STAFF REVIEW of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy (Xbox One)

Monday, December 18, 2017.
by Royce Dean

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy Box art Here’s a fun but strange fact: Banging your head against a wall burns roughly 150 calories an hour. Another fun fact is that I used to be in the Cub Scouts. Cub Scouts was a grand old time filled with camping, knot tying, more camping, campfire songs, more camping, rain while camping, canoeing, team building, and more camping. Between organised activities out in the bush, the guys and I would more often than not be playing around, as boys do, in the make believe fashion. Sometimes we were soldiers, sometimes we were hunters, sometimes we were Poké was the 90’s. No matter what we were, it was a blast.

Now, I’ve always gone about my life trying to be the 'laid-back-and-behave-younger-than-you-actually-are' type of person (Editors Note: We can vouch for this). As a result, this type of playing around persisted much longer than it really should have, well into my teens and high school. Around then Naruto was becoming quite the popular show amongst the nerds, geeks, and kids with dragon shirts (and I’m not telling you which of those I was). Naruto being a popular show on its own is fine, me being an eccentric teenage-child is fine too, what’s not fine is mixing the two and accidentally making hand-sign Jutsus in front of deaf students and their sign language instructor. They say the boy became a man that day.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy is not one, but four games. I’ve been touch and go with the Naruto franchise over the many years it’s been around, but for the last several it’s been more go than touch. Being blindsided by a game collection you didn’t realize was a collection of games at all, and then being told you’re reviewing it puts a special kind of panic in your heart...Ninja panic. A panic that sneaks into your window and threatens you with honor and swords and a dragon I think. But I’m a plucky fellow, and games aren’t the boss of me. I showed this Legacy collection who the boss was. It was the collection, the collection was the boss.

The biggest criticism of these games that can be made is that they just don’t let you learn in any other way than losing ad nausem. But, not in the fun way where you know all of the controls and you made a whoopsie. No, they don’t tell you what to do and then they kick your ass, like an MMA fighter in a nursery. The only way to get better is essentially to burn 150 calories an hour if you know what I’m saying (see why I mentioned banging your head against a concrete wall earlier on).

This arena styled fighting game makes combos simple to pull off, but yet tricky to really master, as there are a lot of other tools at your disposal. Each of the face buttons can be assigned for attack, ranged attack, jump, and charge chakra (energy). Being that there is only one attack button, and said button needs to pressed multiple times in unison for most combos, the games have an overall “button mashy” feeling to them. Despite this, the Naruto Ninja Storm games quality of combat improves drastically from game to game, which is especially noticeable if you play them back to back. The first game really shows its age by feeling a little clunky at best, without the more dynamic animations and camera of the newer titles. The newer the title in this collection you choose to play the more buttery smooth everything feels, from the ever decreasing input lag to the seamless transition between attacks.

Anime games really do only have one look to them: Cel-Shaded. Naruto is no different. Like with the quality of the gameplay, the quality of the visuals improves over the course of the series. Jaggies become less and less apparent, and as stated earlier, the games take on a more dynamic feeling with added animations, visual effects, camera movements, and an overall visual fidelity. As the games progress from first to fourth, you’ll also notice smaller things improving like cloth motion, particle effects, and terrain interaction.

One of the few things that remains pretty constant through the course of this series evolution is the music, which is not to say that the tech behind the music didn’t improve much the way that visual tech did, it's more that the music in Naruto has always been really good. The Naruto series, be it the games or the show, has always had remarkably powerful music that conveys feeling well. When there is a reason to be sad, you feel it in not only what you are seeing, but what you are hearing too. When shit hits the fan, you know it via your eyes and ears. When it’s go time, when it’s on, the music picks up and you get hyped. Believe it!

The roster increases in size from game to game, as you would expect from any fighting franchise. By the time you get to the fourth, and final, game in this collection, even the notable rocks are playable characters...I am kidding of course, but that was a fun way of saying that everybody is here. Main characters, side characters, loved characters, hated characters, living characters, dead characters, and even multiple versions of some characters. What tends to happen in cases of fighting games is that similar characters end up feeling somewhat the same to one another, and Naruto is no exception. Plenty of characters are true to their proper portrayals, but there are just so many that no character is 100% unique. That kick you see is probably used by some other character somewhere in the roster. Still, each character in these massive rosters will have the attacks you expect to see from them, and they feel great.

Each of this collections games feature free battle modes that allow you to go head to head in single matches against a computer player or other human players. It isn’t until a couple games down the line that you get to online battle with other players. In the latter games, free mode is where you pull out the custom characters that you’ve made by altering base characters. Custom characters are made up of alternate costumes, special power ups, altered special abilities and more. They don’t serve much purpose beyond the free battle mode, but can be fun to tinker with.

The adventure modes, which is in every one of these games, is by far the greatest asset of all these games you'll find in the collection. Playing through the whole of the Naruto story, from the outset of the first game to the conclusion of the fourth, is worth the money for this collection alone. From meeting all of your favorite characters for the first time (again), to coping with the deaths of others (again), the story told in Naruto is one of the best in popular Anime and is replicated well in this series. The nature of the adventure modes in each title varies from game to game. The first and fourth games are 3rd person sandbox adventures between battle missions allowing you to explore the Leaf Village environments; picking up side quests and collectables as you go. The second and third games have a more fixed camera style of exploration, a la Resident Evil Style. You know, the good Resident Evil.

Collectibles are also present in each of Ninja Storm entries. These vary from posed “statues” to music to cards to voice lines depending on which of the games you are playing. Most often they are collected in the adventure modes by completing certain tasks or paying for them outright using the games currency: Ryo. Some will come easily just by playing through the games, but others will require eventual mastery over combat, completing challenges under certain times, or achieving specific objectives during missions. All collectibles are logged in a collectibles page for you to observe and enjoy at your leisure.

The greatest fan to the flame of fandom is context. Things are universally better if you understand them and if you have frame of reference. This is also true of the Naruto games. They feel better if you already know what you are about to enjoy. To an outsider, the steep learning curve and unfriendly difficulty might prove to be big red flags, and enough reason to stay away from an otherwise great collection. However, if you are already of fan of what Naruto games have to offer, have played one or more of the games in the past, or are just a fan of the show looking for a diving in point, this collection is something you should seriously consider.

The value of getting all four of these games, plus the DLC content, for the cost of one title is nothing to balk at. Even I, who has, if nothing else, proven that I’m terrible at these games, have found enjoyment in what was presented. If this sounds at all like it might be up your ally then take it from me; put on some cozy socks, find a snack or some tea, pick a good wall, and start burning those calories. Burn them good.


Find a way to help the players, especially new players, dip their toes in more slowly. The games are wholly too overwhelming at first.

Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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