Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 review 
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Darryn Bonthuys
March 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is ah dammit I ran out of space already with my opening blurb. Believe it!

I hear you. You’re a fan of Naruto. At some point in your life, you’ve taken a pen and drawn whiskers on your face, and thrown a few Jutsu hand-signs that got you attacked by a mob of angry deaf bikers who thought that you were swearing at them.

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Hell, maybe you’ve even got a ninja headband, or a few shuriken lying around waiting to be confiscated by the local authorities. What’s the point of all this then? Simply put, you’re the kind of guy who would easily devour this game.

And why not? On the surface, it’s a Konoha yellow flash of some great-looking visuals, plenty of characters and a storyline that stretches through the chapters that the manga source material and anime series have been pushing out.

It’s also one of the worst sequels in the history of the decade-old franchise.

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Deja Vu No Jutsu

Picking up after the events of the massive fight between Naruto and the Akatsuki ninja Pain, the latest Naruto game takes players from the formulation of the Shinobi Alliance, through to the taming of the Kyuubi tailed beast, and the massive Fourth Ninja World War that primary Antagonist Madara Uchiha wages in an attempt to gain control of the tailed beasts.

If you’re scratching your heads right now, the story is basically 80 000 ninjas made up of colourful solo characters versus bad guy McNasty-pants and his army of cloned plant-people foot soldiers and immortal zombie shinobi.

I believe in Japan, they call that Tuesday.

NUNS3 (4)

So, how does the game play on the surface then, compared to the previous sequel which was clearly just phoning it in when it was released last year? Pretty much exactly the same, and that’s a damn shame. The Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games have always been about giving players the ability to experience one-on-one combat as one of the unique characters of that world, with a move-set that is shared between characters, who are separated in technique only by their personal secret ninja arts.

But if you happen to have a copy of Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 lying around when you buy this one, you’re about to feel ripped off. Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 must be one of the most eco-friendly games on the market right now, because the recycling of year-old character models and animations is astounding.

NUNS3 (8)

I’m not even joking here. I popped in the discs of the two games, and found there to be little to no variation on many of the character models. Exact same attacks, exact same movements and animations. That’s not just lazy, it’s also disgusting.

It’s still also annoying that the ratio of characters who actually have different combat techniques compared to the usual fisticuffs bunch are severely limited in design. Puppeteers had a tricky, but interesting mode of play that required you to keep an eye on two fighters at the same time, but some how, CyberConnect 2 has nerfed this character type and made them even more terrible to use in combat.

Ranged fighters hurl all manner of projectiles at you while keeping out of fists reach, while…Oh wait, that’s it really. So much for that example.

NUNS3 (5)

Combat has had very little tweaking done to it. It’s still all about the timing, as triggering a substitution jutsu to teleport out of harm’s way and into position to charge up enough chakra to deliver a counter-blow. Combos are still basic and of the button-mashing variety, secret ninja arts are limited to two per character and everyone has access to ninja tools such as explosive tags and ability boosters that don’t really serve much purpose.

But I’ll give Cyber Connect 2 a high-five for some of the animation sequences that play for the ultimate jutsu finishes. They’re gorgeous, flowing and pure violence porn…but with a classy touch. I just wish that they hadn’t focused so damn much on them, to the detriment of the gameplay.

Battle still feature moments where you can summon some tag-team assistance from comrades, depending on their particular skill. Use them enough in a fight, and you’ll build up a gauge that will allow them to lend you a hand during combos and attacks, without you needing to call on them for backup.

One aspect that has changed though, are Awakenings. While the vast majority of theses last-minute, low-health salvation transformation techniques still require characters to be on their last legs before they can be activated, a number of characters can now use them whenever they want in battle, but with the drawback that their chakra gauges will be depleted and reduced after the effect wears off.

NUNS3 (7)

But in return, Awakenings still offer a great deal of power. For some characters, these include increased attack damage and range, as well as instant jutsu techniques at the press of a shoulder button. The latest Naruto game might feel daunting for newcomers, but I’ll give it credit where its due, and admit that the learning curve for this game still sits at Genin level so far. For veterans, they’ll get back into the swing of things in no time.

