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Should you play this? Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst Review

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When you read a review of a game, you’re intending to see what other people think about it, who can put their opinions well into words, are experienced in the medium, and perhaps most importantly have taken the risk of time investment and money into the game. You want to know, “Is this worth my time? My money? Is this something I want to play?” Or perhaps you’re just curious, want to see where the game series has gone but don’t intend on playing it. Maybe you don’t have the time, or just don’t want to spend the time.

Whatever reason, this review goes beyond critiquing the game. It tells you whether or not you should play the game, based on the reasons and details given, as well as your preferences – such as what type of fan you are of the brand name, or if you aren’t at all. Of course you can always feel contrary, and at worst, you’ll come away with some insight about the game. There is neither, or at least rarely, a whole black or white to it. There can be sufficient reason not to play a game, an overwhelmingly sufficient reason not to, or whatever other variable therein. To elaborate, there are almost always good aspects to a game, and also almost always bad aspects to a game. There is no game yet known to be perfect, just as no story, or no movie can be perfect, depending how you look at it at least. Some gamers, as well, will feel differently about a game depending on their preferences, and will be willing to overlook faults or lack of features in a game.

Release and Background

The adventure fighting game, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 was released in March 2013 in North America and Europe, and April 2013 in Japan for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Then this game was re-released as essentially a revamped edition in October of 2013, adding the Windows PC for the available platforms, under the full and proper title of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst. Numerous features were added to the game in this re-release, some of which were alluded to or advertised prior to the original release, embellishing it to a standard that honestly should have been there to begin with. Costumes obtainable from DLCs (Downloadable Content) were packaged in, some graphics were adjusted, another chapter of the campaign was added, and a Challenge Mode was made. Most integral, perhaps, was the addition of the Ultimate Decision mechanic in the story campaign that lets you choose what part of the story is focused on in a fight. It is claimed to be something different, to make a great choice and influence the story, but it truly only influences the style of the fight and where and what the flashbacks go to.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 was developed by CyberConnect 2 and published by Namco Bandai, as has the entire Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series been, crossing multiple platforms from PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and to those aforementioned. However this combat game series is based entirely on the widely popular manga and anime Naruto, both of which are still ongoing. This series is penned and drawn by the mangaka Masashi Kishimoto.

The manga series first began in 1999 in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan and has reached almost 70 volumes, totaling hundreds of chapters. The manga series is still presently being serialized in the magazine with weekly chapters, and is actually what the anime and the game series are following, and so the most live and current story derives from the manga, though since it is released in Weekly Shonen Jump it is in Japanese. There is a considerable delay with official manga volume releases in English unfortunately.

As the manga and story of Naruto has continued through the several years, the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja video game series has released several installments, matching different periods in the manga’s story. Persistently this game series has tried to keep up, and mirror the current events in the manga, almost akin to a video game release of a movie coinciding with the movie’s release. There are fourteen games in the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series, which is an evidently quick release cycle, uncommon for high profile games, and doubly so for a developer studio that does not have employees numbering in the thousands (aka Ubisoft at 9,200 versus the sub 200 of CyberConnect2).

Surely this was intentional that this has the result of taking advantage of the manga’s present popularity, its sales having climbed past a hundred million. Ever fresh in the public’s mind, people are eager to delve deeper into the world of Naruto, with little question as to the state or quality of the newest installment to the game series. These rapid releases have kept the games more current to the storyline of the manga, but have the consequence of overlapping story and marginalized improvements – even differences - game to game.

The core of the matter is that the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja game series, and specifically Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst, appears to ride in the wake of the manga’s popularity, does not attempt to stand on its own, and thus is lackluster in features, gameplay, and content. Without the recognized, renowned brand name of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, it is possible that this game series would have been overlooked as a whole, and not achieved the long list of installments it has put out from lack of revenue or sales. But precisely because the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja game series is set into the world of Naruto, this may immediately change the experience and enjoyment for a gamer. The Naruto series is so old, nearly fifteen years that it can be steeped in the sense of nostalgia for some gamers.

What a name

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst. That title is long winded isn’t it? Corny even? Possibly the most convoluted - or intricate depending on your tastes - out of all the games in this series. It is as if they just tried to not be taken seriously, but despite how that might seem to be it likely is not the case. There is reasoning behind it though. The lengthy name is like a lineage. The Naruto mangaka, which the Naruto story originates from, has been ongoing for over ten years. During that stretch, video games have been continually released for the series, and not just by one studio. Naturally, they keep naming them something different. And some of those studios stop developing more games for the Naruto series, whether from the studio closing or merely deciding not to. To give familiarity to the video game series, studios releasing additional games for the Naruto series adopt that previous title, and then add onto it. That is more directly the reason for the Dragon Ball Z games though, as Budokai was from another studio, and then Budokai Tenkaichi was released.

The brand name title itself was intended to stand by itself, as Naruto or the second half of the manga: Naruto Shippuden. Adding this as the preface title of a video game tacks on some length, but necessarily categorizes it. As mentioned, there have been more than just one series of video games for Naruto, created by different studios, and so the developers of said series must give the series a name. For this review, it is Ultimate Ninja. Then as there been so many installments to the Ultimate Ninja series, each one has had a different name, even delving sometimes into sub series. They’ll go up to matching, near identical names two, to three times, and then shift into another, newer sub series. Storm is the sub series for this game, and then Full Burst is the re-release version of it. Breaking it down into pieces like that dissuades the overall appearance that the name is clunky and overtly complex, but casting that side, the full blown title in itself is excessive.

