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Game Review #512: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road to Boruto (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Robert Krause

Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Category: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Role Playing

Release Date: 4.24.2020

Price: $49.99

Watch the Trailer

Buy Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road to Boruto from the Nintendo eShop here.

An Adventure Worthy of Being the Next Hokage

Adapting a popular title from one medium to another is rarely ever successful and usually results in fans of the original medium viewing the new one as nothing more than a cash-in. Video game movies and movies being made into video games are probably the biggest culprit of this. In November 2008 Bandai Namco took a similar risk in adapting one of the most popular and loved anime of all time, Naruto Shippuden, when they released Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm, their successor to Naruto Ultimate Ninja series. Since then they have released 5 critically acclaimed 3D action fighters across several systems. The success of the Ultimate Ninja Storm franchise has spawned numerous other anime licensed games using the same formula.

Creating a successful cross-genre series is one thing but keeping the sequels exciting and engaging is a major hurdle that Bandai Namco has seemingly found the key to. Each new game explores in-depth the story of Naruto Uzumaki from various points in his journey to becoming the world's greatest hokage, leader of his ninja village. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4's Story Mode lets you play through major moments at the end of the Shippuden series and the 4th great ninja war leading up to the story of his son Boruto. Keeping this installment’s story fresh, you don’t just play through the story from the side of Naruto, but also his rival Sasuke Uchiha to reveal both sides of the storyline with a timeline view you can choose your route through. Following an anime that had 500 episodes that spanned 10 years, playing through these games is a good refresher if you don’t have time to binge it all again. The 3D fighter gameplay is fast and intense, with the main focus on dodging attacks while you prepare your ninjutsu attacks or ultimate attacks which feature jaw-dropping animation when you pull them off. Just keep in mind you want to be dodging or you’ll fall victim to one of these attacks quicker than you can say Leaf Village Secret Finger Jutsu: One Thousand Years of Death.

Adventures in Shinobi World

After finishing up Story Mode so you don’t spoil anything there are two other gameplay options, Adventure and Boruto’s Tale. Adventure Mode lets you explore with Naruto while collecting items, doing side quests from villagers and fighting. Following the Trail of the Gale you travel to different locations on the World Map with Naruto, Hinata and Sakura. Completing these unlocks more side quests that award you Ryo and ninja items used in the Bandai store to unlock collectibles and outfits. This Switch version Road to Boruto includes previously released DLC that adds on to this mode with Adventures for Shikamaru Nara and Gaara of the Sand. Gameplay for both is similar to Naruto’s with different storylines to follow. The added DLC for this version is a great bonus for an already packed game that has hours of gameplay value.

The Legend Continues

Boruto’s Tale introduces the new story of Naruto’s son. This mode plays like a mix of Story Mode and Adventure Mode as you have some free reign to move about the village but has fully voiced cut scenes like Story Mode. With the mode being based off of one movie and not 500 episodes it’s much more compact and doesn’t take as long, but serves as a decent introduction to the new series if you want to jump into it. It also provides some good nostalgia running into characters you know and love as older adults.

Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go

Along with the story focused modes you get the usual battle options. There's Online Battle where you can test those thumbs in a battle of dodging until your opponent makes a mistake. You’ll get daily rewards for logging in, cards to collect, etc. There are also limited time events that occur to provide goals during online play. Free Battle lets you test your skills in Survival or Tournament modes, VS Battles and Leagues or just practice your style and customize your characters. With 100 playable fighters and numerous items to collect for each Bandai definitely went out of their way to provide gameplay hours in this series finale.

Style Jutsu

Being based on a beloved anime you really can’t try to skimp out on your art style and voice actors. It’s the easiest way to fail in a cross-medium attempt. Luckily Bandai knew this from the start and all of their games have looked great with good soundtracks and voice actors from the anime. This installment is no different and unlike some games ported to Switch in final editions, this one still holds up with no noticeable FPS issues or blurring. Being in battle and hearing the combat songs from the series gives an nice adrenaline boost along with some goose bumps.

Wrap Up

Bandai Namco continues its great run that pioneered this style of anime games. Their finale to the Naruto series has everything you would want aside from placing the whole series in one game which would probably end up being a 100gb download. I enjoyed taking my time playing through all the modes and forgot more than once I was supposed to be writing a review and not taking notes or screen shots. If you're a Naruto fan or any kind of Shonen anime fan, this series - especially the main numbered titles - are a must have.

Score 9/10

Buy Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road to Boruto from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*A game key was provided for review purposes

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