Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers – Hands-On Impressions At Bandai Namco HQ

“Being a Shinobi Striker is my nindo; my ninja way!” Naruto (probably), 2017

This might just be me, but hearing a title like Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers elicits connotations of Naruto characters have a quick game of football between Ninja battles. Naruto uses his shadow clones to form an 11 side team to take on the rest of the Hidden Leaf Village. I’d play that game, everybody would play that game.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a football game. It’s a 4v4 class based arena brawler where teams compete over different objectives. The mode we played during our demo was “flag battle”, which is essentially the tried and tested mode of capture the flag. However, the game will ship with other modes, including Tower Battle and Mission Mode.

Characters are split into one of four classes. Attackers like Kakashi and Naruto are your frontline, responsible for getting in, grabbing the flag and bolting, whilst the ranged characters such as Sasuke support from the back. As you might imagine, these are the easier characters to play as, and will often be the faces of your sudden but inevitable demise.

Naruto Boruto

Defense characters, which were unrepresented by official characters during our build but will include the swordsman Kisame, are the iron wall that protects the flag from the enemies. They’re the tanks; slow but devastating in capable hands. Healers like Sakura are self explanatory; crap in a fight but offer great support in any situation, making them one of the most useful classes the game. Expect plenty of Overwatch style messages begging you to play healer when the game ships next year.

Whilst we didn’t get to fool around with the character creator, we did get to see the fruits of its labour in the form of custom Shinobi. It’s a feature that I’m surprised hasn’t been added sooner. Most anime fans have likely fantasised about living in the same world as those characters they love. The four characters we were shown are also enough to suggest that there’s enough depth to really go wild with the tools provided.

Initially, the gameplay itself is a bit overwhelming. Fights can feel very hectic and chaotic, with jutsus and ninja trap flying around like insults during a Christmas dinner. Characters have access to light and strong attacks, 2 jutsu attacks, a substitution jutsu, a ninja tool and their secret technique, which functions as an ult.

Naruto Boruto

Like most class based games, your first couple of matches can be a little jarring, as you’re trying to figure precisely what the fuck you’re meant to be doing. Naturally, it’s hard to practise and test your moves in the middle of a live game, meaning you’ll get bodied a lot at the initial. Shinobi Strikers can also feel a little cheap. There are plenty of opportunities to get kicked off the map, and I was on the receiving end of that a few times. Getting some For Honor flashbacks here.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to truly get to grips with the game, but there’s enough potential for some hype-fuelled multiplayer action, as you’re running on walls trying to avoid a massive Rasenshuriken. Hopefully, the Bandai Namco team will implement a thorough tutorial system so that players can get up to speed before they take the game online. I’m cautiously optimistic, so long as Zabuza gets added to the roster. I need this.

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