But the issue isn’t just the length. It’s the words in it. The motive is more transparent, leading to some amusement. The game makers are trying to conjure up the image of it being, for the lack of better word, super awesome. They want it to seem greater and grander than anything else, and so they continually pile on bombastic words to achieve just that; but by jumbling together so many, the result is nowhere near genuine.

There also isn’t any abbreviation for it either. Usually with popular titles there are, like AC for Assassin’s Creed, or ME for Mass Effect, but what can you do with this game? NSUNS3FB? Who is going to recognize that, even if they’ve played every possible minute of the game? I barely can, and I wrote it. So instead you’re stuck with some unspecific reference that could be mistaken for any of the other titles in the game series, or this convoluted mess.

The Details

Down to the details, as this review will pick everything apart. Keep in mind that there will be a plethora of spoilers to the game’s story, but there will be none pertaining to the manga, as that is already further along. That is assuming you are up to date with the manga.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst is a fighting game inlaid with role playing game elements, which comes with a minor categorization of adventure. The stretch of the storyline campaign is set within the Naruto story, continuing after Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 by starting in the aftermath of the Rinnegan wielding Pain’s downfall, when Konoha, the protagonist’s home village, is being rebuilt from the massive destruction that had been sowed by the Akatsuki, and just as the Third Ninja war is beginning.

Combat

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The primary point of this game, even though the developers may seem to forget that, is the fighting arena. One ninja versus one ninja, with one to two supporting characters. The rest of the game is essentially a framework for the combat. You cannot choose what characters you play as during the campaign, and neither what supporting characters that aid you, as you are following the official scripted story, but you can choose both your own character and the supporting characters in Free Battle and the Challenge Mode therein. The same applies for the Online content, which pins you against actual players instead of computer players.

Though the series is named after Naruto, the protagonists range beyond just that one ninja, as there are many clashes between ninja. Usually the game places you on the side aligned with the Ninja Alliance, with the exclusion of Sasuke as his role is rife with strife but a popular one nonetheless.

Combos and Ninjutsu

Combo systems made popular by the Street Fighters franchise are present and moderately vary between ninja characters, allowing for different combos on the ground, air, and range, usually with the accompaniment of joystick movements at select points in the string of button presses. Mostly these combos are physical, close ranged attacks that sometimes synergize Ninjutsu techniques in with them, like Naruto with his Clone Jutsu or his Rasengan. Because of the seldom but frequent enough variance of combos between characters, it’s necessary to check the menu for the 1P combo list. Aside from checking a wiki, this is the only available place for character combos. Easily accessible, but at a glance there’s no way to determine what ‘combo set’ a character has before playing as them.

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Ninjutsu techniques are like special attacks. They expend an energy resource called Chakra, displayed as a rectangular bar beneath the health bar at the top of the screen. The quantity the character presently retains is represented by the light blue color. There is a further denotation on the bar, where the outline begins to separate the inside of the bar but stops. This represents the amount of chakra necessary for a tier 2 ninjutsu, called ultimate ninjutsu. This is generally the strongest attack a ninja can perform, but at the cost of expending the majority of your ninja’s chakra. These ninjutsu are the hallmark of the Naruto universe, and are often accompanied with flashy visuals and a succinct cutscene. These ultimate ninjutsu, and even regular ninjutsu, can miss though, which helps to make the fighting gameplay more natural and dynamic, but can lead to some frustrating occurrences when every ninjutsu of your opponent just seems nearly impossible to dodge, while your own ninjutsu being flung at your opponent just keeps missing no matter what. You can either not be in close enough proximity to your opponent when you initiate the ninjutsu, or your opponent can merely dodge the ninjutsu.

Though chakra is an expendable resource, hardly a new concept for this game series, it can be recharged by using Chakra Load. With the Xbox 360 controller, Y is the button to press and hold to recharge your ninja’s character. Your ninja character is vulnerable while they recharge their chakra, but this is the most reliable way to return your chakra. Sometimes support characters can protect you, but not usually. There are also ways to lose your chakra. If your character is knocked down hard enough, such as by the opponent’s ultimate ninjutsu or the finishing strike on a combo chain, glowing spheres of chakra will fall out of your ninja and you will lose some chakra. These chakra balls, as the game calls them, are fair game to the characters in the field, and will disperse when touched, returning a small portion of chakra each.

The goal in a fight is to defeat the opponent by depleting their health to zero. This is the general concept in fighting games, although in the Challenge Mode there are some additional stipulations, some more drastic than others. The health bars start out colored green, and then when you knock that down, there is an orange one, and then finally there is a stark red one. The player character does not, if ever, have a third health bar, shortening the length of versus battles outside of the campaign story and enforcing an inherent, sometimes harshly unfair disadvantage to the player character. But this third, red health bar is only present in campaign battles as well. Perhaps this is to artificially lengthen combat, to influence a deeper battle, where the protagonists of the Ninja Alliance are fighting stronger, more formidable enemies, but I have found this to be a poorly implemented way to induce this. It does create a readily gaugeable estimation of how much it will take to defeat your enemy though, but has the consequence of offering little variance.

