The Naruto manga has reached its conclusion nearly two years ago and it won't be much longer until the anime reaches its end as well. While Namco Bandai early this year released Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, which goes all the way till the end of the story, that didn't stop Namco from developing another Naruto game, Naruto Online. This free-to-play browser game is an interesting MMORPG experience for Naruto fans, one that will allow players to relive the story of Naruto.
Naruto Online follows through the main storyline of Naruto from the beginning to its end, from its sad and touching story moments to its epic and intense battles. However, instead of controlling Naruto or any other character from the Naruto universe, the game gives you the option to pick one of five different characters that were created and designed by series creator Masashi Kishimoto. Each character has its own abilities, strengths and weakness, as well as chakra nature.
Despite controlling a completely new character, you will be accompanying Naruto and his friends through their adventures, almost like you were part of the story to begin with it. While most of the story is told through in-game dialogue, some crucial and important moments of the story are featured via cutscenes that were taken directly from the anime, something that makes the experience more appealing for fans. In case you want to take a break from the story, you can always explore the Hidden Leaf Village, talk to villagers and other players, as well as take on sidequests.
From a gameplay standpoint, Naruto Online's combat is turn-based, however, it plays differently from most would expect. Instead of you selecting the action and respective target for each character, combat plays out automatically aside from some character abilities that you can select anytime you want as long as you have enough chakra. This makes combat feel a bit dull because it becomes more about watching the game than actually playing it. Despite combats happening almost without you having to interact and make choices, there's a lot of strategy and thinking involved, and of course, luck.
You can recruit several characters from the Naruto universe to you party, and with each character having different abilities and strengths, making a good decision for your lineup of ninjas could make things a lot easier for you. For example, Naruto can create clones which not acts as "protection" for your other characters while also increases damage done when Naruto attacks, while Sakura can heal your team and restore some HP to everyone. In addition, characters in your party can perform combo attacks with other ninjas present in your party. However, these combo attacks only happen when certain ninja are together in the party, such as Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura. If you are a Naruto fan, you will be able to easily guess which characters work well together and which don't.
In addition to choosing the best lineup of ninjas, equipping your characters properly also plays a huge factor in battle. You can earn weapons, accessories and other equipment during missions scattered around the floor, as rewards for completing quests, or purchase them in the shop. You can even strengthen your gear by spending money and/or attaching items called magatama to them. With the combat playing mostly on its own, having better equipment will give you the edge during battle.
While these additions make the combat a little more interesting and strategic, the increasing difficulty ruins the experience after a while. During the first hours you should be able to complete most missions without any trouble, but after a while, you will realize that you will either need to do a huge amount of grind or use the game's microtransactions to get better equipment, characters and increase your level in order to progress. The game offers lots of sidequests and special events to make this easier, but they become boring after a while as the large majority come down to go from point A to point B and defeat an enemy.
From a presentation perspective, Naruto Online does a decent job for a browser game. The game's visuals look great with detailed and colorful backgrounds, something that also applies to character models and battle animations. The anime cutscenes to tell some of the story's strongest moments is also a nice touch. The soundtrack also does a passable job, with the game borrowing several music tracks from the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series.
In the end, Naruto Online is a free-to-play title that features some interesting ideas and features, but its negative aspects drag down the experience. While there's some strategy involved when it comes to equipment and choosing your team, the fact that battle that plays out on its own makes the experience boring and repetitive after a while. This added to the fact that a huge amount of grind or transactions is needed as your progress through the game, makes Naruto Online an experience that only Naruto fans will enjoy.
|Allows fans to relive the story of Naruto almost like they were part of it.|
|Thereâ€™s some strategy involved when it comes to choosing your ninja and gear.|
|Decent presentation for a free-to-play browser game.|
|Automatic turn-based system becomes dull and boring after a while.|
|Too much grinding required to see the full story.|
|Repetitive sidequests and events.|