Naruto has started to feel like a never-ending anime after the start of Boruto story arc. There is no end to the Naruto universe in sight, and this applies to the games as well. Naruto to Boruto is, unfortunately, a rather mediocre albeit a highly ambitious attempt to create a multiplayer focused game that is set in the world of Naruto with its multitude of ninja factions. The game presents many customization options for the characters ranging from tweaking their attacks to appearance and skills.
I have enjoyed almost every Naruto game that was released under CyberConnect2. They know how to take the craziness of the anime series and present it in a fun playable form. The highlight of these games was the wild story battles and epic set pieces that provided the fans a chance to experience them in real-time gameplay. This is not the case here for Boruto to Naruto, which starts from scratch and uses an entirely new game engine, which normally means the gameplay is also completely different.
In Boruto to Naruto: Shinobi Striker, you start with an inexperienced ninja that is created as an avatar for the player. You can pick any of the ninja factions that are present in the game like the hidden leaf village or the hidden sand village. The appearance of the Ninja is different depending on what you pick, but there are also customization options available that allow you to subtly alter their look. You will unlock more customization by performing various tasks later down the line in the game.
The primary goal of your character is to gain enough experience to level up to the rank of Chuunin. This means you will start from the bottom of the ninja ranking and have to complete the various mission to upgrade your rank. These missions are offered in a VR Tutorial room, which feels out of place in this world. I don’t think this concept works that well for a Naruto game, but if we can disregard it, this is the only way to handle any task in the single-player mode. The missions that you can take are so boring that it is a constant struggle to play through them. The lack of a proper story mode severely hurts their appeal. The saving grace here is these can be attempted in multiplayer so if you have friends for co-op, it is more effortless to experience them rather than attempting it all in solo. You can also join random people online, but they usually don’t coordinate that well for missions.
I don’t have any issue with the content offered here, but when the game is merely repeating some of the classic battles and scenarios from the series, what is the end goal here?It doesn’t feel fun to see the same thing being repeated in another Naruto game, even if the gameplay is fun and satisfying for the most part. The gameplay loop deals with having to rank up your character, so you will go through this VR Tutorial mode where missions will get unlocked after you accomplish the given objectives. In the end, you are given a rank and then get experience points which will level up your character. There is typically a scroll or two offered as a reward that can be appraised to unlock new items for your character. There are thousands of items to collect here including new equipment, but most of it feels meaningless since it is primarily for customizing the appearance of your avatar.
The gameplay is seriously fun. I think the ninja-styled combat is handled superbly with the ninjutsu moves of the Naruto universe all available in some capacity. I couldn’t help but feel like a lot of it was likely lifted from the CyberConnect2 fighting game. The basic combat works with a combination of low and heavy attacks. Substitution Jutsu is also available to use but requires a carefully timed button press during an attack so it thankfully avoids the button mashing nature of earlier Naruto games. You can use two ninjutsu moves paired to the shoulder buttons along with a special attack performed once you have gathered enough chakra. Wall running, jumping and dashing feels pretty good and the overall animation and gameplay experience is fast and fluid. There is a good mix of offensive and defensive skills so the battles feel a lot more dynamic.
The developer of Boruto to Naruto is Soleil, who apparently worked on games like Devil’s Third. I haven’t heard of them before but after playing the game, I had to give them some credit for what they have managed to pull here considering the ambitious aspect of the project. Naruto to Boruto is set in a persistent online multiplayer world in the form of the hidden leaf ninja village. There is PvP support for 4 vs. 4 players. At least four different modes offer their own ninja-inspired twist on the classic formula like the base capture, capture the flag, combat and barrier battles. Matchmaking automatically pairs you with other players online while providing the leader of the party the chance to initiate it once the required number of players are met, which in this case is eight.
It is understandable after playing the game that Bandai Namco wanted to create the Xenoverse of Naruto series, although their first attempt is unfortunately relatively shallow with potential if they can expand it in a sequel. The primary hub is significantly small so most of your time will be spent in simply doing the VR missions, appraising scrolls or customization for characters. The online multiplayer itself doesn’t offer an efficient net code in my experience. Matchmaking used to go on for a while since people kept dropping in and out of the matchmaking. The player count is rather healthy though so you won’t have an issue in finding matches quickly, at least at the time of publishing this review. Sadly as a fast-paced game, the lag can ruin matches easily, and you will observe people teleporting around the map which can feel distracting.
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Battle as a team of 4 to compete against other teams online! Graphically, SHINOBI STRIKER is also built from the ground up in a completely new graphic style. Lead your team and fight online to see who the best ninjas are!
Final Score - 6.5/10
An ambitious attempt to create a multiplayer focused ninja game in the Naruto universe. The foundation created here is solid but the content offered is just not good enough to attract the fans who have played the classic Naruto games with their story-focused campaign.