I had a lot of mixed feelings writing this review for Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections. For one, the nostalgia of being in the Naruto universe brought back some incredible feelings. It made me want to rewatch the series. This was amplified by some of the game’s engaging battles.
But on the other hand, there’s a lot I feel Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections completely botched. Both story modes felt underwhelming and undercooked, in ways that I’ll explain further below. It’s disheartening to say that I wish there was more to experience for the single-player gamer.
Here’s my review for Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, which ultimately felt like a mixed bag of a game.
Intense combat mechanics
This is my first Ninja Storm game, let alone the first Naruto game I’ve ever played, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I didn’t expect was a set of combat mechanics so detailed and intense that it took a few days of practice and tutorial-reading to wrap my head around it all. Maybe I was underestimating how good of a battle system these games have, but I wasn’t expecting a fighting system with such depth and nuance.
After learning most of the basics with a few tougher tricks mixed in, combat made me feel like a genius on the battlefield. You typically play in 3v3 teams, getting to choose between over 130 characters from the Naruto and Boruto universe. It’s overwhelming, to say the least, when deciding who to choose. But the characters that I did try out had wildly different move sets, with everyone having their own Special Techniques and Jutsus.
The combat scenarios are tough but enjoyable if you can withstand the onslaught. Occasionally, this was to its detriment, when I’d run out of Substitution Jutsus and the enemy would throw a dozen punches at me with no break in sight, leaving me unable to defend myself at all. I’d go from winning the fight to getting wrecked in the blink of an eye because I couldn’t interrupt the enemy’s combos. It’s ultimately a minor issue that didn’t change the fact that I really enjoyed the combat.
History vs Special Story mode
Unfortunately, I found the two single-player modes uninteresting, leaving me yearning for a different type of single-player experience altogether. Although I’m not totally familiar with the older Ninja Storm games, I know many of the Naruto games allowed you to do some free roaming around Konoha. Sadly, Special Story mode was just a visual novel that would occasionally break into battles.
I was sort of hoping for a more hands-on single-player experience that allowed me to walk around Konoha, but perhaps that’s just not what these games aim to achieve. I can’t fault it for that, but the only gameplay in Boruto’s Special Story mode was the battles. And even when it cut to the story, it wasn’t very interesting. Some of the antagonists felt like copycat villains, while a precious few offered a spark of personality and life that livened up the narrative.
There were some moments that pulled me in, but then it would cut to a dreadfully dull scene, and poof – my interest was decimated. It’s unfortunate. The story mode and the single-player experience overall had so much untapped potential. History Mode rehashes the story from the beginning of Naruto to the end of Shippuden, jumping between anime stills to old battles from Naruto’s youth. History Mode doesn’t have much meat on its bones either, yet at times, I found myself preferring it over the main campaign.
The customization options are wild. With around 130 characters to play around with, you not only get hundreds of costumes, but a plethora of accessories to purchase with in-game currency. I enjoyed heading to the accessories area to purchase some funny cat ears or bat wings for Sasuke and the like to wear.
However, the costumes are quite expensive. You have everything from warrior’s garb to summer swimsuits, and a ton of color variations as well. If you’re playing Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections with some friends, or simply doing online battles, I could see the customization being even more enjoyable.
What’s also super customizable are the teams. If you have the correct combination of characters on your team, you can create a Combination Secret Technique. For example, Naruto and Sasuke will have a special Linked Secret Technique together with a unique scene and animation. The amount of combinations seems endless, and I’ve still yet to discover them all.
Looks and feels good
One thing I will point out is how good Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections looks and feels. It’s been seven years since the previous Ninja Storm installment, and although I don’t fully know the improvements, I do know this iteration runs well and is visually pleasing. Not stunning, but it brings the anime to life well enough.
I never once had issues with frame rate or bugs, but that didn’t surprise me, since it’s not a graphically-intensive game in the slightest. Combat moves feel highly responsive with no lag to account for as well. The game looks its best during cutscenes in the Special Story mode, and during battles. When those huge moments happen during a crazy Special Technique, the animation is crisp, and the action is better than ever before.
A roller coaster of feelings
Overall, there were some moments in Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections where I was really enjoying my time with it, and then other moments when I wished for more than I was getting. The things I was most let down by were the Special Story and History modes, which are central to the single-player experience. But if you’re planning to play this game for multiplayer purposes only, then I think you’re in for a fun time. Although I do feel like the single-player experience shouldn’t have had to be diminished to make sure the core battle features were stellar.