With its gigantic character roster, original story mode, and fairly expansive 'History' mode, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections just about manages to justify its existence — even though, at its core, this is pretty much a repackaging of previous Storm titles.
Featuring every playable character from past games alongside a smattering of fresh Boruto faces, this is the series' most comprehensive instalment in terms of gameplay. As a three-on-three arena fighter, there are god-knows how many team combinations to explore, and assembling your dream ninja squad is still great fun.
The combat system itself also holds up, with its somewhat tactical implementation of special moves, character switching, and assist attacks allowing for a decent degree of depth. The Storm games have never been what we'd call 'balanced', and the same is true of Connections, but it's easy to enjoy just how dynamic the action can be — if only because of how many varied characters are at your disposal.
Now then, the new single-player modes. 'Special Story' is a weird one; you play as Boruto, who dives into what is essentially a Naruto MMO in which users battle it out as famous ninja. His virtual escapades occur alongside an actual conspiracy that's unfolding in the Hidden Leaf. This is probably where most of Connections' budget ended up, as the mode consists of voiced cutscenes and unique combat encounters. The tone's a bit strange and it's ultimately just a series of linear episodes (there's no exploration, like in Storm 4's Boruto expansion), but it's oddly entertaining while it lasts.
'History' mode, meanwhile, attempts to retell all of the major plot points of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden through key fights and stills taken from the anime. It's executed reasonably well despite feeling a touch uninspired, and you get to experience some of the really cool-looking, QTE-laced boss battles from previous Storm games.
There's also a ridiculous amount of stuff to unlock as you play through Connections. Alternate character costumes, colour schemes, cosmetic accessories, artworks... it's enough to keep hardcore players busy for weeks.
Because so much of its content is repurposed from past games, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is easier to recommend if you're new to the series. That said, this is still an impressively comprehensive anime fighter; the team-based gameplay holds up, the new modes are solid overall, and sheer size of the character roster is hard to ignore.