* Note: To prevent spoilers, Tobi will continue to be referred to as such even after the reveal of his true identidy.
The 5th entry in the Ninja Storm series of Naruto games (6th if you count Impact for the PSP), Revolution was launched on September 16th for the PS3, XBOX 360 and also on Steam, bringing new changes from its predecessor, Storm 3. Combining all playable and support-only characters, we have a total of 118 characters, the largest amount in the franchise yet, including Mecha-Naruto, a new character designed by Kishimoto exclusively for this game. The Konoha 12’s younger versions and Supports from Part 1 return from Generations, and we have new additions such as the unmasked Tobi, Madara Uchiha with his war fan and a whole new moveset, Sage Mode Hashirama Senju , Reanimated Minato with the same Kyuubi Chakra Mode Naruto has, Kushina Uzumaki, Shisui Uchiha, Konohamaru, Iruka, Tailed Beast Link Mode Naruto, Sharingan Kakashi and the widely requested Reanimated Kages from the previous game.
The Storm series allows you to have your favourite characters battle it out on 1-on-1 battles, or Team Battles with the main fighters aided by up to 2 support characters. With varied moves at your disposition, it makes for a very fun, fast-paced battle. The wide amount of moves and commands avaliable for each fighter also give a good strategic touch to the game. For fans of the series, there are some new changes to the battle system, which will be further adressed below.
In Storm 3, the battle system consisted of every character having a moveset consisting of a set of combos, projectile throws, a short arsenal of personal items to use with the D-Pad, grabs, a regular special attack (referred to in-game as Jutsu) as well as an Ultimate Jutsu, which is their strongest special attack. There are also Awakenings, which give your character a temporary power-up, with them being split in two classes. Tilt Awakenings can be activated and deactivated at any time during the battle by flicking the Right Analog Stick at the cost of your Chakra gauge’s max capacity slowly shrinking while it lasts. Conversely, True Awakenings can only be activated by holding the Chakra button with a full Chakra gauge when your Health reaches a certain point, and gives the character a temporary power-up lasting for a good amount of time. Some Awakenings can drastically change movesets and give a character Awakening actions that can be triggered by pressing R1/RB or L1/LB. There is also the Chakra gauge that allows you to use special attacks, perform dashes and power your projectiles. You could also cancel combos into dashes allowing you to perform larger chains of combos, and a Substitution Gauge which allowed you to use Substitution to negate attacks. The bar allows you to use 4 substitutions before it needs to be refilled again. The game displays an optional mode of Team Battle where you picked the character to fight with and up to 2 characters to assist you in battle by calling upon them with R1/RB or L1/LB to use their special attacks. The Support characters were split in 3 types: Attack type, which allows a Support character to join in your combos by giving an addtional Strike Back rebound attack after the combo finisher; Guard type, which covers you when you’re restoring your Chakra gauge or blocks the opponent’s dash; and Balance type, which allows assist characters to take Ultimate Jutsus for you, fire projectiles along with yours and, in certain stages, save you from a Ring Out. Balance and Attack types could also join in a Team Relay Attack, triggered by holding the Ⓞ/B button. There was also the ability to call upon your Supports to guard you from Strike Backs at the cost of some of their health.
For Team Battles, characters had a Team Gauge which filled as supports were used. When half-full, Support Drive mode is activated, which allowed supports to perform their Support Type’s unique actions. A full Team Gauge allows you to unleash a Team Ultimate Jutsu where your team attacks the opponent before your character uses the Ultimate Jutsu. You also were unable to use Supports while Awakened, and if supports take a certain amount of damage during the battle, they’re permanently removed from combat.
Storm Revolution completely changes that battle system in favour of splitting the characters in 3 Battle Types and the Team Gauge was replaced by the Storm Gauge, which works differently depending on the Battle Type. The Battle Types in this game are:
- Ultimate Jutsu type: Allows your character to use its Ultimate Jutsu which now costs as much as Normal Jutsu to use, but you can’t use Awakening nor Support Drive. In team battles, certain Team Combinations allow you to use a special Combination Ultimate Jutsu.
- Awakening Type: Allows your character to use both Tilt Awakening at the start of the battle, and True Awakening after filling the Storm Gauge. You can’t use Ultimate Jutsu or Drive as an Awakening Type;
- Drive Type: Allows your character to use Support Drive. You can switch between Attack Drive and Defense Drive, which changes how your supports join you in battle, or activate Auto Drive which allows you to use both Drives temporarily, and use Seal Barrier with a full Storm Gauge, which severely limits your opponent for a period of time.
Team Relay Attacks are now gone, and instead we have Counterattacks triggered by pressing RT/R2 + X/□ and Guard Break attacks triggered by pressing the assigned D-Pad direction holding the Guard Attack item. Counterattacks and Guard Break stun the opponent temporarily and prevent the opponent from using substitution and supports until it wears off.
