Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games have always been an excellent way to recap the story of Naruto. As the series continues to grow through Naruto Shippuden and Boruto how does Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections handle such a large story?
The simple answer is… not very well.
There are two ways to experience the story mode of Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections. History mode lets you replay battles from key moments in the Naruto and Naruto Shippuden storyline, there is also the Special Story mode that consists of an original story created by Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto.
Strangely even though the name on the box is Naruto X Boruto there's no sign of any of Boruto's canonical storyline that has been running for six years at this point.
History mode is a brief recap of the history of Naruto. Split into eight chapters, two for Naruto and six for Shippuden, you'll be speedrunning through a sequence screenshots from the anime and text and short combat sequences.
For the entirety of the story of Naruto there are about 10 battles you'll get to participate in. Whether it's Naruto's battle with Haru or the large clash with Shukaku. Each of the battles picked are the highlights of each arc, if there was one battle to pick that's going to be the one you engage in.
Adding further flash to the fights a few of these also have exaggerated QTE segments. Characters will power up and launch themselves across the arena, weaving between blows. These QTEs are a lot of fun and do well to emulate to exciting moments of the anime.
History Mode recaps the best of Naruto, if extremely briefly. the Boruto 'Special Story' however is a strange cobbled-together adventure that seems to combine modern anime tropes and a "best of" of Naruto themes.
Boruto begins to play a VRMMO with his friends that is revealed to be part of a plan to drain chakra from players and destroy the world of peace that Naruto helped create. This story introduces new Uchihas, eye powers, an Infinite Tsukuyomi on the moon, and even a new member of the Otsutsuki clan. I felt like I was watching every key plot point from the history of Naruto get shoved into a single experience.
It's an absolute mess of a story and, unfortunately, like the history mode, the battles are few and far between. Near the end, I felt more like I was watching a CGI Boruto movie than I was playing a fighting game.
What combat you do get to take part in is a lot of fun and sticks to the Ultimate Ninja Storm formula that has been working so well.
Combat is fast-paced and flashy as you fight across the arena. Starting with a chakra dash between the fighters you begin each battle within striking distance. Combat is definitely simpler than most fighting games. In Naruto X Boruto you have a melee button, a ranged attack button, jump, and a button to activate a charka aura that you can then perform special actions and dashes with.
Instead of the focus of gameplay being pulling off combos or stunning your opponents the key gameplay objective in Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is playing footsies. At any time you can have four Substitution Jutsu charges, basically a way to teleport out of any combo.
You'll be aiming to get your opponent into a situation where they have no Substitutions left so you can lock them into a combo and beat them up.
It's clear that even the AI of the game is aware that this is how the game works. I was finding quickly that enemies were spending more time jumping around away from me and trying to not get hit, but as soon as I had run out of substitutions they were chaining melee and special attacks taking off massive chunks of my health at a time.
The roster for Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is also massive. With 150+ characters from all three storylines combined and stages from key battles you'll be able to create your battle dream teams.
It's definitely not your traditional fighting game experience, and it's definitely not one that you'll see much of a competitive scene from, but it's fun and entertaining to watch. With so many moments for reversals of momentum, it can be a lot of fun to play with friends.
One additional strange element of Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections was the social aspects of the game. After completing a battle in History Mode you're prompted to react to the battle with one of five different emoticons. There are also login bonuses allowing you to obtain additional artwork collectibles or currency that can be spent on further costumes. While there's an online multiplayer the level of presence the social features had in the game was slightly offputting.
Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections Review | Final Thoughts
I've been playing the Ultimate Ninja Storm games for a long time. It's always been a fun way to recap the story of an incredibly long series highlighting the best battles letting the player be in the driver's seat.
Unfortunately, Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Story Connections manages to not pay enough homage to the classic Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, while also creating a muddied Boruto story that seems to spend far more time focusing on why Naruto is so great instead of delivering highlights of Boruto's own adventures.
Where the game shines is in its combat. While it's on the simpler side of the fighting game spectrum it's fun to watch and even more enjoyable to take part in.
If you're looking to recap or understand the Boruto storyline it's not worth picking up this title, even if you're a fan of Naruto and want a recap then titles like 2017s Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy are going to be better choices.
I'm not too sure what the aim of this game was, or who its intended audience is.
Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections was reviewed on Xbox Series X with a copy provided by the publisher over the course of 10 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Fun Combat
- History Mode is too short
- Boruto getting sidelined
- Social Elements