Naruto X Boruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections preview: an arena fighter for a new generation

Even though it seems like Ultimate Ninja Storm games are coming out in droves, it’s been seven years since the last one. During this time, the torch was passed from Boruto’s father to Boruto himself, with the anime and manga carrying that legacy. People have gradually warmed to Boruto as the anime has intensified, but Boruto also aims to usher in a new generation of fans. That’s where Naruto X Boruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections comes in, picking up where the 3D arena battle series left off.

This new entry is something of a “greatest hits” for the Ultimate Ninja Storm games that coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Naruto anime. It features an extensive roster of over 130 characters throughout Naruto’s history and the two story modes that merge what’s old and new in the franchise. As I got my hands on this latest Summer Game Fest entry, it brought a strong sense of familiarity while channeling the same energy I expected from a fast and flashy arena-style fighter – now, for a new era.

Mechanically, Naruto X Boruto plays similarly to previous games in the series with two players battling it out in a 3D arena using basic attacks, combos, alternate dodges, and a variety of wild Jutsus. It’s also a tag-fighter, with each player having a team of three characters they can trade with during combat. While this system lets you mix and match your favorite characters for different team compositions, what you really want to do is prepare for Combination Ultimate Jutsus. These were in Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, but now with a roster of Boruto characters, we can run a whole new variety of them. For example, Boruto and Kawaki attacked in unison, with Kawaki helping to power up Boruto’s Rasengan, for a ton of damage.

With the Chakra meter full and your health bar red, you can once again enter Awakened Mode, functioning as both a throwback mechanic and also a neat show. Naruto’s new Nine-Tailed Fox transformation in particular is one that looks sick as hell. Achieving Ultimate Jutsus solo is a series staple, and it’s pretty awesome to do it with new characters – with new villain Jigen in the mix, seeing him use Otsotsuki’s power to summon a Disruption Cube and crushing opponents brings that -the flair of the top, these games do so well.

Apart from the explosive anime-inspired spectacle, a new simplified control scheme allows newcomers to get started without having to learn the technique to do the cool stuff. I mostly used the simplified controls during my demo time to get a feel for it, and I can see how it makes the game feel more welcoming, especially for those who may not be used to fighters or battle games. stock. The series was never really known for its complexity initially, but it makes sense to have an option like this to reach a wider audience, which was one of the biggest development goals according to the producer. Masaya Yoshizawa.

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Beyond new characters and gameplay tweaks, Boruto X Naruto features two story modes – one called story mode, for old timers like me, and the other called special story mode which puts Boruto front and center. Story Mode is presented as a playable campaign that captures key moments from the original Naruto series – the battles you’ve experienced in previous games in the series, which can also serve as a glimpse into the series’ past for those might come into this game as a pure Boruto fan. On the other hand, the special story mode takes you through the crucial battles seen in the Boruto anime and highlights the events so far. And as someone who’s been on the fringes of this new generation of the franchise, that’s an attractive entry point.

On this topic, I also asked Yoshizawa about the perception of Boruto as a series, its steady rise, and its life in Naruto’s shadow. He said that one of the goals of the special story mode is for players to “become aware of Boruto and then maybe get interested in watching the anime or reading the manga.” Yoshizawa also mentioned, “The team thinks [Boruto’s story] gradually becoming popular. Of course, if you compare it to Naruto, it might not be as much. But we think it’s become popular [enough]that’s why we have special story mode [in addition to] historical fashion.”

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Regardless of what you think of the 3D arena fighting subgenre, it’s a reliable platform for adaptations of some of the most renowned shonen anime, which has certainly led to some success, but with varying degrees of quality. My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, Kill la Kill, and Shonen Jump’s roundup of stars in Jump Force all adopted this similar foundation established by the Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi games and evolved by the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm series. They may not be groundbreaking or add much to the anime canon you know and love, but they have created some fun action series with characters playing true to the source material.

In my hands-on experience, that seems to be the case with Boruto X Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, which will launch later this year for PlayStation platforms, Xbox consoles, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

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