Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections builds on the games before it to create a fighting game in the style of titles like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. Although it has the biggest roster in the series yet and four primary game modes, it has a few drawbacks.
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections: Repeating History
The world of Naruto, where skill often determines if a ninja lives or dies, is perfect for a combat-based action game. But Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections isn’t the first game that lets you step into the role of a ninja. In fact, as number five in the series, it wasn’t even supposed to exist if we consider the ending of the previous game, but here we are — revisiting these characters and world again across four game modes.
Going over the game modes in the order they appear in the menu, we have History first. You’ll find this mode to be aptly named as it gives you an overview of the story of Naruto from becoming a genin to the Fourth Great Ninja War. This isn’t the primary attraction for the Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections. But if you haven’t watched the earlier episodes of Naruto in a while — or you’re a bit fuzzy on what happened — it’s a decent way to catch up.
While History mode is effective as a recap in a way that conserves time, it doesn’t do the anime justice. Considering how long the anime is and how many details from it are missing from History, putting in every battle would’ve given the mode a much longer completion time than the current 10-ish hours it takes. That considered, it’s still disappointing that History mode is mostly made up of slideshows and alternating battles. Nothing more.
Continuing the narrative-driven game modes is the Special Story mode. Here, we move away from slideshows — thankfully — to actual cutscenes, and a lot of them. While you follow Boruto here, the narrative revolves around Naruto and Sasuke. The animations are cleaner than in past Storm games but not beyond the general quality we see in the series. Overall, I liked this mode, but there’s one big drawback.
Aside from being able to choose your fighter for most battles (when there are battles), Special Story Mode really isn’t a game mode. The storyline itself is standard for Naruto and Boruto, too. So, while it’s not really groundbreaking, that’s not what makes it one of the weaker game modes. The pacing is slow, the beginning sections are repetitive, and it’s a few hours into the mode’s 10-hour run time before you actually start battling consistently. Yeah, a few hours.
While I understand the online fighting portion is the biggest draw for this series, I would’ve liked the chance to roam around the version of Konoha included in Boruto here — oh, and fight a little bit more.
Then, we have Free Battle and Online Battle modes, which are the primary features drawing most anyone to Storm Connections. Free Battles are done with players on the same console or versus CPUs, whereas Online Battles are done against players you’re matched with online. You get to design your team using the roster of over 130 characters, and your team shares a single health bar. And that single health bar means teamwork is important, in Online Battles particularly. Which also means that one player can’t carry the team alone as easily.
In terms of actual combat, the style remains close to previous Storm games. I made it through Special Story mode by button mashing (another downside to that mode), but Battle modes are a bit more robust, requiring other tricks. Unlike past games, jutsu can’t be canceled through attacking. I found the lack of nuance in the mechanic frustrating because players spam jutsu and you end up powerless to stop them.
Another issue in Battle modes is invisible support attacks. I don’t believe this is an intentional feature, either. But when you or your opponent uses support attacks, you can’t see them. Which means you can’t dodge them either. Ouch (and I mean that quite literally and figuratively).
The game’s full character roster is available immediately, so the playing field is even in that regard. And you’ll find about 10 new characters added. Appearing for the first time among them are a few Otsutsuki clan members, as well as characters from Boruto like Delta. You’ll have access to the same characters as your opponents, but that also means you don’t get the joy of unlocking secret characters. You do, however, get plenty of customization options to unlock through challenges, ryo, and completing the story modes.
Then, the Online Battle mode, in particular, comes with several issues.
First, custom matchmaking to play with your friends online isn’t currently available. Developer CyberConnect2 Co., Ltd. added in their day one patch notes that it will be added later. But if that’s what you wanted from Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, then you might want to wait before purchasing the game. But who knows how long that wait will be.
A few of the biggest issues with Online Battle are players being put in the wrong region and the lack of punishment for players disconnecting. On one hand, the lag from being in the wrong region and issues with the game crashing can result in disconnections that might not be intentional. As frustrating as that can be when your team is at a disadvantage as a result, I don’t think it should have the same punishment as somebody who intentionally disconnects.
However, not having any punishment for players who intentionally disconnect is disappointing at best because you keep putting your team at a disadvantage if you’re doing team matches like 3v3. The combat itself is fun enough, especially if you like fighting games. But the combat-heavy modes that are supposed to be the stars of Naruto x Boruto feel underbaked.
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections Review — The Bottom Line
- Clean combat with control options for new or experienced players.
- A huge character roster for plenty of variety.
- An overwhelming number of customization options.
- Single-player modes are short with standard storylines.
- Online Battle region and disconnection issues.
- Jutsu can’t be canceled with attacks like previous games, leading to spammers.
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is built on the solid foundation of Storm games that came before it. But it fails to truly set itself apart. Between the lack of innovation, numerous issues at launch, and average story modes, Naruto x Boruto ends up feeling unfinished. While the fighting is fun in its own right, this game still needs a fair amount of polish.
[Note: The copy of Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections used in this review was provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment.]
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections: Repeating History
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