I don’t have a clue what the Naruto series is about. All I recognize from the series is a handful of characters from the previous games like Naruto of course and his bitter rival Sasuke. Let’s just get that out of the way. I’m coming in to this game nearly fresh. Considering that Naruto’s last outing on home consoles caught my attention with its slick presentation and epic battles, I dived in to this game with high expectations. Thankfully, Naruto and his friends once again show off how to properly create a video game based off a Japanese anime that should be played by longtime fans and newcomers alike.
Naruto Generations does an amazing job portraying the animated series in a video game fashion. The graphics are a sight to behold, beautifully representing the crazy cast of characters from the series in spades. The game feels like an anime come to life and is a joy to witness, especially while watching epic battles filled with flashy attacks. Characters are crisp and faithful to the series and will make you feel like you are watching the anime as you play.
The game’s fighting mechanics are simple but get the job done. You only press one button to perform attacks and combine the control stick in different directions to create different combos. You don’t have to remember complicated commands or press a bunch of buttons to perform flashy moves, which is a good thing for those new to the series, even if it invites button mashers to the game. It takes a little time to get used to the controls but you’ll quickly perform fireball jutsu’s and lighting storm attacks with little to no effort.
That’s not to say that the game can’t use an extra dose of depth. Even with the game’s simplicity, you are stuck using the same attacks given to each character. You can change attacks by moving the control stick in different directions combined with the attack button but it would have been nice to see the game feature more customization found in other anime fighting games like in Dragon Ball Z. The game also features team based battles that enable players to call in assist characters but it would have been nice if you could be able to switch between characters during a match rather than keep assist characters always in the sidelines.
New to Naruto Generations is an “Awakening Mode”, which can be activated when a character has less than half of their health gauge remaining. Think of this as a revenge mode of sorts, making your fighter not only increase in strength for a limited time but also transforming them into beast versions of themselves, such as Naruto turning into his Tailed Beast Chakra Mode. You will also find a new substitution meter that limits how many times players can avoid attacks, mixing up the fighting mechanics for veterans of Ultimate Ninja Storm 2.
Story mode in Generations is now more streamlined this time around, removing the need of a hub world and simplifying storylines as multiple stages that takes the player through key battles in a character’s history. Think of it as Arcade mode mixed with story elements through the whole experience. You can only play through some character’s storylines, such as young Naruto’s and Itachi Uchiha’s story. For veteran Naruto fans, the story mode does a great job getting you to the epic battles each character is known for in the series with a quick recap of what happens prior to and after each fight, but for newcomers such as myself, the game does very little to involve new players into the story. After some time, I caught myself struggling to understand what was going on in the story and just played through each character’s story to unlock more characters to play as in versus mode.
Speaking of characters, Naruto Shippuden: Generations features a huge roster of characters to choose from that spans both parts of the animated series. Most of the characters in the game can only be unlocked by playing through Story mode. There are over 70 fighters to choose from, along with special characters that can only be chosen as assists, but some of the characters in the roster are just different forms of existing characters. You can play as different versions of characters spanning the entire anime but it’s a bummer that different versions of characters make a part of the game’s expansive roster.
The game also features a ton of unlockables that you can buy using in game currency, giving it lots of replayability. I do wish, however, that the unlockables had more meaning to them. You can unlock extra artwork, movies, tools to use in battle, and titles to use online, but you can’t unlock extra characters or stages to use other than in story mode. It would have been nice if you could unlock characters just by fighting in versus mode but it’s just a minor complaint.
Online, you can fight in casual and ranked matches, four to eight player tournaments, endless battles, and more. The game also throws in a “Ninja Info Card Battle” that uses trading cards to increase a fighter’s attributes before a match begins, adding some more strategy to a typical fight. There’s plenty to keep players busy online, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations does an amazing job replicating the popular anime series in video game form. The game is much faster and streamlined than Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 and is the most beautiful anime game I’ve ever played. Longtime fans of the series will not be disappointed with this release and new players will have a blast seeing devastating attacks pulled off with little to no effort. If there’s one anime based fighting game you need to play, it’s Naruto generations. You won’t be disappointed.
Final Score: 9/10