The Naruto franchise has captured the hearts of anime fans for over 15 years with its epic ninja battles and emotional storytelling. Developer CyberConnect2 has faithfully brought the world of Naruto to life in video game form through the Ultimate Ninja Storm series for just as long. Their partnership has spawned seven well-received arena fighters that compile the sprawling narrative into accessible, flashy free-for-alls.
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections represents the next chapter in this enduring legacy. As the name implies, it chronicles the saga from Naruto’s beginnings to the present day starring his son Boruto. This newest installment packs in a staggering roster of 130 playable characters from across generations. It also provides current-gen polish for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
At first glance, Connections appears to be the definitive Naruto video game celebration. However, with so many Storm games under its belt already, does this latest entry ninja sprint or limp its way into relevance? We will analyze if Connections uphold the Will of Fire or if it is outclassed by past generations. For Naruto lovers and casual fans alike, is this a worthy purchase or a swing and a miss? Let’s dive in to see if this familiar Storm still has the power to blow us away.
A Visual Spectacle True to the Anime
It’s clear from the moment you boot it up that Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is a visual treat, especially for fans of the anime. CyberConnect2’s graphic style and attention to detail in bringing the world of Naruto to life has always been top-notch. This latest entry only further cements their expertise in creating a pixel-perfect representation of the show’s aesthetic and fluid, over-the-top action.
The game’s roster certainly contributes to this appeal. With a whopping 130 playable characters from across the Naruto lore to choose from, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fan-favorite or obscure face that didn’t make the cut. It’s like looking through the ultimate Naruto yearbook flipping through all the fighters. Better yet, the graphics have been polished and upgraded to take advantage of current-gen consoles. So whether you’re using young Naruto or aged-up mentor Kakashi, their character models and animations are sure to impress.
Of course, the stages themselves also remain visually accurate to their anime counterparts. Iconic locations like the Forest of Death and the Final Valley stretch across your screen in vibrant detail. Dynamic camera angles pan and track the frantic fights, lending cinematic flair to the battles. Debris, craters, and destruction pile up in the environment as you unleash explosive jutsus back and forth.
CyberConnect2’s cinematic craft especially shines through in the game’s Special Story mode. While the original tale may be hit-or-miss, the fully animated cutscenes interspersed throughout it are stunning. Fluid camera movement and expressive character animation worthy of the anime perfectly showcase the developer’s technical capabilities. Whether it be Naruto and Sasuke’s dramatic duel in the intro or emotive scenes between Boruto and his mysterious guide, fans are sure to geek out over these gorgeous cinematics.
So if nothing else, Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is a visual masterclass in anime authenticity thanks to its huge roster of fighters lovingly translated into the game and dynamic backdrops recreated straight from the source material. CyberConnect2 continues to set the graphical standard for anime arena fighters. This Storm may feel overly familiar, but it’s never looked better doing so.
Refined Arena Combat with a Comfortably Familiar Feel
The moment-to-moment fighting in Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections will feel intimately familiar to series veterans. The 3 vs 3 tag-team arena brawls the series is known for return in full form. Matches are face-paced tests of positioning and resource management between ninjas unleashing screen-filling super attacks. While the core combat lacks major innovation, it remains fun and easily enjoyable for Naruto fans.
Each battle quickly becomes a game of spacing your fighter advantageously while exchanging ranged attacks and well-timed substitutions. Once an opening presents itself, you’ll close the gap and unleash combos mixing up regular attacks, powered-up blows, launchers, and more. Connections smooths out some previous gripes like fixed substitution stock and long combo end lag. Support characters now regenerate health between rounds as well, adding more tactical considerations.
Smart chakra management underpins everything. The mystical energy fuels your roster’s flashy ninjutsu and allows for tactical enhancements like damage boosts. Each fighter also gains two unique special moves adding diversity to the simple attack options. Coordinating Double and Team Ultimate Jutsu with allied support characters can quickly turn the tide too.
For those seeking greater accessibility, a Simple Control scheme is now available. It automates movement, combos, and other actions so players can focus on positioning and higher-level strategy. But seasoned players will still want to utilize the conventional controls for full mastery.
The huge cast ensures you’ll never run out of wild movesets and abilities to try. Want to overwhelm foes as the Seventh Hokage Naruto? Go for it. Prefer zoning and elemental attacks as Temari or Gaara? They’ve got you covered too. While some similarities exist across the roster, effectively utilizing each fighter’s strengths and weaknesses takes practice.
Connections doesn’t drastically alter the straightforward but fun template Storm games follow. But through small tweaks and an expanded character roster, it polishes Ultimate Ninja’s arena combat to a refined sheen. The learning curve remains approachable for casual fans, but with enough nuance for vets to dig into. Combined with the diversity of building your dream 3 person squad, it’s easy to keep enjoying Connections’ refined combat system. It may not convert players seeking more technical fighting games, but satisfies the anime arena niche the series occupies.
Quantity Over Quality in Extra Modes
For a game subtitled “Connections,” Ultimate Ninja Storm certainly falls short in meaningfully connecting players to Naruto’s journey. The additional modes beyond standard versus fare provide plenty of content, but lack the creative flair to truly enhance the experience.
