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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Hands On Preview

Everyone's favorite Arian Ninja Returns.

As a fan of anime, I’ve played more than my fair share of iterative fighting games based off of my favorites, particularly the Dragon Ball Series. A common issue with those games is that they would often retell the same stories over and over, hoping that the changes in gameplay would warrant re-exploring the universe. Thankfully, the Naruto games haven’t suffered as much as the DBZ series since the story is still currently running. Though the games have largely been similar, the draw for me has been seeing my favorite moments from the anime and manga recreated in the beautiful engine used by CyberConnect2. Strangely though, upon getting my hands on the demo for the next title, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, I was pleased to see that there might be more than I bargained for in this package.

For those unfamiliar with the Naruto franchise, it tells the tale of a young ninja who dreams of being the best there is, otherwise known as the Hokage – a title reserved for the most respected and talented individuals. The story spans many arcs, dealing with loss, pain, friendship, courage and the occasional dose of humor. In the Naruto Universe, ninjas do battle with different techniques, from hand to hand combat (taijutsu) to fantastical techniques known as ninjutsu. The basis of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series has always been to recreate the best moments from the anime and manga, including a vast amount of fan service and engaging gameplay.

At its core, the Ultimate Ninja Storm games are of the fighting genre. Players pick from the huge amount of characters from the series to battle it out in one on one combat. These battles take place in huge circular battlefields that provide enough room for jumping, teleporting, and huge techniques. These games are far from deep, but the fun and stylish nature of the previous Ninja Storm games holds up.

The demo focuses on story, putting you in the shoes of the Third Hokage in an epic, large scale battle against the evil Nine-Tailed Demon Fox. As I jumped from building to building, I got a great sense of the scale that CyberConnect2 is going for. Battles in previous entries have always been epic, and this is no exception. The animations and techniques looked beautiful in game, and the cinematics were just as awe inspiring. The whole set piece was complimented by an epic soundtrack that completely captured the tone they were going for with the battle. Veterans of the series will be familiar with the Secret Actions that can be completed during cut scenes that, if executed swiftly, unlock extra scenes at the end of the sequence.

After defeating the first foe, I was put in control of the Fourth Hokage, Minato, as he did battle with the mysterious villain Tobi. This battle controlled much like the standard battles in the series. Players have full control to move around the field as they please. They can charge chakra, throw projectiles, and attack with physical and special attacks when necessary. The dash-cancelling system that was implemented in Ultimate Ninja Storm: Generations is back, but aside from this the gameplay is largely the same as its previous entries. Overall the gameplay is solid, but the real treat came with the impressive visuals and extensive fan service.

Even though I enjoyed my time with the demo, I do hope that there are more additions to the formula to keep the game from getting stale. While the visuals and faithful retelling of the story will be more than enough to sustain me for an initial play-through, it would be nice to see the gameplay grab me as much as the rest of the game does. On the bright side, the roster is said to be their largest yet, boasting over 90 characters. This includes pretty much every important character from the series and of course a few surprises.

I look forward to experiencing the next entry in this series, and if you are a fan of the anime and/or manga, you should be too. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 will be released March 5 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. 




02/26/2013 at 02:14 PM

Strangely enough I remember this series from a long time ago as a kid! Idk, I really enjoyed it then, and recently got back into reading it (though its almost over). I picked up some of the games just because I thought the created universe was relatively creative, however I think I'd like to see more of an action adventure style game made out of this than another fighting game! 

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/26/2013 at 02:40 PM

Well, the story has an action/adventure vibe and lets you explore different villages and stuff, but I agree that they should take some new directions.


02/26/2013 at 02:54 PM

Exactly, While I think the game itself is intereting, and the fighting concepts are too, I believe there is so much to be creative with, making a more open world action adventure style game which allowed people to customize their characters would be great! Such a thing likely won't come out of EA, because EA has one of those "Anti-Creative Agreements" with their developers imo...

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/26/2013 at 02:55 PM

yeah, i felt the same way about the Budokai Tenkaichi series of DBZ games. Tenkaichi 3 was, in my opinion, the best DBZ game ever and all they needed to do was add things like character customization and stuff but nope...they just ruined it on the next gen platforms.


02/26/2013 at 04:58 PM

I quite intend to go undefeated in this game, just as I was in Storm 2 and Generations.


02/26/2013 at 06:21 PM

I played the demo, but there is only one 1-on-1 fight in it.  I really hope they tweak the instant substitution button in this new game.  That damn thing made Generations too easy for noobs.  


02/27/2013 at 03:17 AM

Too true, there were also unfair differences in the time it took to build up the gauge again as well.


02/27/2013 at 03:20 AM

Naruto games are like crack, I can't stop buying them, even the god awful ones on the PSP (except the ninja hero's series, they are pretty cool). I like the fact that you can only awakening once this time around and at any point during the fight, should mak Jinchuuriki easier foes.

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