Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

PlayStation 3
Release date:
November 4, 2008
Namco Bandai
1 - 2

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm

What anime stars do on their downtime.

Review by Andrew Calvin (Email)
January 6th 2009

Sporting a bright orange outfit, Naruto's audacious and at times downright obnoxious. Not the sort of behavior typical of a ninja. This ramen-loving rebel has a legendary (and extremely perverted) mentor and dreams of one day ruling his village. He balks at authority and regards the current village leader as Granny, a ballsy move for such an undeveloped ninja. But that's what we all love about Naruto. As a grown man, I'm not afraid to admit that I've watched the anime series for years, savoring the playful mix of humor, action, and outright tragedy as Naruto struggles with the immense power sealed within him.

Enter Ultimate Ninja Storm, a PlayStation 3 action game that features highlights from the first story arc and offers both a straight up versus mode and story oriented mission mode. Consider this game a best-of recap for fans or a great starting point for those new to the series. Though the action is top notch, it isn't deep in the same way as Street Fighter 2. This won't provide the sense of accomplishment that pulling off an extremely difficult combo will, but based on the varied age of the audience and the source material, it's a solid expansion of an already well-regarded manga and anime series.

Ultimate Ninja Storm won't replace more technical fighters such as Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix, but it's easily among the best console action games based on an anime

At its heart, Ultimate Ninja Storm is a one-on-one fighting game set in 3D environments with assist attacks and absolutely gorgeous cel-shaded animation. While some may criticize the overly simplistic control scheme, there is plenty of variety in how you build your team and approach each battle. Chakra (consider this your super meter) can be used to enhance nearly everything you do and will, later in the match, put characters into an awakened state, such a Naruto's Nine Tail Fox. Combat revolves around constantly recharging this chakra with the triangle button while balancing your main attacker and assist characters that come equipped with either combo or distance attacks. A basic strategy may consist of dashing in and starting a normal combo, calling in an assist to continue the combo, and then finishing with a special attack; another may be to play it safe and spam projectiles. Ultimate supers are unquestionably the most devastating attacks that, depending on the character, do an insane amount of damage. Take the Third Hokage in on point and land a super to see what I'm talking about.

To harvest all there is to offer in free battle mode, players will want to master ultimate mission mode. Here Naruto traverses his home village and takes on missions of various ranks—races, huge boss battles, training matches, and hide and seek quests, among others. The main incentive for completing quests is to unlock extra costumes and characters, filling out the roster to 25 selectable students and teachers. As a bonus, additional support characters are available free on PSN.

Ultimate Ninja Storm won't replace more technical fighters such as Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix, but it's easily among the best console action games based on an anime I've played this year (Bleach holds that title for the handhelds).

With a huge roster of characters, smooth animation, and simple yet rewarding battle engine, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm does the series justice and provides a hands-on way for fans to assemble their favorite teams and go at it. While I felt many of the story missions were tedious, fans may completely disagree and consider story mode another way to extend the Naruto experience. Lack of an online mode is a major blow. Once all the characters are unlocked, what's left to do but fight? Those without friends nearby may lose out on the main replay factor of Ultimate Ninja Storm.

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