Camera

The camera is eternally locked onto your opponent, and will never be free roaming; even in the overworld exploration the camera cannot be influenced. At first the game gives the strong impression that the camera will always be facing towards your opponent, and thus looking over your ninja character’s shoulder, albeit at a broad angle. But from all the knock downs and running around, the camera can become so twisted and turned around that it will be suddenly reversed. This transition can happen deceptively quickly, and sometimes be none too obvious that it’s occurred until you’re focused on the wrong character – your opponent instead of your own.

It makes for some awkward gameplay, even if you’re aware, except in some cases when it contributes to a wider view of the battle field. And it also creates some confusion if you are pinned against an opponent that is a clone, or near clone of your own ninja character. Though there are over eighty characters in the game, technically not each one is completely unique. This is because some characters go through dramatic technique renditions and evolutions in the story, such as Naruto mastering Sage Mode, or Sasuke donning the Akatsuki cloak and wielding Chidori as his normal ninjutsu and Amaterasu- as his ultimate ninjutsu. To exacerbate this, characters can have alternate costumes, and some of the main characters have in fact several. This wouldn’t be so in the normal edition of the game, but in Full Burst the DLC content added many costumes. Duplicates of the same exact character edition and same costume can also be used, and though this has some gameplay freedom, their costume colors will not be shared, like Sasuke’s Akatsuki cloak will have purple clouds instead of red. This just serves to have a similar affect as any other costume.

This style of camera does give a similar atmosphere to a side scrolling game or the traditional 2D style camera seen in the Street Fighter games, but the transition and evolution is not a smooth one. The Ultimate Ninja game series did originate as that 2D style, situated at an approximate distance while facing the character’s sides, but characters were locked to each other in a similar fashion. The transition of the camera that allows for movement in all directions is technically an upgrade, but the locked fixation of it is prohibitive and unwieldy, and can interfere with your sight of your character as well.

Mob battles

  • Also known as one versus many battles.

If there are multiple opponents, you can shift your camera to each one. Where your camera is locked onto will influence the direction your ninja character’s attacks go, and though you can change which individual opponent the camera locks onto in a multiple opponent battle, your ninja’s attacks are generally not altered to be suitable for wide sweeping attacks that hit more than one target. It’s as if the game begrudgingly accepts that there are battles with more than one opponent, and incorporates them with barely further tweaking.

From a development standpoint, it would be quite costly, perhaps even infeasible, to create the manifold animations and the associated physics to deliver on such multi combat, with their over eighty characters in the game, but that is neither the whole of the problem with multiple opponent battles. As if to emphasis the lackluster nature of multiple opponent battles, they are not included in any game mode but the campaign. This does reduce the number of ninja characters that would need revamped animations for multiple opponent battles, but if they were to change that, then why wouldn’t they include that as a normal, repayable game mode? It is true that these multiple opponent battles are forced into the game by the storyline, as they become a common occurrence in latter stages of the storyline, either against minor enemies or gargantuan boss monsters all at once, but this is one case of many where the game does not stand on its own and acts instead like a mouthpiece for the story in the form of an interactive cutscene viewer.

Dodging and movement

As the camera is universally locked to your opponent, the dodging your ninja character can do is perspective based. You can dodge sideways in either direction, backwards, and forwards, in the form of dashes and flips. These are especially useful maneuvers to evade combo chains, as your character is completely vulnerable and indefensible while a combo chain is going on, ninjutsu attacks that usually only result in damage if they connect, and shuriken, a form of item ranged attack that all shinobi have. They can also act as pseudo counters, by dodging, and then sweeping in with an attack, but also serve to be distance closers by dashing or flipping closer, or weaving in between attacks. Though this dodging system is encumbered by the locked camera, it is certainly something that shines well in the game, and it would be lacking without it. Other series in the Naruto universe lacked this well developed dodging, or had some form of it and was instead just a side step.

Admittedly the fluid, swift movement of the ninja characters with these dodges contributes to some of the strongest forms of dynamic, aggressive fighting. Realistically in manga styled fights, characters don’t just stand there and duke it out, like a bloody brawl with fists and weapons. In Naruto this is most especially true, except as the manga progresses, shinobi more often use special ninjutsu to defend against or dodge attacks. In certain cases for some characters, those special ninjutsu seen in the manga are instead represented by the dodge maneuver, like Tobi with his dimensional warping. These special ninjutsu purely act as replacements however, and offer little to none advantage; the difference merely being the visual, if interesting animation.

Substitution Jutsu

More of those specialized evasion ninjutsu are showcased in the form of the substitution jutsu, like Minato with his yellow flash technique or Itachi Uchiha by dispersing into a cloud of inky ravens. The substitution jutsu is a staple of the Naruto series, allowing ninja to miraculously dodge attacks by replacing their position with an object, typically a cut log. It is technically a genjutsu technique, as far as I understand, as it gives the illusion that the user is harmed by the opponent’s attack, but instead the opponent attacked the substituted object.

This is one of the two sole ways to protect your ninja character from receiving damage, if it is connecting or about to connect to their body. It helps to mitigate the severe racks up of damage that occurs from combo chains, as executing the substitution jutsu is instantaneous. Executing this defensive technique will immediately position your ninja character behind your opponent, where they will surely be vulnerable, but if you do attack, there is nothing to stop your opponent from also deploying the substitution jutsu.

There is some limitation to the substitution jutsu, illustrated by the four segmented bar below the chakra bar. Each one is one use of the substitution jutsu. You can see this on both your character and your opponent’s, which is also usually the case for the other statistical information as well, like the health and chakra bars. Unlike chakra, you cannot manually recharge your substitution jutsu bars. They naturally and slowly replenish, though there are some extraneous items that can bolster the regeneration rate.

