This ninja has seen his fair share of fighters and brawlers over the years. However, he's now battling online so get ready to fight!
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker is an online-focused experience that plays like an anti-gravity hyperactive beat 'em up. I've played a lot of Naruto's games over the years from Uzumaki Chronicles to Rise of a Ninja and Ultimate Ninja Storm to Kizuna Drive but I've never played anything quite like this. For starters, you play as your own created character which is a nifty concept. Afterwards, you'll find yourself in a hub area with plenty of other ninjas running around. This central hub isn't as elaborate as you'd expect as all you can do in it is enter a couple shops, configure a few things, and select what you want to play next. Upon taking the tutorial, you'll be delighted by how simple and intuitive the controls are. You can easily leap between platforms, run along walls, and perform an assortment of cool attacks to take down your opponents.
Speaking of combat, fighting in Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker is quite enjoyable at its core. You basically run around while unleashing close-range and strong melee attacks, throwing ninja tools, and using a couple of ninjutsu moves. You can also dodge and guard and if your timing is decent enough, you can even reflect your opponents when they try to land a blow. Meanwhile, your secret technique ninjutsu gauge will fill and once it's full, you can enter a powerful mode that may devastate your foes and heal any damage that you incurred. Overall, it's very easy to learn and offers a fun action-packed dynamic that makes battling online all the more fun.
You can play Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker either solo, cooperatively, or competitively. Firstly, the VR Arena missions can either be taken on solo or with other online players. Just to be clear, Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker doesn't actually feature VR support. Anyway, these missions involve accomplishing certain tasks which mostly require you to beat up hordes of enemies as well as giant bosses. Because that's all you essentially do, they get rather monotonous quite fast. When you factor in all the waiting that you have to do and the fact that you can only gain access to these missions by running around the hub area and talking to specific NPCs that may not even show up; you're left with a very tedious campaign. Playing cooperatively adds some fun but not much.
On the other hand, I found the competitive modes to be much more enjoyable. For starters, there are four varieties of matches: Flag, Base, Combat, and Barrier battles. My personal favourite are Base battles where two teams try and occupy certain areas. Being able to do so while working together to attack any opponents who try to occupy a zone is great fun. The simple fast-paced core gameplay makes the competitive online component really shine. I wish I could say the same about the single player and cooperative missions.
One aspect that Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker excels in is providing a lot of content to unlock. There are tons of goodies that can either be purchased or unlocked via scrolls such as weapons, costume pieces, and avatar parts. You can also customize your character's loadout such as their equipment and ninjutsu so tinkering around with options in order to optimize your character to your play style is quite rewarding. Finally, you can pick a VR master from a collection of classic Naruto characters in order to level up and earn bonuses.
Although the amount of customizability and unlockables is fantastic, I wish there was more character growth. Sure, equipping new stuff and customizing various aspects is satisfying but your character never actually becomes significantly stronger. I wish there was more of an RPG element to character growth because that would have made tackling the more difficult VR missions much more rewarding.
Finally, one downside that I should mention is that the gameplay frequently becomes very chaotic and messy. Automatically snapping to walls while having your locked on target warp to some unknown location is frustrating to say the least. As a result, you have to constantly reorient yourself if you want to play effectively which ends up feeling more finicky than challenging.
If Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker focused more on the competitive side of the equation then it would be a much more enjoyable game. As it is, it's tough to recommend although there's definitely a lot of promise here.
- + Simple and action-packed gameplay that's quite enjoyable at its core
- + Exciting competitive multiplayer
- + Lots of stuff to unlock
- - Single player and cooperative missions aren't that fun for various reasons
- - Gameplay can become fairly messy
- - Lacks any substantial character growth