Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 review

  • An amazing story mode experience
  • Beautiful cel-shaded visuals and animations
  • Simple, fun combat mechanics
  • Pointless quests
  • Pointless collectibles
  • Combat can seem shallow at first

Whether you follow anime or not, chances are you’ve heard of a spiky-haired ninja named Naruto. What first started out as a weekly manga in Japan has grown into a worldwide franchise spanning television, merchandise, and video games. The latest of these products is Cyberconnect2’s Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, a fighting game that goes beyond mere fan service and provides an engrossing adventure mode and impressive combat mechanics anyone can appreciate.

Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 takes you through some of the most recent events in Naruto Shippuden, retelling pivotal moments in the TV show through its single-player Adventure mode. The story is conveyed in chapters that manage to cover the anime’s various storylines and battles into a condensed format. Chapters combine cutscenes, fights, and exploratory segments together to give the game structure and make its anime-driven narrative easy to follow.

"A fighting game that goes beyond mere fan service..."

Even if you’ve never seen the show, you’ll gain enough backstory through the game’s cutscenes and flashbacks to have you sympathizing with Naruto and his struggle to conquer the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox sealed inside his body. On the other hand, fans of the show will appreciate how faithful Adventure mode stays to the anime with cutscenes that re-create the feeling of watching an actual episode. Its presentation is spot-on and features gorgeous cel-shaded artwork and a talented cast of Japanese, and, yes, even English, voice actors. While at times these cutscenes can drag and take as long as 10 minutes each, they serve to build tension for battles that are well worth the wait.

Story battles involve facing off against friendly rivals, key villains, and even giant demons that take up the entire screen. You can purchase items such as health potions or explosive bombs to aid you in combat, and at times you can even make “Ultimate Decisions” to choose how a fight will play out. These light RPG touches don’t affect the outcome of the story, but allow you to enjoy the game at your desired difficulty. Some of the more crucial battles are broken up into parts that include short cutscenes requiring you to input button combinations quickly for added damage and bonus effects. These interactive cutscenes are blended seamlessly into fights and let you experience the cinematic quality of Naruto’s most dramatic encounters.

"While at times these cutscenes can drag and take as long as 10 minutes each, they serve to build tension for battles that are well worth the wait."

Adventure mode also includes some light exploratory elements that give you a reason to revisit Naruto's world. Once you finish the game’s 10-hour story, you’ll have the freedom to explore neighboring villages, build relationships with Naruto’s friends by battling them, or even accept quests. These elements make it hard to distinguish the game from an adventure title or RPG at times, but they’re not as substantial as you’d expect and merely provide you with a way to replay old battles and unlock trivial collectibles. The items you’ll gain from fetch quests, for example, can only be used in Adventure mode, making them even less important. You’ll also pick up endless amounts of money that holds no purpose except to purchase profile titles and icons to display during online battles.

In contrast, the game’s combat system provides a surprising level of depth and is an improvement on Cyberconnect2’s past titles. In addition to a projectile, jump, and block button, you can pull off fancy combos by simply tapping the main attack button--an effortless way to play but one that can also feel like button-mashing. Luckily, combat is enhanced by a chakra meter, which essentially boosts the power of your basic moves and lets you cancel an attack, link it to another, or dash right up to your opponent and start pummeling away. Chakra also lets you pull off character-specific special moves like fireballs, sand burials, and other flashy displays of ninjutsu. You can also use it to enter Awakening mode if you’re health is low enough, increasing your moveset and even transforming some characters into giant monsters. Of course, your chakra depletes the more you use it, so knowing when to use it and when to recharge it adds a strategic element to battles.

"Cyberconnect2 has taken what made its past two Naruto games so good and brought them together into a fighter that surpasses its predecessors."

The game includes an impressive roster of over 80 characters to choose from that specialize in different types of ninjutsu and battle styles. No character fights the same as the other, and despite including several different costume swaps of Naruto and Sasuke, each one comes with a unique arsenal of moves, ninjutsu, and items to use in battle. In addition to single matches, you can also fight with up to two computer-controlled allies that can be called on for support, done by way of a simple press of a button. Team battles are not only more chaotic, but they also elevate this seemingly basic fighting system by adding in more ways to exploit your enemy’s actions.

Cyberconnect2 has taken what made its past two Naruto games so good and brought them together into a fighter that surpasses its predecessors. Its impressive Adventure mode stays true to the anime and creates an experience typically not found in a fighting game. Its enhanced combat system, coupled with its large roster of characters, makes for fun offline and online matches that will keep you exploring the ins and outs of each character. But don’t worry if you can’t correctly pronounce Naruto’s name either, because this is a game anyone can enjoy.

