Jutsu. All of that is still present, but it’s the small changes that make the difference.
The most significant change is the removal of the Chakra Shurikens and Tilt Move in favour of each character having a second jutsu. It essentially eliminates two of the game’s least valuable mechanics and replaces them with something that everyone can and will use.
Growing up playing the Ultimate Ninja games on PlayStation, I was used to each characters having multiple jutsu options, especially given how many techniques are normally available in the series. Connections provide significantly more attack variety with this second jutsu, especially given how important it is in these games to mix specific types of attacks into combos at specific points.
This is the most significant change, but smaller ones such as health resetting for both players per round, increased chakra regeneration, and items no longer being limited all contribute to Connections playing better than any other game in the series. Storm Connections felt much faster-paced and less reliant on the same combos and single jutsu than previous games, which is great.
So far, the only thing that appears to be lacking are the new stages, as none appear to have been added to the game. While the Ultimate Ninja Storm series has plenty of stages, the locations have remained consistent for several installments.
Huge Roster and Replayability
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections will bring together the rosters and story modes from the four main Ultimate Ninja Storm titles. The dedication to assembling Ultimate Ninja Storm’s record-breaking roster is impressive, and Connections is only pushing it further. Ashura and Indra Otsutsuki, two characters previously confined to a few Shippuden panels and an anime filler arc are now thrust into the spotlight, opening the doors for any outstanding characters in Naruto and Boruto’s universe.
The game introduces seven new characters as well as new versions of a few others, while some existing characters see changes to their Storm versions.
Modified characters were also a lot of fun to watch. The Baryon mode Naruto is the clear standout here, and he’s an absolute blast to play as. Other characters such as Mitsuki who I personally think had a pretty lackluster moveset in Storm 4 now have a more personalised and unique moveset, such as Mitsuki’s Sage mode. Overall, with over 130 ninjas to choose from, this game has the most playable characters of any Naruto game.
Because of their individual play styles, interactions and how various characters from the series complement each other, the large roster of characters opens up the potential for a ton of replayability. Playing as Naruto, Kushina, and Minato unlocked a short cutscene in which the entire family works together to pull off a coordinated attack. The ability to discover these interactions and find complementary groups will undoubtedly add a lot of replayability to Naruto X Boruto and assist players in creating their own unique team.
Players can also use the Character Customisation menu to personalise the Substitution items, Secret Technique Finish Scenes, and Accessories of different characters. Players can obtain these items through various game modes.
Whether you’re a long-time Naruto fan, a fighting game enthusiast, or simply someone looking to get into one of the most popular anime series of all time, Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is a great way to get started with both the anime and the Ultimate Ninja Storm series.
The main drawbacks for the title are the overall presentation, which includes a rather tedious History Mode full of slideshows and a visual novel like Special Story Mode. Both of these modes didn’t particularly pique my interest. Another thing to note is that the graphics haven’t been greatly improved either.
With its simple and intuitive gameplay, multiple modes, and endlessly customisable team combinations, this game is shaping up to be the complete package for both newcomers and veterans alike.
Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections was reviewed on PlayStation 5, review code provided by the publishers.
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- Combat System is greatly improved and much more fun to play with
- Visual effects during combos and Jutsus are a visual spectacle
- Tons of characters to try out, which meant lots of replayability
- No dramatic improvements to graphics
- History Mode and Special Story mode isn't as captivating