NARUTO SHIPPUDEN™: Ultimate Ninja® STORM 4 ROAD TO BORUTO Review – Switch

The latest in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series spanning over a decade finally hits the Nintendo Switch. Joining the other games in the series on the Switch, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN™: Ultimate Ninja® STORM 4 ROAD TO BORUTO brings a continuation and conclusion of the Naruto story and with the Road to Boruto expansion included in the base package, the story continues onwards into the story of Boruto (Naruto’s interestingly named son) and his adventures in the Ninja world. 

The Ultimate Ninja Storm games have a tried and tested formula spanning across 4 mainline entries and countless spinoffs. The Ultimate Ninja series began on Playstation 2 with the orignal release in 2003, back then the gameplay was in a 2.5D perspective, so as a longtime fan it’s incredible to see how far it’s come with the 3D arena based gameplay of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. The controls are also simple to boot, amidst the cinematic camera angles and bombastic super animations most of the action is limited to a few key buttons and so no complex combos or inputs will test your memory.  

In the 3D arena style combat, attacks can come from all angles.

In previous games, the simplicity of the controls had earned the Ultimate Ninja Storm games criticism as being too simplistic to really be taken seriously and though that criticism may still stand, I applaud the team at CyberConnect2 for always innovating the formula and adding extra depth to the combat through limitations of substitutes from Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 onwards, defined assist character roles in the 2nd and 3rd games and overall balances to the cast. In this new game, I think they’ve given their most interesting change yet, the ability to swap between your two other assist characters at will. When fighting with a character that maybe prefers to play a more zoning based play style, you can swap to a closer range brawler like Neji or Pain when the opponent tries to pressure you.  

The ability to build on the formula of previous games is possible because the Ultimate Ninja Storm games in a sense are a culmination of almost all of the assets from other games in the franchise, because of this, the game features a bulky roster of over 60 characters each with their own super attacks, combo animations, voice lines and a multitude of costumes. The amount of content is staggering and that’s not to mention the finish cut in images that you can customise from character to character. There are special team composition dependant supers, for example, if you make a team of all the Akatsuki members, you’re rewarded with a unique super animation where the whole squad comes together to lay a lengthy beat down. The level of content and fan service is the biggest endorsement of this game, people who haven’t played any of the other games in the franchise will be in heaven with the level of possibility to recreate classic anime moments and even dream combinations and fights. 

Classic bouts and dream matches aplenty in NARUTO SHIPPUDEN™: Ultimate Ninja® STORM 4 ROAD TO BORUTO

However, an issue from this being a culmination of all the previous games assets comes in if you have already played other games in the series, particularly on the Switch as they released little over a year ago. Loyalists who have played and/or own the other Ultimate Ninja Storm games on Switch will notice and recognise half of the roster, their animations and voice lines as they’re almost entirely lifted from previous entries. The game play is refined of course and it’s great to have it all in one bursting package, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that all of this couldn’t have just been a DLC package for Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 for example.  
Even though this is an issue that all of the games have carried in some manner, one definitive thing that has set all of these games apart is the story mode. Each one has been similar in presentation although unique in the arc of the Naruto story they tell and generally they all move and advance the story forward. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 streamlines the story mode somewhat and doesn’t feature the exploration segments other games had and instead features a gauntlet of cinematic fights with scenes from the anime interspersed between the climatic battles to progress the story. The fights against the AI opponents often feature quick time events that accompany large action set pieces from the anime that would be harder to represent in regular game play. On top of all that, the story mode also includes large fights between large summons and mob fights where in a Dynasty Warriors style it’s all about defeating a large horde of respawning enemies and being graded at the end for how many you defeat. Overall the action of the story mode is quite good, there’s a nice variety in the game types you play and they all feature an over the top action packed flavour that keeps you from getting bored. Unfortunately, the AI for these battles isn’t particularly the strongest and though they may be a bit tough for beginner players, longtime fans will beat all of these quickly and easily. Without any form of difficulty setting in the story, you’re left at the mercy of the games seemingly arbitrary and unclear ranking system to provide any real challenge. 

Clash of titans in the games story mode as epic conflicts from the anime are realised on a grand scale.

 Between these action moments the static images which convey the plot are fine, but, it’s not exactly the best way to portray the plot between the action and some of the voice acting and direction also leave quite a bit to be desired. However, the story mode for me serves as a great summary of the latter portion of the Naruto Shippuden story and it’s used quite well.  

Fans of how the story was told in previous entries might feel a bit put out by the lack of an open world version of Konoha to explore, although, that returns here as part of it’s own separate adventure mode. Set after the end of the main story campaign you play as Naruto and friends and in this mode you can explore Konoha, relive classic moments from the series and interact with other key characters. The mode is almost entirely optional and is just some more bang for your buck if the central story mode felt lacking.  

Tale of Boruto adds a lengthy 5-6 hours of gameplay to the already lengthy single player offerings

New to this entry is the Road to Boruto content, based on the movie Road to Boruto that released after the original series ended, it follows Naruto’s son Boruto and his adventures as a Ninja. Boruto has an interesting character arc and wants to live up to the expectations set by his father. In Road to Boruto the game closer resembles the story content of previous games with free roam adventure game play mixed with action scenes. This is likely done to pad out the length of the added content, but in my opinion the ability to explore a more modern Konoha and see the growth of series faves was appreciated.  

On the Nintendo Switch, the game runs really well at a solid 30FPS with a few exceptions. In docked mode the visuals really pop with every super attack and particle effect working very well. However, large scale battles in the story mode do seem to chug the frame rate a bit although I seem to recall this being the case across all versions of the game I’ve played. Also in the story mode the still images used to progress the plot are curiously grainy and of a lower overall image quality. In tabletop mode again the combat runs like a dream with some slight issues arising with the game not making any compensation for the smaller screen, the camera will still zoom far out and all the HUD elements are extremely tiny as it’s just a 1-1 translation from your larger docked monitor and the screen of the Switch console. Also in tabletop mode I ran into a fair few issues with the frame rate in the games adventure mode and all other modes that have a large number of NPC’s on screen. The game would almost slow to a crawl and so for these modes I would wholly recommend that these be completed at home in docked mode. 

Control during large scale battles tend to feel a bit sluggish, however I’m not sure if this is by design.

For the price of entry of around £45.99 I think Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is great value for money. It’s full to the brim with content and being able to have the conclusion of the Naruto story to experience at any time on the go is a real treat. Multiplayer games are great and work very well with the refined combat system and plethora of playable characters and the online runs very smooth for the most part and at the time of writing there were still a good number of people online for ranked games.  

The only people I wouldn’t recommend pick up this game are absolute newcomers to Naruto as a franchise because the single player story mode picks up late into the story (effectively at the conclusion) and doesn’t make a good enough effort to catch anyone up (to those people I would probably recommend one of the other entries available on Switch) and maybe people who own all of the games because they may not be as enamoured with everything here as it really is a lot of carry overs of previous entries. But if you’re looking for a good time with the refined multiplayer combat and the huge roster of characters or if you’re a fan of the Naruto series and haven’t played any of the Ultimate Ninja Storm games, then NARUTO SHIPPUDEN™: Ultimate Ninja® STORM 4 ROAD TO BORUTO is a no brainer.  

A huge thank you to Bandai Namco for providing the review code. NARUTO SHIPPUDEN™: Ultimate Ninja® STORM 4 ROAD TO BORUTO is available now on the Nintendo eShop for £44.99/€49.99/$49.99.

Give us your view on this article..

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Categories

  • Tags

%d bloggers like this: