Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker Review – The Next Ninja Storm?
Developer: Soleil Ltd.
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: Playstation 4/Xbox One/PC (Steam)*
ESRB Rating: T
Release Date: August 31st, 2018
*The PC Version was used for this review
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker is the first home console Naruto game to be released outside of the “Ultimate Ninja Storm” series since 2010. It does away the traditional three on three battle system popularized in the Storm games and introduces a new multiplayer oriented format that pits teams of four players against each other in a “Dragon Ball Xenoverse” esque hubworld. Does this game manage to prove that the series has legs to stand on outside of the Ultimate Ninja games? Today, we chakra dash right in and take a look.
The story in Shinobi Striker is extremely slim and only serves to set up the various missions and online modes. There is a short explanation that the leaf village is hosting a “Ninja World Tournament” and that everyone who is worth anything is training to try and become the best ninja around. This leads into the singleplayer and multiplayer modes after a short tutorial. The only other aspects of a story are the short cutscenes before or during missions that can introduce boss battles or have short character interactions setting up for the task at hand.
This game shines surprisingly well in the graphical department. The well crafted cell shading coupled with the great Unreal Engine 4 particles creates quite the visual spectacle in the middle of teamfights. All of the moves from the source material are done perfectly and translate really well to the 4v4 player versus player format without it being too over stimulating visually. As for the optimization aspect of things I was able to play at a 4K resolution with mostly 60FPS on max settings on an AMD FX-8370 and a GTX 970 respectively during the course of my playthrough.
While there isn’t any way for Soleil to copy some of the more memorable tracks from the anime, they did a bang up job at crafting tracks that immerse you in Naruto’s deeply crafted world. Most tracks keep the adrenaline pumping while not being too outstanding or distracting from the fight. The sound design does a good job of capturing the feeling from the anime, with most of the sound effects being directly pulled from it. Other than that there isn’t much to say about the audio aspects of the game.
-Sample of the Soundtrack-
Easily being the strongest thing this game has going for it, Shinobi Striker’s gameplay is a satisfying though sometimes frustrating experience. It plays like a beat em up more than an actual fighting game, with most game modes having objectives other than just defeating your opponents. There are four roles to pick from for your team with each having specific bonuses or abilities to contribute to the fight. Having a good balance is vital to your victory. The non PVP modes found in the game are the same four to five AI scenarios in which you either defend a target, fight off multiple enemies, or gather items as quickly as you can. They aren’t bad by any standard but they feel more akin to an MMO mission format versus a full retail release. The giant battles you’ll commonly fight yourself in are usually easy to keep track of and combat feels light and responsive. The camera is sometimes unresponsive when it comes to tracking enemies in the middle of the fight which can be very disorienting. While I had no issues with the online connectivity or getting into lobbies, the only other big problem I encountered was the balancing in the online lobby matchmaking. Most of the time one team would have a collection of low level players while the enemy team would be stacked with the higher level ones, which leads to an unfair playing ground due to the weapons and cosmetic you earn have effects on your in game stats. Despite a few setbacks, the combat is very fun and fulfills all your multiplayer Naruto fantasies.
Here is where Shinobi Striker starts to hurt the most. The amount of stages can be counted on both hands. While they’re big, they start to become very repetitive when you play online. The “Story” can be completed in roughly 10 hours with the few post game missions unlocked taking another 5 hours or so. There really is not a lot of content to experience after you beat the game. This would be acceptable if there was more content for the multiplayer side of things but both the amount of levels and the progression systems are both lacking. The character customization on the other hand is actually quite nice with a good amount of options to choose from and the mentor system allows you to learn a good number of techniques to use in battle.
Shinobi Striker is a game with a solid foundation that just needs more of everything. The combat is great, and the customization options are plenty but a lack of game modes and unbalanced matchmaking create a sometimes frustrating experience. A lacking progression system and little to no post game content bring down what could have been a great game. Hopefully, it will receive the polish and content it needs post launch but as of now it isn’t worth full price.