The History mode seems like the perfect opportunity to revisit Naruto’s epic saga. Unfortunately, it takes a barebones approach of using static images from the anime with only occasional fights bringing key events to life. The limited voice-over narration also feels disconnected, making this feel more like a Naruto lore recap than an engaging retrospective.
Likewise, the original story in Special Story mode starts off with promise thanks to its fully animated cutscenes. But it quickly devolves into a mess of filler-like episodes devoid of weight or purpose. The plot centers around an intriguing VR game that ties into Naruto lore and politics in clever ways. But this virtual dimension receives way too much focus over actual character development or meaningful stakes.
On the plus side, taking your skills online includes plenty of welcome features that previous Storm games lacked. Improved matchmaking, profile leveling, griefing prevention, and more make online battles less of a hassle. Connections also introduces more extensive customization between alternate costumes, accessories, and color options to unlock. Completionists will appreciate having bountiful goals to work towards.
Still, it’s hard not to feel disappointed by the single-player offerings surrounding the well-executed core gameplay. The story modes ooze untapped potential, especially for a crossover title like “Connections.” Despite CyberConnect2’s talented cinematics and world-building, extra content often comes across as passionless padding. Quantity over quality remains the prevailing issue. For a series renowned for its storytelling, weak narrative representation hampers this package.
A Hollow Ninja Story Experience
For a fighting game series based on one of anime’s most epic and expansive stories, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections drops the ball when it comes to meaningful single player content. While the gameplay maintains the distinctive Storm style, the narrative and campaign structure fail to capture the spirit of the source material.
The History Mode seems like the perfect opportunity to revisit Naruto’s journey in an interactive way. But it takes a disjointed, abridged approach to retelling the story through static images and occasional fights. Without proper context or exploration like previous Storm games, it feels more like checking plot boxes than immersing players in the shinobi world.
The original Special Story mode fares no better. It introduces an intriguing concept with Boruto and friends entering a VR game connected to a real ninja conspiracy. But it soon devolves into a mess of repetitive filler episodes devoid of purpose. For a series defined by its long-running storytelling, it’s a shame the single player options lack heart or substance.
Past Ultimate Ninja Storm titles incorporated RPG-inspired exploration and side missions to flesh out the world between major battles. Ninja Storm 4 even let you freely run around Konoha Village itself. This made the world feel alive and rewarded players for engaging with the lore. By comparison, Connections feels stale and detached, simply presenting condensed story highlights rather than letting you be part of the adventure.
Without the narrative connective tissue or chance to inhabit the shinobi world, the fights also lose impact. They come across as hollow spectacles rather than culmination of plot threads and character journeys fans are invested in. For all its visual polish, Connections lacks the heart and campaign substance to satisfy Naruto devotees for long. With shallow story modes, it fails to fully capture what makes the anime special.
Functional But Uninspired Trip Down Ninja Memory Lane
After analyzing its components, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections leaves a functional but conflicted impression. On one hand, it delivers the excellent graphics, mammoth roster, and satisfying combat system fans expect. CyberConnect2’s visual storytelling and combat Execution meet their usual high bar. On paper, this has the ingredients to be the definitive Naruto arena fighter.
However, in practice, it often feels more like reminiscing great memories with an old friend than forging new ones together. The nostalgic trip is comforting, but missing the spark that originally attracted you. Veterans will appreciate quality of life tweaks but find the familiar formula growing stale. And the limited attempt at meaningful new single player content disappoints.
Make no mistake, Connections excels at evoking surface-level Naruto coolness. Who wouldn’t geek out seeing their favorite sensei’s ultimate attacks with polished graphics? But beyond the memberberries, it lacks heart and narrative purpose. For a crossover celebrating the bonds between characters, it often feels a hollow presentation. A trip down memory lane rather than a meaningful step forward.
None of this ruins the satisfying combat, vast customization, and basic enjoyment to be had with friends. But it rings hollow next to the story modes and world-building of earlier Storm titles. Connections follows the template competently but uninspired. It can still appeal to new players or competitive-focused fans. Yet for devoted Naruto followers seeking a single player journey, it’s a missed opportunity.
At the end of the day, how much you enjoy Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections depends on context. As a functional fighting game focusing on mechanics, it hits its marks. The roster, combat, and multiplayer options make battles fun with fellow fans. But as a Naruto story experience or nostalgic celebration of the series, it lacks purpose. Storm veterans may be left wanting more, but casual audiences get their fast-paced anime fix.
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections
Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is a functional but creatively safe entry in the acclaimed anime fighting series. It checks all the boxes in terms of roster, visuals, and satisfying arena combat for which the franchise is known. However, uninspired attempts at single player content make this feel more like an expansion pack than a bold new chapter. Fans will find some nostalgic enjoyment in revisiting the refined gameplay and crossover premise. But as a comprehensive Naruto celebration, Connections lacks purpose and heart compared to past Storm titles.
- Large roster with 130 playable characters from across the Naruto franchise
- Refined and satisfying 3 vs 3 arena fighting gameplay
- Excellent graphics and animation that faithfully recreate the anime
- Polished cutscenes and set pieces showcase spectacle
- Simple controls allow easy access for casual players
- Tons of customization unlocks and collectibles
- Core combat system lacks innovation or meaningful changes
- History mode presents story poorly through static images
- Original Special Story feels disjointed and filler-like
- Narrative elements lack purpose and heart compared to past games
- Single player content is weak overall compared to previous Storm titles