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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution

The World of Shinobi

Naruto, written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto, is widely regarded as one of the most popular manga/anime currently running, if not of all time. First published in 1999, Naruto clocks in at an impressive 690 chapters and counting. It is no surprise, then, that the story has inspired a number of video games, each with numerous sequals. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution is the latest in these games, released from September 11th to the 16th of 2014, depending on region and system. Revolution is the 5th game in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, and features a wide array of playable characters throughout the expansive Naruto world.

The world of Naruto focuses on the Jinchuuriki, a group of ninja whose bodies contain the tailed beasts, nine monsters composed of pure chakraMagical Energy. The title character Naruto Uzumaki is the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi, the most powerful of the tailed beasts, a nine-tailed fox named Kurama. The majority of the manga deals with Naruto's quest to come to terms with himself, the people around him, and the Shinobi world at large. By the manga's current arc, Naruto has become one of the most famous and powerful ninja in the world.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm
Naruto lives in Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village, one of the five main Shinobi villages.

A Game Built on Combat

Like any good fighting game, Revolution's strength lies in its well-built combat system. The crux of the game consists of one-on-one battles, with each player allowed one or two additional ninja as support in battle. Each playable character has their own set of unique combos, weapons, and jutsusMagical Attacks they can use to defeat their opponents. Controls are streamlined and simple: one button to attack, one to jump and dodge around, one to throw a weapon, and one to charge chakra. By tapping the chakra button the ninja's other abilities are enhanced: a jump becomes a quick dash towards the opponent, thrown weapons become stronger, and basic attacks are replaced by a powerful jutsu. Each of these empowered abilities consumes a small amount of chakra. Most characters have a single usable jutsu, however some can unleash a more powerful version by holding down the attack button. Each character is also equipped with four ninja tools, with two uses for each, which they can use at any time during the battle. One of these tools will always be a guard break, which will cause the player the make a short dash at the opponent, and then paralyze them on contact. The other tools vary between personal buffs, debuffs thrown at the opponent, traps, and extra powerful weapons. The large range of characters, teams, and play-styles ensures plenty of replayability in the game.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm
Having been hit by a guard break, Sasuke is now vulnerable to a powerful attack from Suigetsu.

In previous Ultimate Ninja Storm games, characters had a number of special abilities they could use to turn the tide of battle. By consuming large amounts of chakra, an Ultimate Jutsu will deal massive damage to the opponent. Under certain circumstances characters can Awaken, giving them a huge attack boost and access to a new set of attacks. Meanwhile, support ninja, in addition to jumping in to attack with their own jutsu, provides additional support depending on whether they have been set to defensive, attack, or balanced. Using the support ability also fills up a Support Bar, allowing the player to use a Team Ultimate Jutsu. Revolution adds a new level of strategy by splitting up these powers three ways. Before a battle begins each player chooses whether they want to be Ultimate type, Awakening type, or Drive type, and gets access to a matching Storm Gauge. Only Ultimate types can use Ultimate Jutsu, and filling up the Storm Gauge lets them use Team Ultimate Jutsu. Likewise, Awakening and Drive types have access to their own special abilities that the other types can't use.

For Ultimate types, Revolution also introduces special Combo Ultimate Jutsus, which players can use by selecting specific teams of ninja. For example, Naruto's ultimate is a massive Rasengan attack. Having Sasuke as support, however, the ultimate becomes a combined Rasengan/Chidori barrage. Adding Sakura as a second support, and it becomes a massive three way summoning jutsu. The huge cast of playable characters and teams, multiple team types, and simple controls allow beginning players to really enjoy themselves. Meanwhile, more complicated mechanics like tool use and proper timing make the game a good fit for competitive players as well. However, that isn't to say the game is without its flaws. The Ultimate Ninja Storm series continues to struggle with proper balancing, if it tries at all. It is obvious that some characters are significantly better than others. Certain abilities, which needed tweaks from prior iterations, are never made. It won't take long to determine which characters you don't want to play as or against if you want a fun and fair fight.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution
Filling up the Storm Gauge allows Drive Types to use the new Seal Barrier ability, which temporarily disables the opponent's more powerful techniques.