This game was reviewed on PlayStation 3

Want to play as all of the characters? Check out our Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Character Unlocks Guide.

More Info

Release date: Mar 05 2013 - PS3, Xbox 360 (US)
Mar 08 2013 - PS3, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Namco Bandai
Franchise: Naruto
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Violence


  • LEGOMatrix - March 6, 2013 6:02 a.m.

    I just played through the demo for this and it seemed really awesome. They really seem to have captured the cartoon and if the small original section featured in the demo is any indicator they are not just going to be recreating scenes from the show. These games tend to take ages to drop in price though, and I won't pay £40 for it. I will get it eventually though.
  • ccdeal3 - March 6, 2013 5:57 a.m.

    very good website: ===== ===== The website wholesale for many kinds of fashion shoes, like the nike, jordan, prada, also including the jeans, shirts, bags, hat and the decorations. WE ACCEPT CREDIT CARD /WESTERN UNION PAYMENT YOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!!
  • ObliqueZombie - March 5, 2013 9:18 p.m.

    I've always loved the animations in these games. The fighting was a blast, too. In fact, I remember REALLY liking one of the fighting games on the GameCube. Might have to rekindle my Naruto for this.
  • Frieza - March 5, 2013 3:21 p.m.

    Glad this game did well. Probably wont pick it up though. How far does the story go in regards to the manga? I know the manga has less than a year left in it, so I was planning on waiting until the series was over to get a Naruto game.
  • artcellrox - March 5, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    From what I can see, it won't go past where the anime is, which is around episode 302 of Shippuden (chapter 559 of the manga) Currently, the manga is at 622. OT: I'm actually pleasantly surprised this got even close to an 80% score from a reviewer. This is gonna be good, especially to a fan of the series (game and franchise).
  • Cyberninja - March 5, 2013 2:11 p.m.

    I just received my special edition today and after class tonight and the new DmC dlc I can't wait to play it.
  • shawksta - March 5, 2013 11:12 a.m.

    AWESOME, So it mixed the best of 2 and Generations? Even better, Generations was nice but the Older characters were otherwise better versions and not enough differences with the younger versions like DBZ Tenkaichi 3.
  • BladedFalcon - March 5, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    People still care about Naruto? Huh... Anyway, my distaste for the franchise aside, glad to see the game seems to be good, and hopefully it'll do well, mainly because I like the developer. Cyberconnect2 doesn't get nearly enough praise I think, and Asura's wrath that prove they know what they are doing in terms of combat mechanics and just balls out, over the top action scenes.
  • shawksta - March 5, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    Frankly Naruto, unlike a certain OTHER series, can keep their games constantly good, especially one of the reasons being the animation and action.
  • BladedFalcon - March 5, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    Yes, but I thought that at this point, people had stopped caring about it, pretty much like they had stopped caring about bleach, or most other throwaway action anime series.
  • shawksta - March 5, 2013 11:54 a.m.

    I agree its easy to think that but Naruto is apparently a special case where its still going on and strong. One thing that made people keep with it is the fact that English Naruto stopped that doing irritating "BELIEVE IT"
  • taokaka - March 5, 2013 4:22 p.m.

    I'd stopped caring about the show 300 episodes ago but I still picked up generations because I felt somewhat nostalgic for the days before naruto's writer had decided to screw fans over by constantly stringing them along for years without any closure for their beloved series in sight. I was completely in the dark as to what was happening but so what, as you said cyberconnect are great developers and it would have been a shame to completely miss this franchise.
  • ObliqueZombie - March 5, 2013 9:18 p.m.

    If read Manga's at all, Naruto is one of the best. As far as anime goes, I can't stand an episode of NOTHING while it builds the action up for the next episode. The manga keeps the action and drama flowing to unprecedented heights. Great series.
  • taokaka - March 6, 2013 12:55 a.m.

    Well said. Shonen anime tends to just drag on and on, each half an hour episode only has about five minutes of actual content while the manga keeps everything moving along. With all the long running shonen anime I've watched I've given up on them so many times while the manga keeps me coming back.
  • pl4y4h - March 5, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    school work almost made me forget about this. Let's see how balanced multiplayer is.
  • wadesmit - March 6, 2013 1:32 a.m.

    Oh god. I'm getting to that point where I'm one of the older people on the site. I don't have schoolwork to talk about... and that, unexpectedly, makes me so sad. YAY FOR LIFE
  • PatHan-bHai - March 6, 2013 8:09 a.m.

  • lanmanna - March 6, 2013 3:49 p.m.

    Daaaaang! How old are you, pops?
  • wadesmit - March 6, 2013 9:51 p.m.

    Actually... pretty young. I just miss school. And my job sucks all joy and unexpectedness from my life. I /feel/ incredibly old.

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