If there wasn’t a limit, each ninja in battle would be almost entirely invulnerable to any form of damage. There just is not anything that trumps the substitution jutsu. That really is a hard word to spell right. Too many T’s in there, how annoying! Because of the substitution jutsu’s supreme utility, and little to no cool down on successive uses, it is surprisingly simple to unleash a chain of substitution jutsu’s to repeatedly avoid damage from attacks. Often that occurrence is exacerbated by your opponent also doing the same thing. Then you are both expelled of the substitution jutsus for a time, rendering a somewhat integral aspect of the fighting gameplay non-existent until the charges replenish. They do recharge one at a time, but it is at a very slow rate.

Perhaps the game intends for you to execute them more strategically, yet there is not exactly much variance between damage sources in the game. This is due to the fact that once your character begins to enter a flinch phase, so to speak, you are no longer able to defend yourself, sans that very substitution jutsu. Some characters actually can’t be flinched at all, but you only encounter these in the campaign and can never control these yourselves. It’s simply not balanced, and it’s not in the campaign battles either.

Getting back on track, once your character begins to flinch, your character is entirely open up to a combo chain unless your opponent falters or pauses, and honestly, they’re not going to unless they’re another human player, and new to the game. There is nothing to slip up your opponent, as you can do absolutely nothing while they’re connecting attacks on your ninja’s person.

A combo chain will deal a similar amount of damage, presuming it’s one of the standard five to seven button press ones, to a single normal ninjutsu, while an ultimate ninjutsu will cut away around sixty percent of a health bar, if a bit more. The highest use in the substitution jutsu would be in avoiding ultimate ninjutsu, as that has the largest damage dealt, but usually there are obvious tells to the preparation and trigger of an ultimate jutsu. The character, whether they’re controlled by you or the computer, will take on an aura of greenish blue energy, and then will begin their animation. It is more uncertain and haphazard to defend yourself with a substitution jutsu against an ultimate ninjutsu as the animations range wildly across all the eighty characters. Some will need to dash and approach you; others will stand still and use some kind of ranged attack, like Yumato with his wood beams. There is a key point in the animation that it needs to connect, or it will miss, or in this case the substitution jutsu will successfully activate.

And yet, like the majority of battle scenarios in this game, ultimate ninjutsu are reliant on proximity. Some require a closer distance than others, but in the end, it spells the same for them all. Simply be too far, and their ultimate ninjutsu will fail and the chakra reserved for that ultimate ninjutsu will be consumed uselessly. That is a useful, if frustrating deterrent to chaining together ninjutsu until one connects. In my opinion, it facilitates gameplay balance with ninjutsu, as any ninjutsu that misses will consume the same amount of chakra if it had properly activated; but the penalty is too harsh when each ninjutsu takes up such a large chunk of your ninja character’s chakra. It should take some, such as fifty percent of the cost, but not all. They’re really, aside from the flashy and fanciful visuals, like an instantaneous combo chain.

It does make one wonder if the game believes there is some tangible difference between combo chains and ninjutsu. Sure there is some fluctuation between damage values, but not in any meaningful amount. So really, strategic utility of the substitution jutsu is diminished to a minor, possibly inconsequential effect. Commonly you can avoid ninjutsu and ultimate ninjutsu in other ways than substitution jutsu, and combo chains you cannot, as once you’re caught, you’re forced to endure the rest of the damage, unless you have a charge of the substitution jutsu. It’s like a redo for making a mistake.

Guarding and Grabbing

Guarding is also an ability; a far less than novel, riveting feature but integral nonetheless in this style of a fighting game. Your ninja just protects themselves with their up thrown arms, a fairly standard mechanic in a fighting game of this style. This can defend against most attacks, but not all, and will eventually fail if used for too long, which will leave your ninja character stunned, stars spinning around their head. This can be more reliable than dodging, as that can be unwieldy to use with the ever moving of characters and the locked camera, but does easily shatter.

  • Grabbing, seemingly a counter, but not.

There are also grabs, which can be done while blocking. Usually though, if you’re receiving an onslaught of attacks while guarding, this will just expose your ninja to damage and then they will begin flinching, opening them up to the whole combo chain of damage. These grabs are a pseudo counter, as it is an ability activated while presently guarding. Your ninja character doesn’t need to be actually guarding against any attack though, so it is nowhere near a true counter. Worse is that the animation frame is long, with it only becoming successful at a later stage of it. Any period in between your ninja can be hit, and will flinch, ending the grapple animation and rendering it unsuccessful. Your ninja literally transitions out of guarding to grapple.

The grab isn’t standard in terms of animation during and executing, as conventional as the mechanic is. The animations vary heavily from character to character, some spreading out visually apparent ninjutsu, like the shadow tendrils of Shikamaru Nara, while others do reach out as per the norm. These animations are precursors to the actual grab attack. They do moderate damage, more than the strike of single throw of shuriken, but less than anything else. Yet they have the advantage of knocking your opponent away and onto their back. Rarely this grab technique can affect multiple opponents at once, with certain augmented characters that only are playable in the campaign. Evidently multiple opponent battles are restricted just to specific campaign chapters, but the tailed beast Naruto is only usable later. He just strikes the ground, knocking away anyone close by, so in actuality it is less of a true grab but functionally behaves the same way.

Balancing this mechanic to operate any differently may have been difficult, but that tends to be the course when trying untried methods. If the grab ability could instead have functioned like a counter, then it would be the perfect defense against any combo onslaught, and players and computers alike would predominantly rely on defense and guarding. There would be nothing to stop from spamming counter whenever an opponent ‘opened’ themselves up by attacking, and yet that would be the only way to wage a battle. But perhaps, if there was a small window in which a counter could be performed, then this grab ability would be better suited to a more fluid, controllable battle. Except it is not, and instead the grab acts very similar to any other combo, just with a shorter string of buttons to fully execute.

Shuriken

  • Ultimate Ninja’s version of Ki Blasts.

Bound to the X button on the Xbox 360 controller, shuriken are fodder-like, quickly traveling ranged attacks. As much as kunai are a part of the Naruto universe, it’s rare that you ever see a ninja throwing out kunai with this attack; instead you see the whirring blurs of multi-starred shuriken. Though there is a flurry of three or so at a time, they travel to the ever locked on target on the same path. There is no deviance or scattering as could be the case. There’s neither any influence over the arc they take. It is just a quick, ranged attack, and little more.

There is some use in hassling your opponent, but shuriken deal negligible damage, the absolute least in the entire arsenal your ninja can do. Tactically they can interrupt chakra charges, and just sometimes ninjutsu. There are some characters that do have morphed shuriken attacks though, like Deidara and Tenten. Since those two ninja are primarily ranged characters in the series, the game does manage to portray them as such but through the fighting system it already has. Tenten, who flings out a many number of shuriken and kunai, and Deidara, who throws flying birds wrought out of exploding clay, can chain together basic combos. There is not much variance in these combos, but you would think that this should give these two characters a distinctive and clear advantage, but it doesn’t.

Though they still retain normal, close range combinations, there isn’t much that is significant about their ranged combos. It is just like another output of attack that functions just the same as a physical combo, except that it travels at a distance and can be blocked with simultaneously thrown shuriken.

While that is true, Deidara can actually be more difficult if played to his ranged traits. The computer in the campaign will control Deidara in such a way that he will rely almost exclusively on his ranged attacks, of flying birds in place of shuriken, and then leap into the air, grab onto a larger bird, and fly overhead your ninja, onto the other side of the battle arena. Deidra does little damage this way, and peppers in some ninjutsu, but it is such an uncustomary way of combat that it can be confusing to a player. It can even seem cheap and unfair, but that is part of the point of fighting games like this when played competitively, to use everything and anything to your advantage in order to win. The way the camera permanently locks and swivels onto a character, the perspective based dodging and dashing on that camera, and the lack of solid ranged attacks, renders the character without them struggling at a distance.

Sure, you can block the spam of shuriken, but as your character is guarding, they will receive a fraction of the damage they otherwise would have taken. This is better than the alternative, of failing to dodge as the shuriken telepathically follow your character or trying to rush forward anyway. You can try to match their ranged attacks with shuriken of your own, but this doesn’t last long.

There is one thing to do though to close the distance, something I believe this game has executed fairly well, both in animation style and function. This would be the chakra dash, which can be done by using a chakra load, pressing Y once on the Xbox 360 controller to activate that blue green energy over the ninja, and then dashing forward, tilting the analog stick towards your opponent and pressing A on the controller. This dash will knock away the majority of incoming shuriken, and close the gap swiftly between your ninja and the opponent, at the cost of consuming some chakra.

Yet this ability is matched by another, and opposite one. Using chakra load, and then dashing backwards, will cause them to flip backwards quickly, retreating a considerable distance. This too consumes chakra, and negates the distance gained by a chakra dash. Still despite that, the chakra dash potentially opens up a window to attack, by glancing aside most of incoming shuriken and giving a brief, few moments to engage in close combat. You might be able to get a close range combo chain onto your opponent, or they might just move away. If timed correctly, or your opponent is careless or harebrained, they could still be in the animation of throwing ineffectual shuriken.

  • Chakra shuriken.
    • Yet another way to burn that limited resource of chakra.

In line with most actions a ninja character can take, shuriken can be powered up with charka by activating a chakra load and then throwing a shuriken. Usually the shuriken thrown will be glowing with energy, looking more like discs of energy than the ninja tools they are. This attack is not canonical within the Naruto series. There hasn’t ever been chakra covered shuriken used before. That has never been their function. It doesn’t even make sense from a chakra and ninjutsu standpoint, except perhaps as a specialized, learned technique, and not a generic one.

Charging a shuriken attack with chakra will consume the same amount as would be from a chakra dash, and will upgrade the shuriken’s damage to twice the amount, while also doubling the simultaneous hits to six in lieu of three. Those attributes alone would not be enough to warrant the chakra expenditure, however the chakra shuriken cannot be deflected by being met with a toss of standard shuriken, and cannot be fully deflected by blocking either. With standard shuriken when a ninja character is blocking, they will use either a sword or a kunai to deflect the ninja tools, something characteristic of the show. Sasuke uses a kunai to do this as well, even though he is actively carrying a straight katana in his hand.

The chakra shuriken can be negated by being met midair with another flurry of chakra shuriken, but this is at the cost of the opponent consuming their own chakra as well. It can be dodged but this is unreliable, as is somewhat standard of shuriken; except chakra shuriken travel at a slightly faster rate, making the timing more cumbersome.

These chakra shuriken can have their model changed, to something larger like a windmill shuriken, and appear without the eponymous glow of chakra. Despite that these appear like regular, if large ninja tools witnessed on multiple occasion in the manga and anime series and have no relation whatsoever to chakra, this model variant still expends chakra. Sadly it is just that, a model variant. Some characters will throw these by default, like the Third Hokage, where others will use the normal chakra covered shuriken.

The reasoning behind the existence and function of the chakra shuriken makes sense from a gameplay standpoint. It is a common theme in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst to charge actions with chakra to enhance their damage or function, trading that bolstered attack rating in exchange for chakra expenditure. But the nature of this is out of place in the Naruto setting. This is an instance of the game working the combat to more seamlessly suit itself, than staying true to the series. I admit this is a minor gripe, but the logic behind it is slippery. Why should it use up chakra to use a windmill shuriken? A counter to that could be that the ninja, if you are really trying to think it through, gets the windmill shuriken from a summoning scroll which might need some chakra to activate. You don’t see this of course, but the animation would have to be very brief to be on par with the normal chakra shuriken. But windmill shuriken fold up and become compact enough to fit into a pouch they carry, similar even to the size of one of those summoning scrolls.

There are only a few ninja that seem to use summoning scrolls regardless, and Tenten is among those that use them most profluently. Her standard combination attacks with shuriken do not eat up chakra though.

So you are returned to the original surmise, the game is changing something to suit its intended dynamics. If instead chakra was not eaten up to strengthen a shuriken attack, or all characters, rather than the select few, had access to shuriken combination strings where the shuriken that followed would incrementally strengthen, then the gameplay style would be prone to alter. This would create the possibility of relying on these ranged attacks, an onslaught of them even, which ninja characters are not suited that well for dealing with or defending against. This instance would match even less in the Naruto universe, as shuriken are not represented as methods of attack that are equivalent to martial arts and neither ninjutsu.

In the name of balance and fairness for a video game, this is a solid endeavor that does bear sense, but unsuitable when something more can be made. With any moderate experience across the several installments of this game series, or a brief foray into the Dragon Ball Budokai Tenkaichi games, there is scant innovation applied to this attack mechanic. It is even borrowed from Dragon Ball Budokai Tenkaichi, further tarnishing the stale mechanic by the glaring, clone-like similarities.

Support Characters

  • They make you feel a little less alone. Maybe.

A more modern addition to the Ultimate Ninja series, ninja support characters accompany your ninja, playable character into the battle field. Two, sometimes one but more often two of these ninja support characters join you at a time, and if a campaign battle calls for it, will cycle throughout the two slots as you use them, or an event in the campaign battle happens. Each one of these ninja support characters are triggered individually and separately, although they can be initiated simultaneously if to suboptimal results, by the left and right shoulder buttons of the Xbox 360 controller. They leap onto the battle field, from off screen, and generally cast a ninjutsu onto your opponent and then leap away.

After you summon them, their icon – which is located beside the health bar, just below your character’s avatar icon – will darken and a line will appear over it, separating the color and the desaturated parts until it fully fills with color all over again, representing that your support character can be summoned once again. Usually when that support character respawns, the game will let you know by some short dialog by the support character. What they say will actually change and vary depending on which ninja you are playing as, and what other support characters are with you. That is to say some will elicit different dialog. Such a possibility is often conveyed by the ninja support titles when choosing your characters. You do not have control over this in the campaign, as you neither choose what character you play as, nor your support characters that will be joining you.

Such combinations typically have types of stat boosts as opposed to regular teams. These unique, named teams exist according to the characters’ similarities to one another, whether something from the past, something they both specialize in, or something physical they both have. Chiyo and Hanzo are poison specialists and have bonuses to Team Power and Support Power. You can see the differences by the bars on the left, each one’s color associated with the stat. Pinkish red for Team Power, light blue for Support Power, and bright purple for Unity Power. Each of these bars has six interconnecting arrows. This all means that depending on the combinations you choose for your team will change how strong they are in particular aspects. Or at least that is what the game expresses to you through this information. There is not much witnessed to prove the tangible effects those stat bars have. We can only guess that the higher stat a bar is the stronger either Team Power, Support Power, or Unity Power will be, but on the other hand this game isn’t exactly known for fulfilling its promises.

If it wasn’t clear, your ninja combined with support ninja come together to form a team, and that is what the game typically refers to it as. In some modes of the game, you can choose between a solo match and a team match. In that instance a team match refers to your ninja character, and one to two support ninja with you.

There are team combinations in pairs and trios. The team combinations in pairs typically have higher stats, even comparing a team combination duo to a team combination trio. Presumably this is to give a benefit to choosing only one support ninja, but it does seem better to use two regardless. The trio team combinations have usually less specific titles, as it has to claim to what the three of them share, like Team Guy for Lee, Tenten, and Neji. Duo team combinations are usually more personal and exact, like “Best Friends” when pairing Naruto and Sasuke (it literally has those quotes, as the feelings aren’t mutual) or Worthy Past Opponents when pairing Young Kakashi and Young Tobi.

You can choose each support character’s role, designating them as attack, guard, or balance. Though they’ll all do a bit of both, despite how the game’s tutorials suggest heavily otherwise, depending on your choices they will be more optimized for a given role. Attack is clear, as that chosen role for a support character will cause them to act offensively, almost always in the form of a long ranged ninjutsu, even if it involves sprinting. Guarding support characters, if summoned at an unspecific moment, will behave defensively, even if that involves using a ninjutsu to keep your opponent away. If your ninja character is charging chakra, sometimes they will leap in front of you in a guard stance, protecting you. This is particularly useful, as your ninja character is vulnerable while they’re recharging their chakra, and the resource of chakra is important as well. Choosing the balance role will cause that ninja support character to share behaviors for both attack and guard, but will not be as efficient at either it would seem.

The role you choose for the support ninja is most influenced by context. Each role is intended to do something specific, and they actually will when the matching contextual environment is there, like your opponent is beginning to use an ultimate ninjutsu and you have a balance support character, using them at that moment should cause your support character to take the attack instead. Sometimes it triggers passively, like for guard support ninja, such as when your guard breaks, the guard ninja will leap in front of your character and protect you while guarding. A passive action like that won’t consume the gauge either. When one of those situations occurs, when the support ninja performs an action coinciding with their role, large calligraphic text will show on screen to the side saying, “Support Drive!”

Though the workings of the support ninja are complex, they’re rather useful in battle and give the sense of fighting with your comrades, a persistent theme in Naruto Shippuden, especially the later stages. I find that a diverse team helps, with one set to a guard role, and another to either an attack or support role. You do seem to be benefit more from the support ninja if they are defensive, either as a guard or balance role, because of the stunned status your ninja can be thrown into. Just one strike opens your ninja up to a string of a combo. A support ninja can protect you from this, if but infrequently because of the cool down on the teammate.

At a glance it may not seem so, but your support ninja do have health bars. They are susceptible to damage in the same way that player ninja characters are. If an attack succeeds on them, usually the support ninja are collateral damage as they cannot be targeted directly to my knowledge; they will enter a flinched state just like your player character does. If they were going to use a ninjutsu, typically in the attacking fashion, then this damage infliction will interrupt them and they won’t try again.

If the support ninja take too much damage, from multiple summons in the same battle, they will disappear entirely from the battlefield. The game stresses on occasion that this can happen, but honestly it is rare for it to, even with guard and balance role support ninja. You would be at an obvious disadvantage if it did happen though, the health you would protect your own ninja character from might not be worth the extra utility and damage a single support ninja has to offer, assuming it is only a moderate amount. But like I said, this isn’t likely to happen due to the fights curtailed by moderately sized health meters and high damaging, rapid attacks, with insufficient ways to mitigate that income of damage.

If the battle does wear on long enough, and you exhaust the summoning of your support ninja on cool down, then the team meter will fill up. You don’t literally have to use your support team on cool down, but it makes charging the team meter feasible. Even if you do that though, this will still be a rare thing to see. You might even have to artificially prolong the fight, or play incredibly evasively, which would prolong it. This team meter represented by the horizontal, curving gauge to the upper left of the screen. The color becomes progressively more striking as the gauge fills up. When that team gauge is full and your ninja character has a sizable amount of chakra, the three of you can then perform a Team Ultimate Ninjutsu, combining your attacks together. Or at least that’s how it is supposed to work. The specific technique requires an obscure string of button presses – hit Y three times, then B. Delay too long in this once the team gauge has filled, it will empty, and you will have missed your very rare opportunity.

Perhaps if this game strayed a little farther from the mold, you could swap with your support ninja on the fly, to change out who is fighting on the field and who you are controlling yourself. Instead the perception is that the character you are controlling is spearheading the conflict, carrying it on his shoulders. This actually is relatively so in the campaign with Naruto, but really only later on in the campaign. In the manga serialization, this is much more evident as Naruto shares his vast nine tails chakra with the ninja alliance, but the game doesn’t make an attempt at showing this.

The Awakening State

  • It’s not Super Saiyan.
    • Or is it?

As for the whole of the Ultimate Ninja video game series, the Awakening State is one feature that makes a new addition. It serves to better represent the unique powers many of the ninja characters have in Naruto, but does so in a way that is analogous to the rest of the game’s medium and unfortunately falls short for a fair few of the bloodlines and unique abilities. The Awakening state is like a powered up transformation for each character. Most of the characters have them, and many will seem not to initially, as there is a chakra teardrop seal that appears at the top of the chakra gauge when a ninja character’s health is dropped below half, sometimes more.

You can initiate this transformed state by charging your ninja character’s chakra to full, and then continuing to charge until the alteration visibly takes place and a succinct cutscene occurs. For Kakashi Hatake, when you successfully initiate his awakening state, he will push back his forehead protector plate and reveal his second eye, the sharingan. Blue flames of chakra will glow from spots on his body, representing a heightened state of chakra, although this visual feature is not canonical and appears to be present to convey to the player that this specific ninja character is in the awakening state. Other characters in the awakening state that do not readily have physical alterations will take on a similar glow of chakra, like spurts of lightning on their body. This makes a clear distinction when the awakening state disappears, as this is only a transitory transformation. The duration of time the awakening state will last is also discernible by the chakra teardrop seal, as it will gradually empty from the top to the bottom like a glass container with a hole at the bottom. For a great amount of characters, this limitation holds true beyond this game, especially so in Kakashi Hatake’s case as using the sharingan rapidly eats away at his chakra stamina as he does not have the bloodline of the Uchiha.

