Bandai Namco are soon to release the newest instalment in their Naruto fighting game franchise, developed by CyberConnect2. As a huge fan of both the UNS and Naruto series, I jumped at the chance to see how Revolution would fill the gap between UNS3 and the inevitable fourth instalment.
The UNS series takes characters from the Naruto universe and puts them into a 3D battle arena. It focuses on simplistic gameplay, with melee and ranged attacks confined to one button each, and another for powering up attacks. It’s not as deep as fighting games like Street Fighter or BlazBlue, but has a lot of potential for competitive play.
If you haven’t come across Naruto or the UNS series before, the impressive visuals should be enough to pique your interest, but fans of the series have the extra benefit of the endless fan-service the games offer. Players with a little knowledge of the series are rewarded with more than just the satisfaction of controlling their favourite characters; there are other, simple touches that show CyberConnect2’s dedication – like combat bonuses when selecting teams that would work well together.
Revolution looks to have a more extensive roster than ever, giving the player ample choice for team building. After playing for a couple of hours, I was able to see about half of the characters available to me, and it was nice to see fewer duplicated characters than in the previous game.
Revolution doesn’t continue the main story from where UNS3 left off. Instead, it offers two playing modes in lieu of a traditonal story mode. The first of these, Ninja Escapades, is a set of short episodes, much like the stories playable in Generations (which filled the gap between UNS2 and UNS3). The second and more substantial mode, Ninja World Tournament, combines a new style of fighting with a non-canon story.
Ninja Escapades features three short episodes of previously unshown footage. This ‘Ninja Escapades’ mode takes less than an hour to complete, but nicely fills some gaps left by the anime. The most prominent of these escapades is the second, which shows us more of the friendship between Itachi and Shisui before the Uchiha massacre.
The first of the episodes has some poorly written dialogue, but makes up for it with a handful of battles against characters with newly designed costumes. The writer of Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto, has also drawn a handful of new costumes and powerups for different characters, including the creation of a whole new character specifically for the game. Many of these new creations make their debut throughout the Escapades, with the new character’s story being available upon their completion.
I didn’t get to play a huge amount of the other mode, Ninja World Tournanment, so I can only talk about it in general terms. It gives players a chance to fight in a 4-person battle, with no team support, and fight their way through increasingly difficult battles until they win the tournament prize.
Ninja World Tournament doesn’t use a health bar; rather, each player starts off with 1000 orbs that are lost through being damaged, and given to the attacker. In subsequent fights, these orbs are passed onto the next team-mate, and the victor is decided by whoever has the most orbs when the time runs out in the final match.
It has some fun mechanics in it, like traps on the stage to knock people into and rails to grind along while firing attacks at the other players. It can get a little hectic at times, since there are two more enemies to deal with than usual, but it makes for a good challenge and forces you to rethink your old, 1v1 battle strategies.
Between fights, players must perform missions for other characters to gain their trust and have the option to recruit them in later battles. It lets the player set their own pace in the tournament – either rushing in with the team they start with, or to rub elbows with the right people and gather an elite team of their choosing.
At its core, the fighting remains similar to the last few instalments – but some key changes have been made. Several new features have been added, including a new counterattack that drains 25% of your chakra, but instantly stuns the enemy, and ‘team types’ that let you specialise your team. Team types allow for different modes and abilities to be activated, including better ultimate jutsu, stronger awakenings (overdrive transformations) and an improved support mode. If a fighter deals or receives enough damage, their STORM gauge will fill and allow for a further improved team mode to be activated.
These new changes adds a lot to the battles and keeps them fast paced. It also makes the option of a singles match more appealing; rather than just removing the option of support, it removes team types and allows for less hectic battles.
Although UNS Revolution doesn’t continue with the story of Naruto, it looks like it will still deserve its place in the series thanks to how it revolutionises the fighting. It isn’t much of a step forward from UNS3, but the small steps it has taken have all been in the right direction. Revolution is due for release mid-September, and I can’t wait for the chance to play it again then.