An abundance of popular Manga series’ have been adapted for television and video games, but none have been more successful than Naruto. I know, even more so than Dragonball. These games are usually adventure and fighting games. What happens when you combine the two? Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (which I will now be calling Naruto Ninja Storm 3 for the sake of my own sanity) begins right where Ninja Storm 2 left off. One of Naruto’s greatest friends, Sasuke Uchiha seems to have taken a bit of a turn to the dark side. Naruto sets off on a journey to clear his friend’s name, and to stop a sort of Ninja model UN from attempting to kill his friend. From this point on, Naruto sets off on an epic adventure involving numerous ninja battles, godlike astral projections of giant animals, and a lot of animated crying.
Akin to the game’s predecessors, it looks fantastic. Graphically it looks exactly as this should. A living manga come to life straight from the pages of the books. It really is a testament to the hard work gone into the game that you can have something beautifully resemble a cartoon whilst being on a three-dimensional plane. It seems strange to say, but they haven’t attempted to improve the graphics since the start of the series. That alone offends me in a way, but I also feel myself asking ‘why mess with success?’
Sound in the game is pretty good too. The score suits the content throughout and captures every mood that is on the screen. It’s nothing to shout about, but it’s definitely not bad. The entire cast of the television show have reprised their roles of these insanely popular characters, so fans will have a great time with that. The purists even have the option of selecting the original Japanese voice work. This has its own drawbacks as it makes the lip syncing almost unbearable.
This is where I feel this may be a controversial review. I’m no fan of Naruto. I’m not even a fan of anime. The furthest I have gone in that respect is checking out Death Note and the Devil May Cry series. But the story, understanding it is not as simple as reading a synopsis before you give the game a go. Not even playing the first two in the series is enough to catch you up to speed. No, you need to be aware of Naruto’s history, watching the hundreds of episodes that have been created just to hope to stand a chance of understanding what’s going on. However, I took this in jest and tried to enjoy it for what it was. The story mode just became long and tedious. With lengthy cut-scenes that would put Metal Gear to shame and more ninja themed pseudonyms than there are acronyms in a Bourne movie. You will find yourself becoming engrossed in just trying to understand what the hell they are talking about. There also seem to be important plot points that drop out without any conclusion. I’m not sure whether this is poor writing, or if it’s just something I am expected to know by watching the anime, I’ll go for the latter as I have heard that Naruto is quite a well written series.
First and foremost, this is a fighting game at its core. They game won’t let you forget it, with a smooth system and wonderful boss battles that leave you wanting more. I just wanted to skip the story altogether and fight beast after beast. The fighting mechanic is reminiscent of Tekken, being able to start combos without finishing them, and mix and matching them with other combos. This enables you to start your own sort of super combos. Pulling off a sweet 50 hit combo that you’ve had stored in your head is one of the most gratifying things you could ever do in gaming.
The boss battles are what make this game, using all of your know-how to dodge all of their attacks and use your greatest combos to despatch your foes can be tough. Once you’ve discovered their weaknesses and caused enough damage, QTE segments will appear. It is not annoying QTE, however and it is tastefully done. Quite reminiscent of Asura’s Wrath. It seems to capture cinematic moments that I would assume are in the anime without breaking up the flow of the fight. Hitting bonus objectives that are listed before the fight will bring up a prompt to end the match with a ‘Jutsu’ (Naruto slang for a special move). This will bring up a quick extra moment that will develop the character’s emotions further.
There is a point where the story mode becomes quite dull. There are a large amount of free-roaming sections that serve almost no purpose other than breaking up the action and story. You can spend this time collecting items and money hidden throughout the world and interacting with characters to hear their useless dialogue. There are also shops where you can purchase other items to use throughout your quests. Honestly, this is one of the most boring additions I’ve ever seen to a game. It boggles the mind as to why this was ever included in the first place.
For all of its complications and its giant cast, Naruto Ninja Storm 3 is actually quite easy to pick up. It’s very casual friendly and its combos are easy to master. It can be a bit overwhelming with the long list of options that are at your mercy, but once you learn a thing or two that is useful, it will become a seamless part of your repertoire that you can hit without breaking a sweat.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is quite a good game overall. It features a 10 hour long campaign with a ton of extras to unlock, including characters, art cards, and further backstory to Naruto lore. It doesn’t seem to be much different from further iterations; I’d go as far as to say the only difference is the story itself. The versus mode is a ton of fun as it is strictly the fighting part of the game. This is where you can truly see the depth that is in the fighting mechanics, taking your character online and pitting yourself against truly superior players lets you see that there is a lot that you can learn from this game. The story covers the anime extensively which will garner much praise from its fanbase. The graphics are the biggest win here as they capture the tone of the anime perfectly. I will say that this game is not bad at all, but I would also say that to truly enjoy the game, you have to be a fan of the manga and or show. Be warned, this title is for Naruto purists only.
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