So how about that story then? That should at least count for something, right? After all, minus the ridiculous anime and the fact that the manga comics break up climatic fights for pointless origin stories, it’s still a pretty gripping tale of good versus evil, amirite?

NUNS3 (3)

Welcome to the version of that story that will require some Edo Tensai no jutsu to get through then. Graphically speaking, nothing much has changed with this installment of the game. However, it’s the animation of those visuals that have improved dramatically.

They’re hip, vibrant and energetic cut-scenes between battles, and they’re also rarer than an Uchiha who hasn’t activated emo no jutsu. While there are some phenomenal animations that put the anime to shame, moments that extend into massive gameplay events as well, they’re separated by moments of  exposition that go on and on and on and on…

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It’s just posing no Jutsu, with characters rambling on making the story a contrived and preachy effort,  hamstrung as they are by several edits which water down several events and make them have less of an impact. Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 may have been a lacklustre experience last year, but at least Cyber Connect 2 had the decency to go and stay close to the storyline.

Toss in a sandbox mode which serves no real purpose other than to be linear bridges to cut-scenes, and you’ve got a bland product overall. And then we’ve got the return of boss fights, which for the most part, still fail to live up the standard set in the first game.

41318Boss-Battle-Naruto-vs-Sasuke-Battle-03

They’re few and far between, with a majority of them focusing on taking down or taming the nine-tailed demon fox that is a catalyst for many of the events in the history of the series. Make no mistake, on a visual level, they’re absolutely fantastic, but combined with the tedious story structure that drags on for hours and the low level of input needed makes for a disappointing experience.

Not to mention that the shortcuts that affect the bulk of the story, extend to the actual ending itself; something which has yet to play out in the actual source material. Prepare yourself for a whopper of a lukewarm ending, Naruto fans.

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Which is all the more disheartening when after ten or so hours of gameplay and cut-scenes, you find yourself in a King Kong sized battle where you have to smack down a gigantic demon-stealing statue that throws lightning at you; or control the five greatest shinobi leaders in a fight to end all fights against an immortal legend who just happens to be able to summon asteroids and wrap himself in a  gigantic demonic aura monster of mass destruction.

Again, Japanese Tuesday.

Interspersed with these moments and vanilla fights, are fighting sequences that pit your fighter against many. Think Tekken Force, but with ninjutsu. I like the idea of this extension to the game mechanics, but it can feel clumsy and chaotic, and is obviously in need of some fine-tuning. It’s also an event that only happens at most about four times throughout the whole game.

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As clumsy as it is, I liked that bit of experimentation. But that’s just what it was, as the segments you play through in this mode, feel like beta appetisers for the main event. I’ll admit, that the gameplay in the final battle of the game takes all these factors present and condenses them into one epic showdown, but at the same time, it’s as if Cyber Connect 2 forgot to structure an entire game around this event.

I also don’t see much of a reason to revisit these events once the end credits roll. That kind of replayability is usually reserved for the free battle mode. Pickings are light here once again, with players having access to vanilla modes, practice sessions and customizable tournaments.

41313Boss-Battle-Naruto-vs-Sasuke-01

Online still has some glaring issues with lag, although I will admit that I was playing on a 2 meg uncapped line. But compared to my experiences last year with the first sequel in which I played online with a 1 meg line, I can barely notice a difference in quality between the two.

At the end of the day, the third Ultimate Storm game is one flashy title in the series, albeit one without any real substance at all. Gameplay development has come to a standstill, and somewhere along the path, Cyber Connect 2 has lost their ninja way, putting too much effort into polishing up the same turd from last year.

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Conclusion

After a stellar effort with the second Ultimate Storm game in 2010, Cyber Connect hasn't just gone downhill with a second lackluster sequel. They've gone into terminal velocity with a game that puts visuals ahead of gameplay, something that they can't even manage to pull off properly.
5.5

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 was reviewed by Darryn Bonthuys on a Xbox 360

Because he's the writer that Lazygamer deserves, but not the one it actually needs right now.So we'll hunt him. Because he can't take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a loud-mouthed journalist, a watchful procrastinator. A dork knight.

  • Admiral Chief Erwin

    Dafuq I this?

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Dafuq you that…?

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        Dafuq I thee?

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Dafug ye be!

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Dafuq thine are?

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Dafuque je suis?

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Dafok ek is?

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Dafok wie waar?

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Dafizzle mo jizzle?

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Aw man! I don’t wana hear about your jizzle!

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            15/Love Banana Jim to serve.

            Dafok waar nou?

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Dafok daar heen?

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Dafok dit reen?

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Dafok dit koud?

  • http://www.lazygamer.co Gavin Mannion

    (6+6.9+5.9)/ 3 doesn’t equal 5.5

    Yes we know, it’s not an average… but we are thinking about tinkering with our review format to stop these comments

    • Deon Steyn

      What comments? Where? How dare they.

    • Sir Captain Rincethis

      Oh Gavin! You kidder, the last time I checked that equalled ahhh, erm, ahhh. Equalled square!

      • Deon Steyn

        Add a category called “fun factor” or “Geoffrey’s tolerance meter” then hand it a 3.2

        (6+6.9+5.9+3.2)/4=5.5

    • Twakkie

      Ja rather have a “Average” which takes the average of all scores and use the current “Value” score too bring the average down if you feel the other elements within the review is too high.

      • Sir Captain Rincethis

        I’m still not sure, if a game fails in one area, but is awesome in another?

        • Twakkie

          The best way to tackle a situation like this is to use a “weighted mean system”. For instance if “Design” is more important than “Gameplay” you could weigh it more, say 60% to Design and 40% to Gameplay. This way, when calculating the score, the end result will be more determined by the Design than the Gameplay. The problem with such a system is that not everyone see Gameplay less important than design. In the end a review score is ultimately flawed no matter what system you adopt to calculate the average because it is a opinion.

          • Sir Captain Rincethis

            Agreed. Sooo, I propose this, in future, if I say it rules, you… WILL HUMBLY ACCEPT MY JUDGEMENT AND SAY YES!

          • Twakkie

            NEVER!!!! I resit thee until my last breath!!

          • Sir Captain Rincethis

            *puts more pressure on stepping foot*

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            I like that, but then you need to have extremely good reasons why Design has to trump Gameplay or vice versa. I would actually weigh Graphics the lowest, but then I’m an old school gamer and superficial fluff has no meaning to me.

          • Twakkie

            I also would weigh graphics one of the lowest. The thing is, if you report the weight as well as the score it is possible for someone with a different opinion to go and use your scores and change the weight of that score to fit his “vision” of a good game. Lets use Graphics as an example. Say the reviewer sees graphics as 20% of what makes a game good but the overall graphics of the game is say 8/10. The review score would be less affected by graphics. But now Jannie comes along and he wants a game which fills the void of human contact, thus Graphics will be 90% of the deciding factor if he buys the game or not. So he takes the 8/10 score, use his weight for that category and then calculates his own average.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            I definitely like this idea, and you always post the weightings for your scores (in an information box). Nice!

          • Twakkie

            Ja then people can understand your reasoning for overall score as well as look into the reviewers mind as to what he sees as a good game.

      • http://www.lazygamer.co Gavin Mannion

        It doesn’t work unless we add in tons of other measurements like originality, fun factor, etc…

        • Twakkie

          I understand, but it all depends on how much you want to micro manage to scores. As a reviewer you could have various measurements but only report the overall score for everything under say “Gameplay” which might include sub-measurements such fun, animation etc etc. You dont report these sub-measurements but they do affect the overall “Gameplay” criteria. Just a suggestion ;)

    • matthurstrsa

      Just take away the total? So have gameplay, design and value, leave out the total, then say whether its excellent, above average, mediocre or below average. Excellent= “Hope you pre-ordered this”, Above average = “buy it once you’re sure there aren’t any major issues in the release version but buy it quick”, mediocre = “If you’re a big fan of this, pick it up a bit later when the price drop” and below average = “If you’re stranded on a desert island and natives are threatening to eat you, private parts first, unless you play this game, rather kiss your jollies goodbye”.

      • http://www.lazygamer.co Gavin Mannion

        The total has to stay, a reviewer has to make a stand and put his entire thought pattern into a number that will then be used to measure a title. It’s the hard part of the job

        • matthurstrsa

          I don’t think there has to be a number, since his feelings are pretty clear throughout the review, but I understand what you’re saying. I don’t have a problem with your review system though, there are too many factors that make a game what it is to list them all (but they would be included in the final number) so the total can never just be an average of 3 things (like design, gameplay and value, although these are probably the most important).

          Pros and cons list, then a final score? I’m just throwing out ideas here, I don’t think you’ll ever please everybody and I quite like the current review system.

        • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

          Can’t you just give your pros and cons in each category followed by a total score? the score not being influenced by numbers of each category but a numerical value representing your overall experience with the game. maybe use icons in each category. red lazygamer faces for negatives and yellow ones for positives.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Can we have a dedicated thread/post/article that allows for the discussion of the Future of Review Scores at Lazygamer?

          The only reason I ask is because it’s getting a little weird to have the same discussions after every single review. It’s also a little insulting to the poor guys who slaved hours to bring us their reviews and then we don’t even discuss the games or their reviews…. If I was Brenda, Yolanda or even Geoff (never GEOFF), I’d be peeved. You spend an evening working on your piece and these okes don’t even notice the awesomeness of your prose… the semi-illiterate buffoons… Instead they’re arguing about scores.

          I’d drop reviewing as a career and become a politician… YEAH! A POLITICIAN!!

          Banana Jim, LazyGamer’s insufferable Guru of Gaming!

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      You guys need the Jim Lenoir extreme-0-matic fun-meter. It’s a straw, sitting in a glass of coke. If a game is awesome, the straw is full. If the game sucks, the straw is empty. If the game is average, the straw is half-empty.

      For $9.99, you can own an authentic Jim Lenoir fun-meter. If you pay an additional $10, you will get a commemorative bottle of Pepsi or coca cola or even Iron Brew, signed by the Guru of gaming, himself… Banana Jim.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    “It’s also one of the worst sequels in the history of the decade-old franchise.”

    reading that made me very sad

  • SSJKB

    This review is sooo full of fail. I have the game and i think its awesome. i could list a whole bunch of points that this review twisted to make it look bad, but im not gonna waste my time… lazygamer, i am dissapoint.

    • Major Commodore 64 Darryn B

      Hey, if you have a counterpoint to make, go for it! Opinions are welcome here. I’ve got the entire series so far, but I’ve been bitterly disappointed with this latest effort.

      • http://www.facebook.com/illuchne.mancera Illuchne Mancera

        I too have the entire series, except of course this one. You could have given it a -1 and I’d still go out and get it lol

        • Major Commodore 64 Darryn B

          “I’m not buying this game because it’s the same AND OHMAWGAWD IS THAT A PROPER PLAYABLE SAGE MODE NARUTO SKIN MUST BUY!”

    • Guest

      Just… wow

      • Sir Captain Rincethis

        Ya, my thoughts too. I love telling Darryn he’s a dick, but I usually have a REASON… ;)

        • http://www.facebook.com/illuchne.mancera Illuchne Mancera

          you need a reason?

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      I think it would help your case if you actually said why you disagreed with Brenda. We’re free to have differing opinions, but you have to defend your stance with a good argument. And, I might actually agree with you, and then we can gang up on him, and show him who’s really the Boss Beard.

      Just saying, “I disagree, because you’re dumb”, leaves us nowhere. Now, saying “I disagree, and here are the reasons…etc. etc.”.

      That would get a thumbs up from me.

      Banana Jim!

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        Dude, I couldn’t agree more. Same goes for the random cowardly downvotes with no response as to why. I’d much rather have a debate with someone over something than be told I’m wrong and stupid with no backing statements.

    • SSJKB

      seeing as im getting some feedback, i’ll elaborate on my point of view as soon as i get a gap.

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        Awesomesauce, looking forward to it. We’re either ganging up on Brenda as a duo of awesome or I’ll say…”This SSJKB… I do not know him” :P

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  • Blackhawk

    “I believe in Japan, they call that Tuesday.”

    Pure WIN, right there!

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    Did they just re-release last year’s game? I mean this is so weird. I could have sworn I played this exact same game last year.

  • OVG

    It looks like ASURAS Wrath shits on this but it will still sell a million more.

    I have never watched a single episode of this stuff. Why? I dont know, probably to old. But I fell in love with Dragon Quest 8 Return of the cursed King. So I can see how people are transfixed with all of the bright colours. But it still reminds me of a Cereal Advert for some reason.

    • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

      ahh … Dragon quest 8 … freaking love Chubby ol Yangus

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Naruto is surprisingly good. The manga (comic) is hilarious, and the anime retains some of that humour in animation… which is very rare. I haven’t watched all 100 000 000 episodes, but what I’ve seen actually kept me entertained.

      • OVG

        Is it a kids version of The Fist of the North Star? Can adults enjoy it?

        P.S. I stopped taking LSD back when disco lights turned me on :p

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Yeah, my mom enjoys it. It’s sillier than First of the North Star, and probably more akin to Dragon Ball Z, but unlike Goku’s magical adventure, it’s got a more robust story.

        • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

          lol kids version of fist of the north star??is that even possible. by kid you probably mean 30 year old male. nothing can be a kid version of fist of the north star

  • OVG

    Now that LG is on Metacritic its even more important not to come across as a Flamebait site like the Shit Heads who give a game 5/10 while every other site around the world has a 9/10.

    Value (Game length), Graphics (Polished or Rush job), Sound (Voovooleza or EA), FUN (Yes or No)

    No numbers needed for the breakdown, like Kotaku. Then just a single number needed for the overall score, no decimals required.

    5/10… But average in this day and age is a 8 ;)

  • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

    as a die-hard fanboy…yes I love Naruto like scooby doo loves scooby snacks. but man I feel like I’m playing Storm 2 and generations all over again and I think this game is getting Tenkaichi Syndrome … such a shame, CyberConnect had a fantastic game. but it is really fun though(Fan Boy in me talking)

    • Major Commodore 64 Darryn B

      This was actually something that had me thinking. If you’ve never played a Naruto game before, then this one is ok for a beginner. But compared to previous versions, that fans shelled out cash for, it’s a slap in the face. And that’s how I reviewed it. As a fan.

      • http://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX umar bastra

        And it’s completely understandable why you gave it that score. If you have never played it before it’s actually a good game. But this game is kind of cashing in on the fans and DBZ did the same things … I’ve even cashed out money on the psp games game as well … but I think Storm 3 made me realize that they starting to milk us fans now and well, like you said, it’s a slap in the face, a huge one at that. Hopefully they can bring it back because I think the Cyberconnect2 has huge potential. why not make an open world naruto game with storm fighting mechanics and RPG systems. Build your Own village maybe and choose a path in the Ninja War. create your own Jutsu. Design your own Headband…All I can do is dream

        • Kei

          recycled sprites and move lists were always what you were going to get when you have a roster of over 70 characters. The real robbery is that fact they put characters in the game like the seven swordsmen and the past Kage but you cant play with them. Instead they give you bullshit like eight versions of the same character. Also no DLC’s? no sense at all. This game is for fans who love Naruto but all they’ve ripped us off.

  • https://twitter.com/jGLZA_b00 jGLZA

    Pretty much what i would have guessed. Not much has changed from the last game.
    Fair and accurate review.

  • Jordan Green

    I couldn’t agree with this review more. except one thing its a more 6/10 for me, not much difference, just putting it out there.

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