A New Type of Battle

Unlike previous Ultimate Ninja Storm games, Revolution lacks a real story mode. Instead, it has Ninja Escapades: three new videos written by Kishimoto and occasionally interspersed with in-game battles. These videos add some insight into the history of the Naruto universe, such as the formation of the evil organization Akastuki and the destruction of the Uchiha clan. Another new mode is the Ninja World Tournament. In this mode, you can choose to play as any character you have unlocked. You'll be stuck with that character for the entirety of the tournament, so choose wisely. The first time you play you will be entered into the D rank tournament. Beating each rank allows you to progress to a new rank, from D to S. New ranks will feature new mechanics, such as traps, rails, and special orbs which can give you access to your ninja's Ultimate jutsu or Awakening. Ninja World Tournament mode also adds a new and exciting mechanic to the Ultimate Ninja Storm line: 4-ninja battles. Unlike standard free battle or online battle, every Tournament fight involves 4 ninja, each vying for the win. Instead of health, each participant is given 1000 Battle Orbs. Hitting an opponent steals their Orbs. Losing all of your Orbs knocks you out of the ring. To win, you must simply have the most Battle Orbs when time runs out.

After the first battle in the D Rank, the tournament administrators will inform you that you need to build a team for each upcoming battle. You will be given time to run around the Tournament Island, an area specifically created for the game, to find other ninja to be your allies. This usually takes the form of meeting up with a group of ninja and completing a task or set of tasks they set for you. For instance, to get Team 7Naruto's team to join you, you must find Naruto, Sakura, and Sai, and then beat the three of them in a battle. Orochimaru will join you after you find him a special flower. Most ally events will require battles, but not all. Once you have allied with someone, you will also unlock them for free battle mode. With Tournament teams, instead of having one ninja and one or two support, each character will participate in their own battle, with multiple battles happening per round. After each ninja fights, their Battle Orbs will be transferred over to the next participant, and the winner is the team with the most Orbs at the end of the last fight. This gives players a chance for redemption: even if you do poorly in the first fight, you still have time to make a comeback in the second or third.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution
You can also unlock characters by collecting a certain amount of total Ryo over all battles, but characters unlocked this way cannot be used as allies in the Ninja World Tournament.

Fun Battles and Nothing in Between

Ninja World Tournament is a refreshing new twist on a series whose main selling point with each iteration has been the increased character count. It's a totally new kind of battle, and requires a very different kind of strategy. Unfortunately, it brings back one of the biggest flaws in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series: a big open boring map. An important part of an open world game is making a fun map: giving the player fun tasks to do, making exploration fun, and keeping the game entertaining between the main missions or battles. Storm 2 failed at this miserably, and Generations and Storm 3 both essentially turned story mode into long cutscenes with intermittent battles. In Ninja World Tournament, the map is back, and as bad as ever. Player interactions consist of medium paced running and jumping. While there are certainly some things in the map, such as breakable objects with tools inside and ally missions, the map is just too big, and the running just a little too slow. Especially seeing as so many potential allies ask you to run around with no real sense of direction, meaning a lot of these missions are essentially holding forward on the controller and waiting. Occasionally, there will be a fight, followed by more running. The open map adds nothing of value to the game, and is essentially only there to make everything take longer.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution
Just when I ask myself, "oh my god can I run any slower," the game slows me down to a crawl.

If you're a fan of Naruto, and you're looking for a fun fighting game with a big roster and strong mechanics, Revolution is far from a bad choice. And long-time fans of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series can expect enough new content to keep them entertained for hours. But if you expected the game to fix the issues of its predecessors, you're going to be mistaken. Obvious balancing issues and shoddy map-making are just as much a part of this game as they were of any other in the series. Luckily, these issues aren't enough to break the game. You might find yourself cursing at a terribly mismatched fight, or wishing you could run faster, but overall you'll still enjoy the game.

Review Scoring System: Grading A-F
Potential Achieved83.38%

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