Ok, so another year, another Naruto game by the Cyber Connect 2 guys. Yes, while drowning in a sea of unplayed games, I have made time to log in about 30 hours into Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. So has franchise fatigue finally hit home on my love for Naruto games? Hardly.
It's that time again!
Covering both the young Naruto story line, and the even younger Naruto story line, Generations lets players pick some of the marque characters and play through a series of battles (with narration in between) that are meant to reenact all of the fights they've had throughout their fictional lives. It's a nice way to concisely showcase the story of the series, and at the same time put you in the shoes of some of the characters you may or may not be familiar with: depending on how big of a nerd you are. Gone is the RPG like story mode of Storm 2, and with it the crazy boss battles. Instead there is some shoddily drawn anime to bookend the characters story mode. The anime looks nowhere near as good as the actual game, but I suppose is a nice way to get anyone totally unfamiliar with the characters to be more confused about the characters, and wonder why anyone would watch such a poorly animated cartoon.
If this gets you excited, then NERD!!!!!
As far as gameplay goes, Generations is not straying too far from its predecessor's formula. You run around in full 3d, have a jump , attack, and ranged attack button. You mash out combo strings, and can perform one jutsu using a "chakra modifier" button. New to the gameplay though is the way the replacement technique works. Basically you have a meter with 4 bars that represents how many times you can get out of a combo, throw, jutsu, etc. The meter refills over time, but once it's gone, there is no escaping from a combo. If you're unfamiliar with the replacement technique, shame on you. Replacement technique is dedicated to its own button, that when pushed in time with an enemy attack, will teleport your character out of the combo and behind the attacker. Now I know you are all thinking "A move that insta-teleports you away from attacks! LOL this game BLOWS!" Well they have added something new to counter this as well.
There is now a combo cancel. So if in the middle of a combo your enemy teleports away and behind you, you can actually combo cancel out so you are not stuck taking abuse in the middle of a combo animation. The combo cancel however takes chakra. If this all sounds confusing, that's because it kind of is. Granted you can skip all of this minutia and just mash on the attack button to see some of the coolest animations on the market, but then you may be missing the point a little. Overall the combat feels the standard "shallow at first glance" , but "a tiny bit less shallow" on a closer inspection. It's not a technical fighter , but has never claimed to be.
PRO Naruto, with some terrrrrible rap.
Now the awesome part. 70+ playable characters! Man, talk about fan service. Sure they get away with some cheats by having a younger version and older version of the same character, and yeah, they have like 5 versions of Naruto, but overall the cast is one of the biggest in any game I've ever played. A lot of the characters sort of feel the same, since combos are all a standard button string (of one button). However, once you go into "awakened mode" (charging up chakra when your life is low) you can see some serious diversity between the characters.
So damn good!
As far as visuals, Generations is on point, as all the Storm games have been. The crazy boss battles are sorely missed, but since the last game covered all that, it would be sort of redundant to just do it again. There is a large install before you can play, but the game still suffers from what feels like constant loading. Menus, fights, rematches: all are punctuated by boring load screens. Apart from that though the game looks great, runs good, and makes me wonder why all anime isn't just animated by Cyber Connect.
I know I am getting too old to keep buying these games, but dammit if I don't enjoy them. Abortion Fist always talks of "guilty Pleasure" games. I guess you could classify the Naruto games as mine, except I don't feel guilty at all.