Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker is the brand new Naruto video game from Bandai Namco. With the Ultimate Ninja series from CyberConnect2 finished compiling the story of Naruto across a vast number of games and console generations, Shinobi Striker developer Soleil appear set on creating something different, and that they have.
Shinobi Striker is more akin to other Bandai Namco series like Dragon Ball Xenoverse where players create their own characters and carve out their own adventure. There is a somewhat stark difference though as Shinobi Striker is primarily focused on an online multiplayer experience than a single-player campaign with online functionality. This is where the majority of Shinobi Striker’s issues lie.
Upon starting the game you’ll be able to create your ninja character, the options are limited but enough to get you started. More avatar options can be unlocked as you progress in the game as well as purchased with in-game currency. Outfits and accessory are separated from the avatar options as they actually form part of a character’s loadout. There are four class types Attack, Range, Defense and Heal with each class using a different loadout.
Loadouts are formed of weapons, outfits, accessories etc… these can all be obtained from scrolls. Every time you complete a mission or online match you’ll receive scrolls as rewards, once appraised they’ll unlock and become part of your inventory. Each item comes with its own rank and special abilities, meaning some outfits will suit certain classes. Ninjutsu is unlocked by levelling up your Master’s rank, this works alongside your experience but at different rates. Each Master will have a selection of rewards you can unlock not limited to just ninjutsu.
After creating a character and working through the tutorial section of the game players are then left with only two choices, continue with missions or play PvP. The hub of operations is a very small Konoha Village and features a very basic selection of NPCs to interact with. It’s pretty simple and straightforward.
Unlocking the “story” missions can be a minor annoyance as it requires you to continually hunt down the next mission giver. Sometimes they won’t even appear when they should requiring you to restart the game or exit to the title screen and come back in. While you’re not required to complete the story missions save for the tutorial section it is how you unlock a good amount of the different Masters. Missions can be completed with others online which is a bonus and makes working through them easier. The story elements are fairly weak anyway.
PvP is the biggest draw of the game and where most players will spend their time. There’s only Quick Match and Ninja World League, a ranked mode, available at the moment. Each of these cycle through one of four match types of which only a few were in circulation at launch but has since become available. Matchmaking is decent, time can vary but doesn’t swing one way or the other too hard. Online functionality is, for the most part, an enjoyable experience, there have been a few instances where a match fails to load booting you back to matchmaking.
The dynamic 3rd person perspective coupled with vertical running and jumping in each arenas environment is far better than expectations. Combined with the combat it’s a highly thrilling experience. Combat is simple but gives you enough to work with that you won’t get bored easily. While running up walls and pretending your Spiderman is all well and good but there are only about three or four different arena locations which can make everything feel a little samey.
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker has done well to provide fans with a new Naruto experience and features some exciting mechanics that are executed really well. Ultimately, the game falls a little short in terms of content, something I would expect to see updated as time goes on. The biggest draw then is in playing online and with friends. By that token, it’s a really enjoyable game to play.
Review copy provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment