This is a really difficult game for me to review and I highly recommend (as always) that you seek out additional reviews from gamers who are familiar with Naruto in general and the previous games in this series. Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (NUNS3) is not a difficult game or one that is hard to control, it’s actually quite accessible, but it’s so chock full of story and details that it’s simply overwhelming unless you’re already very familiar with the Naruto universe. Otherwise, you’ll find all of the story and details — and there is a ton of this — either really boring, or impossible to fully appreciate, neither of which equates to a good time.
Still, while this game isn’t for me, there is certainly a niche audience that does eat this stuff up. I can appreciate that CyberConnect2 and Namco Bandai have focused on them, although from browsing some user reviews, it seems that NUNS3 does not follow the story of the manga very closely. Whether that’s an issue for you is something you’ll have to decide, but for me, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the events anyway. And while you are able to skip the lengthy story pieces, that only further reduces the value of playing the game anyway, so it’s a sort of catch-22 for folks like me who aren’t invested in the story and its characters. While not quite the same as playing a Japanese game in Japanese, I felt lost in NUNS3, but still found things to appreciate.
The first of these is actually the smooth, colorful graphics. The animations, as with previous Naruto games I have dabbled in, are fluid and well done. With well over fifty playable characters (and almost as many stages), all of which having various jutsus and chakras, that’s quite a lot of animation work. Additionally, there are several huge boss battles, one of which is immediately at the beginning of the Ultimate Adventure mode. This boss fight in particular is massive in scale, and I was impressed with the presentation.
Ultimate Adventure is the primary offline mode and puts players in the heart of the Naruto storyline, beginning with the assault on Hidden Leaf Village. I came to appreciate the depth and the Ultimate Decisions gameplay element that basically gives players a choice that can change the direction of the story. Ultimate Decisions have both Legend and Hero routes. Points are earned for either side if you choose that path and win the following battle. These points are used to acquire more ninja gear. The replay value with Ultimate Decisions could be enticing to hardcore fans. I also like that it’s more than just one battle after another; players can free roam around areas, interact with NPCs, and take in a lot more of the story if they choose to.
The Free Battle mode contains three additional modes: Vs Battle, Tournament, and Practice. The tournaments can be either four or eight player tourneys. As with the Vs Battles, you can choose to fight 1 v 1 or have a dual battle. Finally, an online mode that I briefly looked at allows you to challenge the network for supremacy.
With that, let’s get to the summary…