* Ninja Tournament: The “Story mode”. A character of your choice gets sent to an island to take part in a worldwide Tournament that gathers warriors from beyond the barriers of time. Even characters that would normally be dead at this point, like the previous 4 Hokages, Madara Uchiha and most of the Akatsuki are taking part. This is entirely Non-Canon. You have tournaments that range from Rank D to S to take part in and clearing Rank D for the first time unlocks the “Mecha-Naruto story”. This particular mode is the true Story mode that follows right after the events of Ninja Storm 3, where Naruto successfully defeated Tobi and stopped the war. Naruto accompanies Hinata to the Tournament Island for a mission, and there they find Mecha-Naruto, who claims to have lost his memory and needs a Memory Fragment to restore it. They learn the fragment is being given as the winning prize for the World Tournament, and the 3 of them join it as a team. The Ninja Tournament also introduces a new battle mode where 4 fighters clash simultaneously in the battlefield to gather orbs. The one with most orbs wins, and it’s the main battle type seen in this mode. You can also do varied sidequests like Ally Events, where you can recruit characters from the roster to be playable in this mode, Friendship Events where you witness cutscenes taking place between different characters, and jobs that have you perform a mission that gives you a reward once it’s completed.
* Free Battle: Traditional VS mode. You can customize your characters with accessories here, as well as take part in normal VS matches, Tournaments, league-styled tournaments and the Survival mode.
* Ninja Escapades: Taking a page from Generations, which had a Story mode playing entirely on cutscenes animated by Studio Pierrot, responsible for the main Anime’s animation, along with battles, Ninja Escapades gives you 3 separate side-stories told in anime cutscenes to play:
- The Creation of Akatsuki: This side-story adresses the Akatsuki’s past and how its members were recruited. You play as varied Akatsuki members as they gather new members.
- The Two Uchiha: This side-story focuses on the tale of Itachi Uchiha and his best friend Shisui Uchiha before the Uchiha Massacre took place. You play as Shisui.
- The Far Reaches Of Hope: This side-story shows a brief moment of Minato and Kushina’s past before their death. In the end, Kushina tells Minato that she wishes her child grows to be hardworking and treasuring his friends like Obito does. Finally, time fast-fowards to the 4th Ninja War, with the Ninja Alliance facing Tobi and Madara atop the revived Juubi. Unlike the previous two side-stories, this one has no fights.
* Online Mode: Exactly what it says on the label. Play online matches against friends or random matches and tournaments worldwide. You can also create Network Clones, a new feature to the series which allows you to customize a character that fights for you, gathering experience and items, while controlled by the CPU when you’re away from the game. The Ninja Info Card feature that allows you to create your profile returns from the previous games.
So for my impressions for this game, the roster is the best and most varied in the series yet, and the Ninja Tournament mode does not disappoint. Mecha-Naruto’s story mode is a nice addition too. The accessory customization is a cool feature that allows you to give your personal touch to the characters, specially in Online mode. The Combination Ultimate Jutsu are nothing short of amazing, and The 3D battle style continues being fun to play. The Ninja Escapades feature is a nice call back to Generation and a nice additon that helps give the game that Anime feel. And with the Ninja Escapades scenes and the Mecha-Naruto story, in addition to the previous entries in the Storm series’ story mode, this series established a Canon of its own, rather than following the main series’ canon fully, which is quite the interesting touch. The fanbase’s general agreement is that the Storm series’ story mode is better than canon, and Kishimoto himself agrees. In regards to the gameplay, as someone who owns both Storm 3 and Revolution, the gameplay flows better in Revolution, and a lot of lags were removed. The updated movesets to most characters are a very much welcome feature in this game.
But not all is roses in this revolution. While in the previous games you could run Ultimate Jutsu, Awakenings and Support Drive in one single moveset, which gave you a wider array of moves and strategies to incorporate in your playstyle, the new Battle System making you choose between only one of them is severely limiting. The Drive Type is nigh useless outside of Team Battles as well, while Ultimate Jutsu and Awakenings are perfectly usable then. If Supports are defeated, rather than staying down for the rest of the match, they come back after a set amount of time. Strike Backs also can’t be blocked anymore. This severely imbalances the battle system in the Drive Type’s favor, and makes characters like the Second Mizukage and Deidara very overpowered. Story-wise, you kinda wish there was a Ninja Alliance vs Juubi final battle at the end of The Far Reaches of Hope. Also, while the 4-way battle in Ninja Tournament being unavailable online was a given, considering the sheer amount of lag that would be present in the battle, it could be at least left available in offline multiplayer as another nice optional rather than being left single-player exclusive. And on that subject, the Ninja Tournament mode can get a bit too repetitive after a while.
Overall, Revolution is a fun game, especially for Naruto fans, but not quite a full revolution in the Storm series, mostly due to the Battle System changes that really hurt it.
For those who played it, what are your thoughts? Let your opinions be known in the comments!
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