Review by The Angry Tracksuit Cat Gamer, Carl Snyman

With its bright and beautiful art design straight out of the hit Anime series, Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations delivers instantly recognizable characters to fans of the series. It has no small roster either with over 70 playable characters, although many are simply alternate versions of the same character – such as 4 different iterations of Naruto and Sasuke. Still, fans will be pleased to find that just about all the characters that had any substantial screen time in the Anime series make an appearance.

Getting stuck into the game, players will uncover a very easy and basic fighting system to acquaint themselves with. It's not rocket science and compared to the heavy competitive tournament games out there like Street Fighter 4 and Tekken 6, it may seem tame and too shallow for those hardcore players. That’s not to say it’s not fun because Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations can still deliver some very entertaining, quick and flashy fights which are sure to keep fans excited, especially when they see a character perform a signature move straight out of the Anime series. The ease in which one can pick up and play the game is encouraging to players who may not be experts at fighting games and simply want a game that they can pop in and play with some friends.

To reiterate, the combat is indeed quite basic with the moves having only one button for striking blows, a button for throwing kunai and a block button mapped to one of the shoulder buttons. The remaining two face buttons are for dashing/jumping and Chakra control. Surprisingly, despite this simple set up, the fights can get quite hectic as hammering the attack button can launch your character into a multi-hit combo. Each character is awarded a limited amount of "Substitutions" which is basically a teleport style move (fans of the Anime will be very familiar with this concept) that instantly places you behind your opponent. These also recharge at a slow pace during the fight.

Ultimately the battle boils down to your ability to use your substitutions at the right time and keeping a very close eye on your opponent’s substitution count. There is nothing more frustrating than starting off a 10 hit combo only to have your opponent instantly appear behind you while you are left striking thin air where he used to be a millisecond ago, leaving your back open for him to start a combo against you instead. So, improving your skills is directly related to the balance between managing your substitutions and combos. Tricking your opponent into doing a substitution by pretending to start off a combo and then being ready for him to appear behind you becomes key to your success as once your opponent has run out of substitutions you are free to unleash combos without having to worry about hitting thin air after your 3rd blow.

Special moves are performed by combining the Chakra button and the Attack button which unleashes massive, flashy explosions and all kinds of other strange moves depending on the character you play as. Along with special moves, the “Awakening Mode” can easily turn the tables in your favour with your character transforming into a super version of his/herself, such as Naruto transforming into his Tailed Beast form. An Awakening can however only be triggered when your character’s health gets down to a very low amount. Unusual for a fighting game though is the ability to regain some of your health thanks to food items assigned to the directional pad which you can select at any point during the fight.

Going online, you should be prepared for the same combo-substitution fights you faced against the AI. Cards can be unlocked by playing the story mode which can then be purchased and used online for various assists such as increased defence and attack power. This can end up making fights unfair when you face off against an opponent who already has some of these cards equipped while you are still new to things. The matchmaking system seems to compensate for this, but may still throw you into the deep-end against players far above your skill level. It’s annoying but not enough to ruin the experience. If anything, it will encourage you to spend more time building up your skills. The online options range between a tournament mode and an endless battle mode. Players who are waiting for their turn can watch the current fight in spectator mode.

Back in the story mode, you are greeted with cut scenes straight out of the Anime series although most of the time you will see nothing more than still frames with a voiceover giving you a very abridged version of the story; fans of the Anime are sure to notice the gaps. You also have the option to experience the story from other character’s point of view which may also appeal to the fans. The game really looks pretty; it strives to be as accurate and faithful to the Anime series as possible, and it succeeds. All the voice work from the series is present with the option to select the original Japanese voices in case you don’t like the English voice cast. This will be good news to the hardcore fans of the Anime series who usually watch the show in its original Japanese language with subtitles.

In conclusion, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is most definitely a good game. If you are new to the world of Naruto, this may very well be a good starting point to get to know what it’s all about. Just remember that as with the Anime series it is based on, things can seem very strange and confusing at times, but if you stick with it, you are sure to enjoy it. Fans, on the other hand, will have an absolute blast and will most likely buy this game regardless of any review they read.

With so many hardcore fighting games out there, it is refreshing to come across a game that does not require you to master 100 different combinations of moves in order to compete. Instead, Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations gives you a straight forward and easy to learn move-set letting you instead focus on practicing your timing and strategy. If that is what you’ve been looking for, this is the game you want.

Review copy provided by Megarom Interactive.