Boruto to Naruto: Shinobi Striker (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 11.09.2018

Review for Boruto to Naruto: Shinobi Striker on PlayStation 4

Naruto has already received numerous adaptations over the years and a wide range of games at that. From action titles way back on the Game Boy Advance up to the CyberConnect2's masterwork in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, which has only just received a re-release collection on Nintendo Switch. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 adapted the conclusion of the original story of Naruto, giving an arguably superior adaptation to the manga than the anime, delivering some huge and dramatic set pieces. It's a big act to follow. Step up Soleil Ltd, which is not trying to outdo its predecessor and instead taking on the follow-up and spin-off, following the next generation of Ninja and starring Naruto's son, Boruto.

Right away, there's a strange little annoyance upon beginning the game. Hitting start gives the opportunity to craft an avatar to use throughout and annoyingly returning to the main menu and selecting "New Game" once again does not give an option of choosing a different slot for the new creation. There's one avatar and one save file here and selecting new forces the deletion of the current character to start again. It's a poor design choice… not allowing for multiple players to have their own slots and avatars, or even twinks to be set up. Regardless of this disappointing limitation, getting back to the character creator it offers up a few recognisable elements to craft the "original" character, all of which are obviously borrowed from established characters. For hairstyles, there is Chouji's wild mane, Shikamaru's ponytail, and even Rock Lee's distinct bowl cut. Face paint includes Kiba's red fangs and Naruto's whiskers.

After assembling an avatar, the world is introduced. Konoha has been transformed into an old-school, online multiplayer hub. It will be familiar to anyone who has played any of the Dragon Ball Xenoverse titles or even a Phantasy Star] or Monster Hunter. A small square with key buildings dedicated to vital aspects of the game; running around it are other players, showing off the cool gear they have unlocked through repeated play, and there's the usual system of emotes in place of text chat.

Screenshot for Boruto to Naruto: Shinobi Striker on PlayStation 4

Standing alongside the other players are NPCs in the form of various characters from the series' history. Tenten runs the Ninja Tools shop where items can be purchased, Sasuke mans the library where VR Masters can be unlocked and equipped, and Sakura is in charge of the Inn where avatars can be customised. A little warning when it comes to the NPCs scattered around the hub - they are awful. Interacting with the NPCs is horribly stilted, in every way. The characters feel like something out of the PlayStation 2 era, with wooden poses, dead doll eyes constantly shifting, and some horrible voice acting. It's strange considering the cel-shading over most elements looks great. Not Ultimate Ninja Storm great, but better than many anime adaptations out there.

The first step in arriving into Konoha is spending some time with its namesake, Konohamaru Sarutobi. This grandson to the third Hokage was mostly seen as an annoying little brat pestering Naruto, but now years older he's taking on Kakashi's role in training the next generation, heading up the new team of the children of Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and Orochimaru. Konohamaru guides these kids and also acts as the guide into the gameplay.

The first place Konohamaru guides the player is the VR Ninjutsu Arena, which holds the plot device - quite literally - that the game relies on to allow the player to take on some of the fan-favourite characters from across the series' history. Like the way the Dragon Ball games have relied on "Time Travel" and the like to keep all of the biggest battles of the series history part of games set years later, this device allows Ninja to go back and experience key moments from history. A simple, but adequate, plot device. It's also the heart of all of the single-player content, of which there isn't a great deal. Here there are a series of missions of varying difficulty that reward special items, currency, and "scrolls," which can be opened to unlock equipment.

Screenshot for Boruto to Naruto: Shinobi Striker on PlayStation 4

The missions do indeed replay key scenes from the long history of the series… somewhat. There are plenty of random battles mixed in; snatching the bells away from Kakashi, taking on Deidara and his explosive art, and the big destruction of the leaf event. The missions are fun, but get repetitive quickly thanks to the constant reuse of assets. The worst part of the VR Missions, though, is that there's no real story or structure running through them. It seems they have all been completed, then a random NPC in the hub will spawn that will give new missions, but with no sort of guidance, and occasionally the NPC will just bug out and vanish… Best grab a guide on how to unlock them all.

For the solo players out there, these VR Missions are the majority of the solo gameplay, but there's not a large amount of content here. Shinobi Striker is very much focused on its online multiplayer side. That multiplayer system is all based around the Ninja World League. By heading up to the Hokage's Estate and speaking with Shikamaru, the world of online battles is opened up. Here there is the option of taking part in a Quick Match or the ranked matches of the Ninja World League. The matchmaking for both seems completely unbalanced at the moment and will be completely off-putting for the new players, as they are set up against much higher levelled and better-equipped foes. Even worse, there's no penalty for dropouts.

The online matches fall under four different types: Flag Battles, Base Battles, Combat Battles, and Barrier Battles. Flag, Base, and Combat battles are pretty self-explanatory. Barrier battles sets one team to defending two seals that hold a barrier around a boss character - for example, Gamakichi - while the opposing team has to destroy the seals and the boss.

Screenshot for Boruto to Naruto: Shinobi Striker on PlayStation 4

Whichever type of battle is played, the combat itself is fast and frantic and a heck of a lot of fun. There's wall running, double jumping, even hookshot style kunai to latch onto environments and zip over to them. While the Ultimate Ninja Storm series focused on serious 3D fighter combat, using tag battles, juggles, and the like, Shinobi Striker instead focuses on tornado tag style insanity - four-on-four, all out, crazy ninja battles. The combat system gives basic quick attacks and heavy attacks, along with blocks, counters, and substitution jutsu, but the fun comes in with the NInjutsu, unlockable attacks, two of which can be equipped at a time with a variety of uses. This, combined with different equipment and ninja tools, lets the player craft just exactly how they want to play.

These unlockable abilities really make the game more enjoyable, especially to fans of the series. Being rewarded with scrolls and taking them to TenTen to have iconic moves and outfit pieces unlocked. It's one of the best parts and really incentivises playing more and more. For the VR Missions, for example, a "VR Master" can be set up. Chosen from a handful of the popular characters from the original story, this character will then join in the VR Missions and gain experience in doing so. This experience levels up the master and, at set stages, it unlocks special moves and customisation parts for that particular master. Do enough missions with Naruto to get Rasengan, with Sasuke to get Chidori, and so on.

Screenshot for Boruto to Naruto: Shinobi Striker on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Much like how Boruto has failed to live up to its progenitor, Boruto to Naruto: Shinobi Striker cannot live up to the Ultimate Ninja Storm games. Like most of its type, it gives a huge advantage to those who can play with friends, a guild, or a clan, but even with this, the broken matchmaking leads to crushing defeats on a regular basis. This, combined with the constant delays thanks to unskippable results screens and huge load times, really puts a dampener on the whole experience. It's a shame because there are a lot of good elements here, plus a crazy and addictive combat system. It, sadly, just all feels rather unfinished.

Developer

Soleil Ltd

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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