This week I had the chance to play some of Bandai Namco’s upcoming titles at a press event in San Francisco. One of the more recently announced games I had the chance to try out was Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Strikers, a four-on-four online team-fighter set in the period of time between Naruto Shippuden and Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. The MonsterVine team got to try out the new “Capture the Flag” mode, and while the game still feels rather early in development, there’s quite a lot of potential present that has me feeling pretty optimistic about the game.
The preview map was set in a wooded area surrounded by a large fence (which, if I may channel my inner weeb for a second, seemed to be based just inside the Forest of Death). Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and Kakashi were playable alongside a few custom-made shinobi, with each character boasting a unique character type and moveset. This means that Sasuke, as a Ranged fighter, specializes in distanced attacks that cover a large area, while Sakura, as a Healer, has a moveset that’s more up-close and buff-based. After trying out a few different characters, I found the moveset variety between each to be perfectly sufficient. Kakashi and Sakura play in vastly different ways, as do Sasuke and Naruto.
Overall though, combat was secondary to mobility, which I feel could use a bit of work. To be fair, there are a lot of cool ways to find your way to the enemy flag. Classic Naruto abilities like running on walls and fast-paced shadow jumping are present, and proved to be instrumental in getting around the map. My main issue with character mobility in general is that it felt somewhat limited overall. Running feels a bit slow and jumping/launching yourself doesn’t send you as far as it feels like it should, Just running around in Shinobi Strikers is actually a lot of fun, so I hope it becomes more free and energetic before the game releases.
It’s worth pointing out that Shinobi Strikers does feel rather preliminary still. The audio levels were all over the place, the voice acting seemed to be placeholder, and there were some weird visual bugs that popped up here and there, but I can’t imagine these issues will be present upon the game’s release. As I said, this seems to be a very early build of the game, so these issues aren’t anything major.
Otherwise, Shinobi Strikers is a really fun idea that has a lot of potential. Trying to work with a team while running on walls and shooting lightning at each other is a lot of messy fun, as it should be. I think Shinobi Strikers could be a rather original take on the well-tread Capture the Flag game format, especially if it receives some enhanced mobility. I’m looking forward to seeing how the game turns out when it releases for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC later this year, and if you like Naruto, I’d say Shinobi Strikers is definitely worth keeping an eye on.