I never gave Naruto –the anime — a chance. I dismissed it as a Dragon Ball Z knock off for the younger generation. There’s a perverted old man (Jiraiya) who harkens back to Master Roshi. Sasuke’s relationship with Naruto is much like Goku and Vegeta’s. I also noticed that Naruto always seems to be at his lowest point before he realizes his true strength and achieves victory — like Goku. Why watch a rehash of one of my favorite anime when I can watch the “source material?”
With this mindset, I picked up the controller with almost no interest in the lore. I knew very little back story and had no connection with the characters. Yet, after playing Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, I walked away with a new found respect and interest for the beloved anime. I’m now watching the show and find it enjoyable. This is a testament to the game’s depiction of the animes’ charming characters, and how thoroughly CyberConnect2 has worked to make an amazingly beautiful recreation of a very worthy anime.
Anime fans will quickly notice that story mode in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 covers the currently running fourth great ninja war arc. As such, I won’t divulge spoilers for those watching the current season or looking forward to playing the game. Just bear in mind if you do pick this game up, you’ll probably advance ahead of whats currently occurring in the anime. The game graciously recreates these moments without being a traditional fighter, which is actually quite refreshing.
The familiar one-on-one bouts with support characters return. However, boss battles are thrown into the mix after their absence in Generations. During these boss battles, you’ll duke it out against significantly more difficult opponents. Obviously, battles differ in scale, but you generally don’t approach them like typical fights. For example, early on you’ll mix it up with an enemy in a highly cinematic fight while running across roof tops to dodge its attacks. There are some incredibly massive events that occur that will surely have you in awe.
To up the ante, you’re given a chance to make an Ultimate Decision before a boss battle. The decision encompasses two different routes: a Hero Route and a Legend Route. These choices yield Hero Points and Legend Points, respectively. These points can be used to unlock alternate story lines and multiple endings. Although the Legend Routs is more of a side-story it adds to the replayability, which in my eyes is always better. There are Dynasty Warriors-inspired battles that have you mowing down enemy waves.
Story mode is a ridiculously engaging experience that’ll have you watching the onscreen action as much as you partake in it. During battles you obtain Secret Factors, hidden events that give characters brief back-stories and explain their motives. Secret Factors are earned by completing quick time events accurately and as fast as possible. Yes, I hate quick time events as much as the next person, but in this case they’re enhancive as they engage you during cinematics. Luckily, there’s a prompt before the QTEs so you’re never caught off guard. Some battles contain Secret Actions, cinematic QTE attacks that can only be triggered by recreating a moment from the show during a battle. The voice acting is top notch you can choose between Japanese voice actors (with English subs of course) or English voice actors. They both sound amazing, but it’s great to see the option to choose included.
I’m now watching the show and find it enjoyable. This is a testament to the game’s depiction of the animes’ charming characters, and how thoroughly CyberConnect2 has worked to make an amazingly beautiful recreation of a very worthy anime.
It’s hard not to fawn over Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm’s visuals: the amazing attention to detail has to be praised. The character models are all top-notch, which is impressive when you realize that there are over 70 playable characters. Each character looks exactly like his or her anime counterpart, and also shares the same move set and animations from the show. Sadly, there are a few characters that should have been playable but are not. The Edo-Kages aren’t playable, although they do appear in the story and have a diverse move list. Namco Bandai hasn’t confirmed that they’ll be available as DLC in the future, either.
With a game this gorgeous, I knew frame rate issues would arise. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm moves so quickly — and with so much happening on screen — that frame rates take a hit. It’s not a major issue, but when it does occur it can causes errors when inputting commands.
The game play mechanics are simple, so don’t expect a technical fighter like Street Fighter or Persona 4: Arena. However this doesn’t mean the game lacks depth. To succeed you have to have a good defensive and offensive balance. If you constantly rush a skilled opponent you’ll be picked to pieces by well timed dodges and blocks. The use of support characters and items during battle add a strategic element to fights. You can call in a support character to distract your opponent while you size them up for devastating attacks.
There is a training mode where you can experiment and hone your skills, but I would suggest trying the local multiplayer with a friend. Playing against a unpredictable human opponent will allow you to gauge which moves work in certain situation, while also having a great time. Two experienced players put on an entertaining match where moves are countered and dodged with lighting quick speeds. The online net code, unfortunately, is average at best; lag and frame rate drops prove frustrating. However, when things are running on all cylinders, the online multiplayer will keep you entertained for hours.
After experiencing Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 I truly believe CyberConnect2 should be allowed to create all of Namco Bandai Games licensed anime properties. There’s talk of a possible Dragon Ball Z game in the near future, but I’d love a Gundam Wing game from this development team. It truly understands how to give gamers more than fan service. If you’re a long time fan, or even mildly interested in the series, this is a worthy pick up.
Now I’m off to continue my Naruto marathon. Dattebayo!
You can buy Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 at Amazon for $28.86.