Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers -- Shinobi Dreams and Jutsu Wishes
The Naruto franchise is without question very popular. It has created a lore-rich world and introduced us to a multitude of compelling characters. Not only has the anime been highly successful, but so have the games based on it. With the latest, Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers, now available on major console and PC, that trend mostly continues.
Shinobi Strikers is a MOBA of sorts that uses the entire history of the franchise as the backdrop. You play in the present timeline of an adult-village-leader Naruto and his son/the game's titular hero, Boruto. You are thrust into a worldwide competition among other ninjas where you'll compete online to get stronger and be the best shinobi. So this game a new Naruto game actually fun? Find out in our review below.
Entering The World Wide Web of Shinobi
If you've ever wondered what you'd look like in the world of Naruto, fret not. One of the game's more interesting aspects is its character creation mode. You'll be able to dial in your height, body type, starting village, and more, as well as choose your gender in what can be described as a pretty robust editor.
As a person of color myself, I really do appreciate games with a solid character reaction. Strikers has an assortment of skin tones you choose from. It's an extra touch of inclusion that makes you feel good.
You could spend a good amount of time creating yourself in-game, and a lot of players certainly will. For those who are big fans of customization, this mode lets them differentiate themselves in an already grossly established world -- not to mention show their swag when taking on other players.
In the beginning, options are limited, but as you play, more and more options will become available. One of the main draws of Shinobi Strikers is content (more on that later), but here, you can unlock so many clothing options the more you play that things can get overwhelmed. Every accessory, tattoo, and piece of clothing you've ever seen in Naruto is unlockable, adding a sense of real uniqueness to Shinobi Strikers.
Tailoring Your Ninja's Arsenal
After creating your avatar, you can assign yourself a particular fighting style. Within those fighting styles, characters can use signature moves straight from the series. For example, I have a character that's literally a clone of Rock Lee. Essentially, he uses powerful hand-to-hand combat and fast movements. With time, you can eventually have a ninja that can fight exactly like Sasuke or Naruto himself.
Each of the game's missions (which we'll talk about below) rewards you and provides drops to increase your repertoire of techniques (jutsus). There's a lot jutsu available in the world to find and use, so you don't have to lock into anyone particular playstyle or fighting style if you don't want to, adding even more creative options to the game.
Aside from techniques, players are also able to use a plethora of weapons in Shinobi Strikers. You can charge into battle with a giant broad sword, samurai blade, or a simple kunai. That's just the tip of the ostensible iceberg, with dozens and dozens of other options available.
Clash with your Heart's Content
Battle (ranked, unranked matches) comes in the form of 4 on 4 battles. 8 players (2 randomly selected teams) fight it out within random chosen arenas of various sizes and designs. Now, consider the fact you can run anywhere on a map. Whether you're upside down a giant tree branch, or along side a mountain cliff, you can fight anywhere as well.
Like most brawlers, you can use light attacks and heavy attacks. Light attacks allow quick attacks that can interrupt actions. Heavy attacks, are slower but they can knock down enemies on impact. You can also defend, dodge and parry as well. You'll definitely need experience to become both defensively and offensively efficient.
Fighting is definitely a visual treat. From your weapons, special moves, and fighting styles battles often look like a scene plucked from the anime -- but there is a minor downside to that.
When the eight of you are fighting close to one another and using a bunch of flashy moves, the game can experience a few frame rate drops here or there. It doesn't break the immersion but it's noticeable at times.
As this is a MOBA, you and your team can communicate via in-game chat. This coordination can certainly help you win. I personally never used it and had no issues wining with a plethora of teams. You can actually communicate pretty well with in game gestures and expressions available to anyone. Objectives are made very clear by the game itself so
Battle does varies from degree to degree with each match. Your team may encounter an easy series of wins over weaker teams. Or you could find yourself losing back to back from much stronger teams. The reason being is that matchmaking isn't so great, yet. Now when you do fight enemies closer to your rank and level, battle is a bit more fair.
Fighting All of Ninja History
When you start the game, you'll be introduced to a brief tutorial that helps you get familiarized with the game's hub area. After learning the ropes, you'll then be introduced to online matches, which are either ranked or random.
You can spend hours trying to increase your rank to climb the leaderboards if that's your thing. However, you can also take part in ranked missions, of which the game has plenty.
These missions are separate from your battle rankings and leaderboards. These missions are for your solo career as a ninja but you can join players on a tone. With each rank you have a number of missions available to you. They are unlocked by fulfilling requests from NPCs and so forth.
From capture the flag, collectathons, and bouts against major characters, the choices are plentiful. Shinobi Strikers is built to be what I call a good weekend time-sink; whether you're able to play for one hour or 24, there's enough to indulge yourself in when you take its modes into consideration. To the game's credit, tackling missions requires little to no commitment, but it also knows that some of us like to grind levels, so it does a great job of bridging that gap.
However, not all of the experiences of Shinobi Strikers are cherry blossoms. While there's plenty of content for the game, that content is mostly aesthetical. Overall, Shinobi Strikers doesn't leave a lasting impression after you've played it for a few hours. At its core, it feels like a game that you could easily put on the back burner -- especially if you're not into ranked play.
Another hard-to-miss issue is the game's matching making. When you battle in ranked and random matches, you'll be placed in arenas with players who are many levels higher than you. This creates very-hard-to-win battles because the gap in skills and experience is often very high. It's often frustrating (at best), and you'll likely just opt to play online coop missions instead.
A Conclusion of Our Ninja Adventures
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers is an interesting game for fans. It allows people to play a Naruto game they've been waiting for for ages, a game where you can insert yourself into the world and become your own ninja.
Shinobi Strikers is also a game that mostly respects your time. Being able to jump into the world and tackle missions at your own pace is welcomed in a world that is filled with long-winded games. The title encourages players to play whenever they can, and there are occasional bonuses and campaigns so players can gain more experience, rewards, and more.
To be frank, If you need an enjoyable MOBA or a Naruto game to invest in, I can't recommend Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers enough.
Fans of MOBA and Naruto can play Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers, now available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam.
[Note: The developer provided the copy of Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers used in this review.]