Bandai Namco at AX2023 – Sword Art Online and Naruto X Boruto Preview

Bandai Namco Kurama Anime Expo 2023

At Anime Expo 2023, we had the opportunity to meet with Bandai Namco to preview some of their upcoming games, check out some of their new products, and tour their variety of booths on the show floor. During Anime Expo, Bandai Namco occupied the frontmost spot within the Exhibitor hall but still had a presence in the Entertainment hall. Their booth featured special setups commemorating One Piece, Naruto, Sword Art Online, and My Hero Academia. At the booths, guests could take pictures with cosplayers or a variety of anime statues; additionally, they could try out Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, One Piece Odyssey, and Sword Art Online Last Recollection.

Behind the Bandai Namco Booth were The Gundam Base, Tamashii Nations, and BANPRESTO. Now all these are also owned by Bandai Namco, which means that had great initial foot traffic. The Gundam Base offered Gundams that you could only get in Japan as well as newly released Gundams; the base offered a variety of kits ranging from prebuilt models to more expensive builds. Now even though Bandai Namco had a massive presence in the Exhibitor Hall, they had even more booths in the Entertainment Hall. In the Entertainment hall, guests could check out the Gashapon machines, World of Ghibli, and Nanoblock (a Lego competitor) booths.

Thanks to our meeting with Bandai Namco representative, Justin, we had the opportunity to check out the different booths. The sheer presence they had in both halls was almost overwhelming. Obviously, the brand definitely will be remembered in most attendees’ memories. Personally, we look forward to building the exclusive Gundams that we picked up during the show. We can share with you those builds at a future date.

Bandai Namco Games

Thanks to Justin, we had the chance to preview Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections and Sword Art Online Last Recollection without having to wait a long time.

Naruto X Boruto

Up first was Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections. As someone who doesn’t play fighting games very often, I was given the choice to either play against a bot or play against a real player. Since bots in demos are typically rather easy to beat, I chose to play against a real player; thankfully, the person who I was paired against was gracious enough to let me learn the controls and try out a few combos before going at it.

The match went to the final round where it ended up in a close finish. CyberConnect2 has done a great job with the visual components of the game with combos looking beautiful. In prior iterations of the Naruto games, you could see when frames would skip or an animation would start after a combo. In Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections the combo animations feel seamless and flow together smoothly.

After playing this, I’d love to try out the game when it is released later this year (2023).

Sword Art Online

After playing Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, we were then taken to the Sword Art Online Last Recollection demo. As someone who has not played the different Sword Art Online games, it took a bit to get used to. The hardest part was that I kept accidentally switching characters so I would get lost in the fight. Once I was able to combine my experience from One Piece Odyssey, it became a lot easier to follow.

The game’s controls were fairly easy to understand but it took a while to get used to the mana (System Call) system. Now, this is fairly common with jumping into a game at a random point but could have used a little explanation. The game itself looked beautiful even if we were stuck in a desert with monsters trying to kill us. The only thing that was confusing about the game was that there was a character we did not recognize. Maybe when the game releases it will be explained or maybe we missed something from a previous game. Like Naruto X Boruto, I look forward to playing it when it releases on October 5th, 2023.

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Hardcore gaming enthusiast, cosplayer, streamer, Tall Anime lover (6ft 9), and a die-hard competitor. I have been a Pop-Culture Journalist since 2011 specializing in shooters, Pokemon, and RPGs.

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