Fans of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations will be familiar with the card game Extreme: Shinobi Picture Scrolls. The show's characters adore the game and the cards serve as an important world-building tool, showing just how revered the shinobi are. Each of the Extreme: Shinobi Picture Scroll cards depicts a notable shinobi and gives a brief description of the depicted shinobi's life and accomplishments. The cards are ranked by rarity, from common to the almost-legendary SSR rarity.
Boruto is a big fan of the game, having several binders full of different cards including duplicates, some of which he gifts to people he meets on his adventures. These cards are so important to Boruto that he spends an episode campaigning for Shino Aburame to be included in the next set of cards, knowing how much such an honor would mean to him. What some fans may not know is that there have been two Naruto-themed card games released. While neither of these games is identical to Extreme: Shinobi Picture Scrolls, they are interesting games in their own right with similarities to Boruto's beloved game.
In 2006, Bandai launched the Naruto TCG. Much like Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon and countless other TCGs, Naruto was a two-player dueling game, where players would attempt to use their deck to defeat their opponent. The main focus of the game was the shinobi cards. Like the cards found in Extreme: Shinobi Picture, Scrolls each card depicts a character from the Naruto universe. In addition to shinobi, the game also contains Jutsu, Mission and Client cards that allow you to increase the power of your characters or hinder your opponent.
Much like Shinobi Picture Scrolls, cards in the Naruto TCG are ranked by rarity. Interestingly, the rarity system in the Japanese version is different from the one used in the American release. In Japan, cards go from zero dots for common cards to five dots for super rare cards. In America, it goes from zero dots to three dots, and the rarest cards are represented by three red dots.
The game was immensely popular among fans of the series. When the game was first released, it quickly sold out all across America. This caused booster pack prices to spike. Many resellers rushed out to buy packs so that they could sell them on eBay and other websites for inflated prices. However, the game was not without its issues. Bandai's card release schedule was tied to the Japanese episode air dates, meaning that cards came out much earlier in Japan. American websites would often translate the Japanese cards and get spoilers for upcoming characters and plot points, something that drew the ire of the North American distributor. Several expansion sets were released, adding more cards and mechanics to the game. The game was eventually discontinued in 2013 following the release of the Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 pack.
This wasn't the only Naruto-themed card game. In 2019, Bandai released the Naruto/Boruto Card Game. In this game, two to four players do their best to create a deck of cards and form a team of the world's best shinobi. The game was praised for its unique resource management mechanic, called Chrono Clash. Rather than an abstract resource, players have to manage time. Once you've used all your time your opponent gets to take their turn. This means that the game recreates the momentum and flow of the battles from the TV series, as players trade flurries of attacks.
The game is made more interesting by the addition of two different win conditions. You can attain victory by dealing enough damage to your opponent or by collecting enough quest points. Much like the cards from Extreme: Shinobi Picture Scrolls, each card features the image of a character from the Naruto universe. However, rather than text, the card's abilities are shown as a series of icons. While this may seem intimidating at first, it does become quite intuitive after a short time.
While it's surprising that there hasn't been an official version of Extreme: Shinobi Picture Scrolls, both of these games are perfect for getting your Naruto fix. The fact that the Naruto/Boruto Card Game supports four players makes it an excellent game night or party standby, letting you have a little shinobi fun at any gathering!