One anime that I have always wanted to get into is Naruto. I’ve always thought that the character designs were awesome, and who doesn’t love the idea of young ninjas in training? Sadly I’ve never really had the time to give Naruto, either the anime or manga, a solid shot, and haven’t had a chance to try out the games. Back on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Bandai Namco released a number of Naruto fighting games, which were apparently pretty fun, over-the-top fighting games. Now, Bandai Namco has released the first three Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm games as remastered releases for current-gen consoles so fans of the originals can replay them, or new fans such as myself, can dive into them and experience some of Naruto’s early adventures for themselves.
The Trilogy consists of the first 3 Naruto games; Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst. It should be noted that this is also packaged physically as Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy and includes the fourth title as well, and all of the DLC, but the Trilogy is a digital only release, likely as an offering for those fans that already own Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 on current-gen systems.
The first game consists mostly of two modes; Ultimate Mission Mode and Free Battle Mode. Ultimate Mission is basically the story mode where you get to adventure with Naruto through a number of story-based missions and quests, and experience the early days of Naruto. This was my first experience with the game, and it was impressive to see the world of Naruto come to life. One thing I wished though was more availability of a practice mode, or some tutorials, as the game just dove right into some missions and in my very first fight I got completely destroyed fighting an opponent. I had to go into the in-game control lists to try and figure out my moves, combos, how to fill up my chakra to do the crazy moves, etc. My first fight took quite a bit of time to really nail things down, but once I got things down it was a lot more manageable. The story though is pretty cool, and there are some interesting places to go and people to chat with.
The other two games mostly follow this same formula, with a Mission Mode and Free Battle, and also Online Battle so you can play against other Naruto fans from around the world. The first one though had a better open world structure for its adventure, while the other two have a bit less adventuring and a more straightforward story mode, that merely takes you from point to point in the Naruto story. In some ways it’s a good thing, as it allows for a more traditional storytelling style. You can enjoy the story as you go from battle to battle, but I kind of liked the open world adventuring in the first game a bit more.
Regardless, there are some pretty great stories being told throughout the three games, and for just the story modes alone you will be getting plenty of bang for your buck. I’m unfamiliar with what’s happened in the anime and manga, but I really enjoyed the crazy battles as well as relationships that develop through the stories in the games. One of the highlights being the epic battle against Nine Tails at the beginning of the third game. At that point I had learned quite a bit about Naruto, and his companions and rivals, especially my personal favourite Sasuke, and was excited to see what new adventures they were about to take on. Additionally by the third game the roster is pretty sizeable, around eighty fighters, and it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out who you want to use, and who actually are stand out fighters and who is just chaff. Still, there are plenty of options and I’m sure that fans will love the amount of fighters they can pick from.
Visually, the remasters look pretty great. I remember seeing the games in action on last-gen systems, and the developers had done a pretty good job making the game look like the anime. With this remastered collection, the colors are fairly vibrant and crisp, and for the most part look really good on the current-gen systems. The voice work is also really well done, with the voice actors, both for main characters and minor roles, all really nailing their lines. Between the visuals and the voice work, I really felt like I was playing an anime, and I always wanted to play just a bit more to see where the stories were going. On occasion though, there were some weird frame rate issues, and loading times could really be brutal between scenes and fights. I’m not sure how they were on the last-gen versions, but the lengthy load times here seemed a little excessive.
The Naruto games at the core are fighting games, and the fighting engine is pretty good. You have some basic attacks, that can also be chained into combos, as well as special moves. You also have a chakra meter that can be filled up during the fights to unleash some fairly outlandish special attacks that can be pretty insane. Of course, there are blocks and counters that are available; however in the end sometimes I wish there were some more options as far as attacks and combos go. I know these games aren’t really traditional fighting games, but it would be nice to have more than a handful of combos available to you. Additionally, there are a number of quick time events that will occur during fights, which do help to keep you involved in the fight, and entertained. They really add to the cinematic feel of fights, and do help liven up the battles. There are also assorted mini-games and activities to do, most notably in the first game: things like foot races or races through forests and such. These help to flesh out the games and make for some fun, albeit sometimes frustrating, experiences.
When all is said and done, if you’re a Naruto fan, or are somewhat interested in the series, then the Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is well worth picking up. The amount of content story-wise is pretty staggering, and being able to go back and relive some great moments is worth the trip for anyone interested in Naruto. In addition, the various battle modes and numerous characters will keep anyone busy for quite a while with a massive set of choices to pick from. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is well worth it for fans who want to revisit the last-gen releases, or for new fans wanting to dive into the young ninja’s exciting past.
A PlayStation 4 Review copy of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy was provided by Bandai Namco for the purpose of this review.