CyberConnect2’s third game in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series looks back at the entire Naruto legacy. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Generations covers the entire saga up to the the Five Kage Summit. Even though most of the characters from the Shinobi World War are in Generations you’ll have to wait for the inevitable next Naruto fighting game for that arc.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of other scenarios or "tales" as they are called in the game. You can see Naruto’s storyline (for the nth time) or see how events play out as Sasuke Uchiha or for an entirely different perspective you can replay all of Itachi’s main fights. The only thing missing from story mode are the dramatic boss battles with quick time events. I guess CyberConnect2 got tired of creating those after working on Asura’s Wrath. While the game has eleven storylines to play, they tend to overlap. Most of the fights from Zabuza and Haku’s tale are see in other scenarios like Naruto’s and Kakashi’s. Perhaps the highlight for Naruto fans are stories that expand on Minato Namikaze and Madara Uchiha’s roles in the Narutoverse. Even though the stories retread familiar ground, you have to play all of them again because most of the game’s 75 fighters are locked.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations has all of the characters from Storm 1 and Storm 2 except Tekken guest Lars Alexandersson. Newcomers include kage combatants Ay, Mei Terumi, and Onoki. Danzo, the "Masked Man," Haku, and Zabuza are other key additions to the roster. An additional 15 characters such as Anko, Kurenai, Shizune, and the Sound Four (Kimimaro is playable) are support only. Returning characters have been changed with new jutsus and some cases, but the biggest change isn’t the character list.
CyberConnect2 tweaked the fighting system for Generations and added a replacement jutsu meter. When you start a fight the meter is full and will let players escape from up to four attacks. The meter recharges throughout the fight, slowly at first, but rapidly after one bar fills up. This change makes it easier for newcomers use the replacement technique now since you don’t have to press block perfectly on frame and you don’t have the log fights like in older Naruto games. The catch is you have to conserve replacement techniques and save these. I changed my fighting style and experimented using the chakra back dash to escape attacks when I ran out of replacement techniques. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations also has canceling, which lets you change attacks mid-combo. Canceling drains some chakra, but allows players to extend the length of a combo by switching moves or jumping straight into an ougi.
Both of these are core changes, but fights tend to be tilted towards whoever can activate Awakening mode. You can only trigger an after losing 1/2 your life bar and with full chakra, so it’s like a comeback move. Perhaps, the ultimate comeback move. Sasuke gets Susano’o, which boosts his attack and greatly increases his range with a glowing sword. Naruto can turn into the six-tails, which can spit chakra blasts and Killer Bee draws out the power of the Eight-Tails. Awakening mode only lasts for a few seconds and your character is weakened if it runs out. Using an awakening turns the tide of a battle just as much as an X-Factor in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. While it makes fights tense, the sheer power of the Awakening technique throws balance out of the window.
Online play has more character customization options. Players can select a title (and like other fighting games there are dozens) and a greeting. You can also use ryo (money) earned from story mode to purchase battle items like strength buffs and bombs to use when fighting online. Another way you can get an edge is by using a Ninja Info card to bestow stat boosts to your fighter. These are based on collectable cards and one of the comes with the game. The main addition to the online mode are tournaments where up to eight people can fight their way to the top.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations adds Storm 1 and Storm 2 and the result is Storm 2.5. There are a handful of new characters and the fighting system changes are a welcome addition. However, while the game’s anime in motion style is as sleek as ever, it feels like we’ve seen most of this game before. And since we’ve seen the same fighters it would have been nice to have the roster unlocked from the beginning or at least unlock all of the characters earned in a Storm 2 save data file so fans can skip some of the same fights we’ve seen over and over again.