Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is the latest entry in the Ninja Storm series by Cyberconnect2 and Namco Bandai. Preceded by two titles that each covered a saga in the Naruto anime/manga canon, Generations is basically the “Mortal Kombat Trilogy” of the Ninja Storm brand, collecting all the fighters from both games, while adding a few new ones for one massive all-out brawl.
As mentioned earlier, Generations covers both main sagas of the series, the original and Shippuden. In the first, the story follows a boy ninja named Naruto in his quest to become Hokage, the strongest ninja of a village. In his journey of self-discovery he faces many trials and adversity, makes lifelong friends and new enemies. In Shippuden, it further follows the adventures of Naruto and his friends, but takes place many years later, starting with his return from secluded training with his teacher and friend named Jiraiya. The stories are your standard anime fare, with lots of action, characters, and drama. Unfortunately, since the game is cramming both stories into one title, players of the game looking to get their first taste of the fiction will only get a heavily summarized version of the tale, losing quite a bit of the back story.
The main draw of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is that it compiles all the fighters from the previous two titles and puts them together. Past generations of characters can clash with their future selfs, permitting players to see which version of a character is better. Dream matches can also be finally played out. With both rosters available, and some new characters exclusive to the game, the character count is staggering: 72 fighters are available for matches and 87 for tag teams (some characters are only available as assists).
The game looks and plays like a dream, already based on a fun and solid fighting game system that provides exciting, fast paced, martial arts combat with animation and sound so slick that it could pass off as an anime. New improvements on the fighting system can be seen in Generations, as the development team has tweaked some gameplay mechanics to make it easier for new players to get into the action, while allowing advanced players to improve their skills and techniques. An example of such a tweak is the improvement in the usage of the substitution jutsu; in previous titles the accuracy needed to pull it off was great, therefore proving harder to use for new players. Now it’s much easier to pull off, but it comes with a price: the player may only utilize it four times in a row, and must then wait for the jutsu to recharge for further use. Other small improvements abound, such as now defendable team ultimate jutsus, Shuriken spammers are more vulnerable, and more.
One of the biggest differences in Generations from the previous versions is the lack of a dedicated story mode, cutting out the free-roaming adventure sections of the first two titles in favor of a series of battles with cutscenes and art stills detailing various characters story lines. Those looking to continue playing the adventure mode will find it quite disappointing to the game does not feature such a option. But then again, since the title is more of a compilation of two story lines that have been covered previously, the removed feature doesn’t really alter the experience.
In addition to story mode, the game also features a variety of modes that allow the player to further participate in more ninja conflict. In Free mode, the player can partake in single, tag team matches or tournaments against the computer or friends offline or online. The player can earn ranking points to ascend the online leaderboards and prove he/she is the best around. There’s also a training mode where people can practice combo strings, jutsus, and come up with strategies without the stress of being hit back.
Other than playing with the always enjoyable fighting system, there isn’t really much to do in the game. By earning credits through battle, players can spend their hard earned cash in the shop to purchase new skins for the substitution jutsu, titles, card images, and ninja tools. Some of these can be used to add effects to the online portion of the game; like the cards, which apply various bonuses to certain attributes in battle; and ninja tools, which can be used in battle as weaponry or serve other functions like providing extra stamina or applying negative statuses to an opponent. Most of the others, like titles, are just for show. There’s also a Collection mode where art, cutscenes, ultimate jutsus animations and more can be viewed on demand.
By basically being a compilation of the previous two titles in the series, not much has changed or been added to the game to make it unique. The game engine and fighting system is still solid though, and it has a nice tweak or two that improves an already good fighting game system. For those hooked on the adventures of Naruto or are looking for an easy yet deep fighting game, look no further, as Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations has you covered.