Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the first Naruto game to come out since the manga ended in November last year. But while it did end, it also didn’t truly end. There’s a new movie coming out set afterwards, and also some sort of spin-off. In the same sense there will more than likely be Naruto games in the future. But that still makes this a pretty big deal.
With that in mind it makes sense that Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the most ambitious and epic Naruto game to date. It’s a fighting game, but there so much to it that it almost seems incorrect to simply call it a “fighting game”. The most recent build I played at Bandai Namco’s Level-Up event didn’t even have a one-on-one fight in it, instead I played as Naruto’s summon Gamakichi, with assistance from the rest of Team 7’s summons (mapped to L1 and R1, they can be summoned to do a special attack after a cooldown timer), fighing through a battlefield filled with enemies of varying sizes (and thus strength), a counter racking up my defeated enemies at well over 6000 (no, not that meme, you won’t find that here).
The controls took a little bit of getting used to (realising that [Button 1] + [Button 2] meant one after another, not at once, as I was claw-handing Triangle and X before like some kind of pro gamer), but once you get the hang of them they’re very easy to use and the feel very responsive. I was able to dance and hop around enemies with ease, throwing down special moves aplenty, which were divided between a long range move and and up close move. After I had made my way through the battlefield I was thrown into a mini game where I had to surf along some kind of big arms while avoiding fireballs, and then there were some QTEs. It was spectacular. As in, very much a spectacle. Some aspects almost sound clunky, but they really weren’t. It had a great pace to it.
I also played a second, older build which featured a fight between Hashirama (who I controlled) and Madara. It was good to get a sense of how the one on one combat has evolved in NUNS4 (well, NSUNS4, but I wanted to write “Nuns”), and I have to say it’s really very good, and is definitely the one that feels the best yet (though its predecessors were also pretty good). The controls were mostly the same as the summon controls, but instead of just being able to block you can so Substitution jitsu. On top of that all the moves and controls are a lot faster given the smaller size, as you would expect.
Madara did seem to have an over-reliance on repeating the same special move that flung me across the arena and forced me to do a QTE, which could get annoying if this is something that happens in every fight, but it could just be the cinematic nature of this one fight in particular. After doing a certain amount of damage to Madara I was able to break his Armour and Weapons, which I assume makes him weaker, but it was all so fast paced I didn’t particularly notice if it did or not, but it felt pretty good.
This is the first Naruto game to come out for the PS4, and it’s clear it has allowed them to do a lot more. Not only can they clearly put more on the screen at once, from the enemies in the first part I played to more battle effects, It’s super smooth and fluid — which seems to be the hallmark of many PS4 games at the moment. And it looks incredible too. Any screenshot from the game almost looks like its been taken right from the anime, really capturing the feel of the source material. “Toon shading” is at an all time high on next generation hardware, and Bandai Namco are coming at it hard.
This looks set to please any Naruto fans, and to be the most complete Naruto game to date. It looks like it will be a wonderful way to send off the manga, and to extend its life beyond its original ending, and into a future of extended media and spin-offs, of which this game may very well reign supreme. It will be released in 5th February 2016.