I had a chance to check out the previous installment of the Naruto video game series at last year’s Bandai Namco NYC event. I had no idea what I was doing. If a fighting game doesn’t play like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, I tend to get lost and this was no exception. I had to make my preview a hands off one since I let a more competent friend show me the ins and outs of the game.
This year however, things were different. While at the latest Bandai Namco event, I threw my built-in notions of what a fighting game is supposed to be and finally understood how to play a Naruto game. If you’re a fan of the franchise or just like over the top fighting games, then Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is definitely something you’ll enjoy.
After a few screens that showed me the game’s new features (more on those in a bit), I was taken to the character select screen. I picked the members of team Kakashi: Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura as my fighters. For my opponents I picked members of the Hyuga clan: Neji, Hinata, and Hanabi. Why? Because the Byakugan technique freaks me out and I wanted to beat up on people who use it.
The match didn’t start in my favor as all I was able to do was throw shurikens. When I figured out that circle is the main attack button (only the Japanese would make circle be the attack button) that’s when things turned in my favor. I was able to execute a number of flashy looking combos which all flowed very nicely together. I also spammed my Ultimate Ninja Technique to take a lot of damage off my foes. As Naruto, I was even able to turn into, and fight as, the Nine Tailed Fox, which was pretty freakin’ awesome! In between, I had to make sure to recharge my chakra in order to continue doing special and super attacks.
I wasn’t alone however, and was able to bring in members of my team to help out. Better still, I was able to switch between them during the battle. My team shared a health bar, so unlike a game such as Marvel vs Capcom, you can’t swap out a character in order to have more health. With that said, I appreciated being able to swap out characters since it kept things fresh and exciting.
Graphically speaking, this game looks gorgeous. It’s basically the anime in video game form. The animations were silky smooth, and the character models were on point as well. All of the special and super moves looked as impressive as they do on the show, and the game wasn’t one to hold back on the cinematic camera angles whenever something cool happened on screen. Even when I just watched others play, the game was just beautiful to look at.
“Leader Swap” isn’t the only new feature of this game. This title will re-introduce wall running into the series, which will let players attack one another while running up a wall. The difference here is that one player can stay on the ground while the other runs up the wall.
Players can now use all of their fighting types in the game (Ultimate, Awakening, and Drive), whereas before, they had to chose one before the match started. This means that players can use multiple jutsus and ultimate jutsus and not have their options in battle be limited. This is also good so you don’t have to see the same animation for a super technique over and over again.
The game will also introduce “armor breaks,” whereby a character’s clothes can be broken if it takes enough damage. You can see the effects on them too, such as having a character’s armor be on fire if it is hit by a fireball technique. The fire can be extinguished by having the character run around the field. This feature definitely makes the game feel a bit more realistic.
After all of this time, I at last see the appeal of the Naruto video game series. This very much feels like the anime in terms of its tone and presentation. It’s also a very cool fighting game experience if you don’t compare it to the classics of the genre. I think it’s safe to say that fans will once again be please by what Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 has to offer.
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 will be released on the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on February 9, 2016.