Gaming My Way

21 Jun

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 Review (PS2)

I know Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 has been out for a few months, but I only got my hands on it recently. With that said, here goes.

To begin, this is a fun game, but it’s not on the level of games like Soul Calibur or the Super Smash Bros. series. For me, some of the appeal comes from the use of the Naruto license, as I’m a diehard fan of the series. However, ignoring that, the game is still pretty solid, if a bit on the simple side. However, playing it more shows there is some strategy and thinking to be done, it’s just a little difficult to find it at first. If you don’t find the strategy, you will lose to better players, which is a little frustrating until you pick up some of the nuance of the game.

Like previous games in the series, each player chooses a fighter, and then you go to fight on a variety of maps that have a foreground and background that can be moved between at will. Other than that, it’s straight 2d fighting goodness. Thankfully, they’ve seen fit to remove the analog stick twirling and button mashing from supers, keeping the ordered button presses as the default method of using them effectively. For those who liked the other methods, you can still choose to use them by selecting them while customizing your character. In addition, by doing significantly better than the attacker during the supers, a defender can actually stop a super from landing now. This is a nice touch, as I think supers are way too easy to land without this. They’re still moderately easy to land, as they should be, but now the defender at least has some chance of stopping it.

I really liked what they did with the story mode Hero’s History, in which they go over some of the highlights of the story from the show rather than every little bit of it. This is, of course, not ideal for people unfamiliar with the show or manga, but for fans of the series, it means we don’t have to sit through the slow parts again. Your mileage may vary on this point. It’s also nice that the Japanese voices are available in this installment. I much prefer the subbed version, though I don’t doubt there are many who still want English voiceovers. For those people, I also have good news. You will not hear one utterance of the phrase “Believe It!” In fact, before I thought to check if I could switch the voices, I played in English for awhile, and it was surprisingly good compared to the other games.

Also, for the most part, missions are way better than in previous installments. The requirements are much more skill based, rather than things like just hoping to see the ability to perform a screen switch come up. This movement towards skill over luck is much needed. Also, kawarimi’s are much easier to perform when you want to, making the missions that require them less of a pain.

However, I do have a complaint about Ultimate Contest, the game’s non-canon story mode. If you want to do everything, you’re going to have to play some truly irritating mini-games multiple times in order to do so. The worst offenders are by far the push-ups and squats that Guy and Lee challenge you to. Unfortunately, they’re also the games you’ll play the most. Luckily, they’re easier than the push-up game of last installment, but they’re still just as lackluster. Mini-games where you just repeatedly mash one button are not fun. Please, any developers out there, get this through your heads.

On a better note, the poses you’ll also go through with Guy and Lee are better. It’s a rhythm game in which you press buttons at the right time to mimic the ridiculous poses of Guy and Lee. Moderately amusing. Also, the tree climbing mini-game is decent, though some of the short branches seem to jump out at you without warning. These branches really need to be made more clear, as running into something because I can’t see it is irritating.

Finally, we have Tenten’s Target practice, by far the best of all the mini-games. It’s actually legitimately fun. Basically, targets pop up with a button on them. Pressing that button launches a shuriken at it. Then, there are targets dressed like allies, and hitting them lowers your score. You compete with Tenten for a high score, which is easy enough to do, but still quite fun.

Now, I’ve gone into these mini-games because, as I said before, to fully complete the game, you will play them multiple times. This detracts from the game a little for me, because only one of the mini-games is actually really fun to play. If they were completely optional, I wouldn’t mind so much.

Finally, let’s talk about the roster of fighters. This game has 42, and only two of them are filler. Basically, every major character before the three year jump is here, and there are even a few not so major and even truly minor characters as well. Also, characters’ ultimate forms have finally been integrated into the main character selection, so there’s no more clone characters cluttering character selection, such as having Nine-Tailed Naruto alongside Naruto. You can still select ultimate forms once you’ve unlocked all the characters if you wish, but at least they don’t register as separate characters anymore. One gripe I have about the ultimate forms is the unnecessary splash screens that come up after you’ve done your super to do the transformation though. There’s no need to see Curse Mark Mode II and similar names with a static picture on the screen. I just watched him transform in the cutscene, and it really kills the action to have the still screen come up before returning to play.

So, with all of that said, if you’re a fan of Naruto, pick this game up. If you aren’t, but you haven’t played the other games in the series, this one is the superior of the three, and isn’t a bad choice if you’re looking for a fighting game different from the norm.

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