Naruto is often hailed as one of the greatest Shonen anime and manga to have come out in the past decade. With great world building, interesting character dynamics and motivations, as well as incredible and memorable fight scenes all throughout the series run, series creator Masashi Kishimoto made sure everyone wanted to be a ninja. There has been many Naruto games ever since, and Naruto To Boruto: Shinobi Striker is the first game that hones in on everyone’s dream of being a ninja.
Mark Of A Ninja
When it comes to great Naruto games, the Ultimate Ninja games come to mind. With tight controls, every major character being playable, and an accurate retelling of the major arcs of the manga and anime, there really was no topping the 4 Ultimate Ninja games. With Shinobi Striker, Bandai Namco sought to fill the need that the Ultimate Ninja games couldn’t fill.
You start the game off by creating your own ninja which could be from one of the five hidden ninja villages. From there, you alter the look, height, weight, gender, and voice of your chosen ninja after which you then start your journey in the Hidden Leaf Village. So despite being able to choose between being a ninja from either of the five villages, the game’s hub is still the Hidden Leaf. Sure, that’s where the series takes place, but it would have been nice to see the other villages get their due diligence.
From there, you’ll get your ninja training on by Konohamaru, who teaches you the basics of being a ninja; Kakashi, who teaches you how to take on missions; Tenten, who sells you ninja equipment, and Sakura, who teaches you how to change your equipment. The game takes place during the Boruto series, which means all your favourite Naruto characters are adults and Naruto himself is the Hokage.
The Ninja Way
The game takes a page from hero shooters and MOBAs by introducing player roles into the mix, with your character being able to choose between 4 classes: Attack, Range, Defence, and Healer. Attack focuses on close-range attacks with their fists, Range uses long range jutsus and daggers, Defence uses huge swords ala Zabuza and cast defensive jutsus, and Healers can heal and do minor damage. For the most part, the different classes just determines the different jutsus and weapons you’ll be using, but the fact that you can freely switch between the classes means you basically have four loadouts with different skills ready to go at all times. And if you’re not into that, you can just pick an already established Naruto character to use instead of your own.
So the gameplay revolves around you taking missions either to raise your ninja rank, or to play with your friends, earn rewards and what not. There isn’t a story per se, more of your character just raising through the ranks and becoming stronger. Most missions will have you fight either waves of enemies, collecting a certain number of items, or defeating a large boss like Kurama The Nine-Tailed Fox. While the game takes place after the Naruto series, it’s explained that you are fighting data recreations of past villains through VR. Honestly, the battles can get pretty cheap, with boss characters spamming their attacks constantly and mobs having unblockable attacks. You’re going to need an iron will to withstand some of these battles.
There is a lootbox element to it all, as you complete missions you’ll earn scrolls. Tenten can appraise the scrolls at the shop and you have a chance at getting better gear from them. So there isn’t a way to surely get the items you want, like by paying with real cash or anything, but you do have to grind for scrolls if you want better gear.
The game is completely online by the way, so if you don’t have a Playstation Plus or Xbox Live Gold membership, you can’t play the game. There is no offline component nor is there a local multiplayer in the game, which is sad since couch battles between friends is what made the Ultimate Ninja series great and it's a shame the same couldn’t be made with the coop gameplay of Shinobi Striker.
With all this talk of an online anime game with you being able to make your own character, it does sound an awful lot like Dragon Ball Xenoverse doesn’t it? Well, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Xenoverse makes you live out your Dragon Ball dreams and more. It took the established Tenkaichi Budokai 3D fighting gameplay and adapted it to include online multiplayer and a character creator. If you’re thinking that Shinobi Striker will do the same with Ultimate Ninja’s gameplay, you couldn’t be further away from the truth.
Overall, Shinobi Striker isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s mindless and repetitive , and your personal ninja won’t really stand out. Battles are cheap, and features are lackluster, and while it really had potential but doesn’t live up to it, kinda like Boruto as a character. Keep up with Gamehubs on Facebook and Twitter to be up to date on all things gaming.