Have you ever played a game based on a movie or TV show that didn’t fail on an epic level? We can discuss games like Full Metal Alchemist, CSI, Harry Potter or even Shrek and still come to the conclusion that each game adaptation is mediocre at best. It’s because of this expected assumption that Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm ended up being such an enjoyable gaming experience. Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, developed by CyberConnect2, is based off of the iconic television show Naruto. As many gamers are probably already aware, Naruto is a mischievous, ramen loving, yellow-haired Ninja who is possessed by the spirit of the Nine-Tailed Fox.
Naruto: UNS spans across the first 100 episodes (give or take a few) of the anime’s storyline. This allows Naruto fanatics to partake in memorable moments from the TV show as well as enjoy mini-games and the ability to roam freely through the Hidden Leaf Village. All of this is possible through Ultimate Mission Mode, which is the most expansive game mode available.
Ultimate Mission Mode is a casual adventure mode in a title that would otherwise be a pure fighting game. Within this mode, gamers can freely run around the Hidden Leaf Village in order to find hidden scrolls, breakable barrels filled with money, and even scattered secrets. The coolest aspect of the Hidden Leaf Village, however, is the ability to scale the buildings with well timed jumps while creating your own “parkour-like” experience. The way you can maneuver atop of the city is kind of similar to Assassin’s Creed, but you won’t find Naruto doing too many pull-ups or ladder climbs to achieve it. This spunky ball of hyperactivity jumps his way to rooftops allowing you to run across large portions of the village in as little time as possible.
Of course, this isn’t all Ultimate Mission Mode has to offer. As expected with the title, missions are a huge portion of this game mode. There are 100 missions to complete within the main storyline. They’re broken down into specific levels of difficulty, and must be completed in order to progress the story, as well as earn rewards and items. These missions range from standard fights to mini-games to nostalgic boss battles. Unfortunately, the mini-game aspect of Naruto: UNS is very shallow. The bulk of the mini-games involve making your way through trees whilst dodging branches. This can lead to repetitive gameplay, but it doesn’t detract from the overall entertainment value that much.
Free Battle Mode is the other option that Naruto: UNS offers. This mode is used to finely tune your skills as well as beat up on your less skilled friends. As expected, this is a standard fighting mode. Two characters are pitted against one another with the aid of two support characters on each side. The support characters are triggered by your L1/R1 buttons. This causes them to jump into the field of play, deliver a special attack and then leave. For some, the combat mechanics may feel too simplified, while for others they may understand that there is indeed some underlying strategy to the way the game plays. The circle button is going to be your best friend throughout battle due to the fact it allows you to pull off the most devastating moves imaginable. This allows the game to be picked up and played by all comers, but it often leaves a bit to be desired because of the simplistic feel it can leave you with. As previously mentioned, this opinions will be split on whether the game is just a simple button masher or a title worth learning the ins and outs of.
It’s also worth noting that Naruto features incredibly impressive animations. The fluid movements combined with attacks make for a rather stunning performance. CyberConnect2 has done a great job in connecting each movement with the next in order to deliver a very fluid experience.
A word a lot of gamers like to throw around when discussing the visuals of a title is “realistic.” Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm is obviously incapable of providing realistic visuals, however, UNS does provide a realistic representation to that of the actual anime. The character detail is crisp and precise, and the environments and effects look great. When I first loaded up the title, I was taken aback by the look of the game because I had not played the demo. It takes a lot to impress me when it comes to the presentation of a title, but CyberConnect2 earns two big thumbs up for the flawless transition from anime to game.
The developers continued the great visual trend with an audio performance worth recognizing. Unlike other game adaptations where the voiceovers and dialog feel forced, Naruto embraces its characters and pulls anime fans and non-fans alike into the world of the Hidden Leaf Village. While I was disappointed that there wasn’t enough dialog on an overall scale, I can’t knock the game for the dialog it does provide.
Sadly on the technical side of things, Ultimate Ninja Storm does take roughly 10-12 minutes to install. Usually an install isn’t such a bad thing because it leads to shorter load times, but for Naruto, the load times are still lengthy and far too frequent. This may throw off gamers who are a tad ADD, but I’d expect the game to load much quicker considering I had to wait for the install to complete just to play the game.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm may arguably be the best movie or show to game adaptation to date. There are some strong contenders for that title — such as the Chronicles of Riddick — but within this generation, Naruto: UNS is in a league of its own.