The Naruto anime series has had many renditions into video games across various platforms. Of all the games that have been made, some of the more successful titles focused on the ninja combat combined with interactive cutscenes that recreate the finer moments of the anime series. While these were the better aspects of previous titles, the latest iteration, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, focuses on the ninja combat of the show rather than recreating the story evens of the anime. All of the characters from the Shippuden story arcs of the show come together for a battle royale to determine the strongest ninja in the world. What results is a ninja melee that fans of the show would be very pleased to be a part of, with a few mishaps along the way.
There are four main modes in the game, the World Ninja Tournament, Ninja Escapades, Online Multiplayer, and Free Battles. What makes this game different from its predecessors is the heavy emphasis on the fighting. Fighting online against other players is both a hit and miss experience. The matchmaking does have a lot of options to utilize when finding someone to play with online. Yet the quality of matches is very rocky with connection issues and poor matchmaking with other players of similar rank.
The biggest change in the fighting system this time around is the inclusion of battle types for each fighter, which mildly changes up the dynamic of matches. When selecting a character you are given the choice of an Ultimate Ninjutsu type, Awakening Type, or Support Type of style to use in a match. Each style has different abilities available and locked that give balance to fights and allow for each character in the roster to be played radically differently. This gives for a variety of matchups, but the core momentum of matches still comes down to who can use their substitution justsu, and parry ability the smartest and counterattack enough.
Outside of the traditional online matches and free-play modes that give the basic fighting that is known in the Naruto games, Ninja World Tournament and Escapades changes up things heavily for the series. Ninja World Tournament provides a “side-story” experience where you choose a character to enter a big tournament. Battles play out as 4-player melees where the object isn’t to KO opponents, but collect enough orbs from attacking the opposition and win. In this mode there are a whole new set of options that open up during a match, including the ability to use the environment to attack enemies such as a rail or NPC attacker. The fights can get very hectic as more and more obstacles and hazards appear on maps, sometimes enough to slow down the frame rate heavily. This doesn’t make battles unplayable, but it does happen in later matches enough to become noticeable.
What is confusing however is the way the story aspect of the Ninja World Tournament is delivered, both in substance and in priority. The real story of the Ninja World Tournament is only accessible after playing through the mode one time with any character. Once opened, a mediocre story about a mechanized version Naruto, one that makes very little sense, can be played. This does give more of a complete sense of narrative to the Ninja World Tournament, as the events that take place play out very similar to the Ninja World Tournament from before. This is very confusing as it seems like the developers intended for this to be the real mode to play out at first before being able to use any character in Ninja World Tournament mode.
Those who are looking for a better element of story from Revolution can try the Ninja Escapades mode. Here, you will be able to play through a series of matches based off side stories in the Naruto anime, mainly before the big events of the Shippuden storyline. In addition, fans will be happy to see new never before seen anime sequences complete with English and Japanese voice acting.
There are three stories to play through including the story behind the creation of the Akatski, the story of Itachi Uchiha, and a short sequence before the events of the anime. The stories are all done very well and provide some interesting details that fans of the show will love, while newcomers will not have the same level of appreciation of their events. There definitely should have been more stories to play through and experience, as the stories seem to end all too suddenly. Even if the story selections were that of the events of the anime, or other side-stories, they would have been a great addition.
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Revolution is not the best entry in the series, but it does have some positive advances over its predecessors. The team-based combat is a great change to the fighting, but the frame rate drops slow things down a bit. Ninja Escapades are a great way to get some good backstory on the Naruto universe, yet only those who have watched the anime may get their significance. Fans of Naruto will get some enjoyment here, but anyone not familiar with Naruto will want to look at one of the previous titles of the series, or watch the anime, before being able to fully enjoy this game.
This review was based off a physical copy of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution for the PlayStation 3 provided by Bandai Namco.