While in this awakening state, the ninja character deals more damage than their ordinary state and has access to an altered combo list. You can only check this while in the given ninja character’s awakening state. Furthermore for some characters the two support character icons are replaced with two additional, special techniques the ninja can perform. In Kakashi Hatake’s case, this is Lightning Transmission. With a shadow clone, he will run across the arena towards the opponent, with a line of sheer and flat lightning connecting his hand and the shadow clone’s. This technique has a comparable cool down to the support characters, but can be used twice in quick succession, as each icon is considered separate despite performing the same exact technique.

When the awakening state times out for the ninja character, they will be left weakened. You can see this by the slightly haggard expression they take on, and the darker shading that applies to their character model. Damage they can deal to their opponents during this exhaustion is reduced, but just like the awakening state, this is temporary. So this is a drawback in the wake of an awakening state. Usually once this detriment disappears, the awakening state will become available to use once again, presuming your ninja lasts that long that is.

Your ninja character will once again enter that exhausted state when their awakening state burns out, and will for as many times as you enter the awakening state. It is possible the game intends for you to avoid this drawback, and not receive the penalties, by defeating your opponent before the awakening state wears out. If you think about it from the point of view of the Naruto manga, this holds logical reasoning. It is not likely once a character holds a powered up state will they win if their energy runs out, and that is the apparent reasoning for dropping out of the awakening state here. I’m clearly not talking about the end of the manga, as I have lost count for the number of times Naruto has ‘run out of chakra’.

Most awakening states are triggered in the aforementioned method, of charging your ninja’s chakra past the threshold of the regular limit while possessing significantly reduced health, but there is another, less common awakening state. Certain ninja characters will start out in the beginning of the battle with the chakra teardrop seal greyed out. For regular awakening states, this chakra teardrop seal only appears when they have fulfilled the requirements to potentially enter the awakening state. That would be the reduced health. In these certain characters, they already meet the requirements to enter the awakening state. Tilting up on the right analog stick will push these characters into their awakening states. These awakening states function similarly to the rest, with some exceptions. The time limit is changed. Rather than the chakra teardrop seal slowly draining away, the time limit is signified by the rapid shortening of the chakra bar. At any point you can shift these characters out of their awakening state, which fundamentally changes these tactically, as far as tactics can go in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst. You can fluidly slip in and out of their awakening state, rendering the ability like an elaborate power up for a given move if you so wish, at the cost of temporarily stunting your character’s chakra bar.

You see this most predominantly with Neji and Hinata, as they enter awakening states like this in order to use their byakuugan. It is some kind of irony that in order to use their byakuugan abilities, which involves shutting down the chakra pathways in the body of their opponents, that they undergo the same process. That is to say when Hinata and Neji strike their opponents in their awakening states, they will cut away at their opponent’s chakra bar, reducing their total resource of chakra. This can cover but it is slow, and is slower than the chakra bar recovers for this variant of the awakening state.

These awakening states lack ultimate ninjutsu abilities, but have their own unique list of combo just like the rest of the awakening states. This is with the exception of Part 1 Sasuke, as his combo list is unaltered presumably due to how he is a part of the group that is non-integral to the current storyline, as they are set in the beginning of the series. Oddly Part 1 Sasuke is the only Sasuke who can trigger his Sharingan without the health reduction requirement.

It would seem that ninja characters with an awakening state that do not have an obvious changed, outward appearance undergo that glow of flame or lightning chakra. There are some that do have a changed appearance, like Killer Bee and Naruto, who take on a morphed likeness of their sealed tailed beasts. High powered transformations like these are perhaps what the whole idea of the awakening states derived from. It could be seen like this is the beast sleeping within waking up and taking over, but that is a stretch.

The theory that the awakening states derive from tailed beast transformations, and the boon of tremendous power gained from them, is bolstered by the lack of unique abilities to certain key awakening states. The lack of something is not precisely evidence of a conclusion, but regardless. For some awakening states, it does make sense for there just to be higher damage and a changed, themed combo set, but for ninja characters with the sharingan, or other bloodlines and abilities that give them unique traits, it isn’t enough. The result is a moderately equal awakening state across all the playable characters. A transformation that is stronger than the character is normally, and has access to a specific set of combos, but all roughly the same.

It starts to feel like this is a game set with the theme of Naruto, but not in the world of Naruto. The sharingan offers nothing in this game but a harder hitting character. No hyper reflexes, genjutsu, or ninjutsu mirroring. You do actually see that once, but that is a special event in the campaign.

Knock out of arena

  • This isn’t Soul Caliber or Super Smash Brothers.

This isn’t something you would find out until after you’ve completed the campaign story, or you happened upon it quite aggressively by yourself. A feature that isn’t too uncommon for fighting games but is untraditional for Naruto games is a knock out of arena defeat. You saw this happen a lot in games like Soul Caliber for instance. There doesn’t appear to be any way to do this initially, but if you knock your opponent against certain walls in certain stages – or your own ninja gets knocked against it – cracks will spread across the wall. The affect looks like glass about to shatter. If you knock them against it three times, it will break, and knock them again in that direction and they will fall out of the arena, and you will win the match. This requires a sequence of attacks like a full combo, a successful ninjutsu, or a successful grab that launches them against the wall.

This does not really happen unless you pursue it deliberately. There usually is so much moving around by haphazard dodges and placement switches by the spam of substitution jutsu. The AI of the computer player doesn’t seem to be inclined to do it either. Frankly adding the option to do something doesn’t always or consistently add quality. I suppose it might just be your opponent’s own fault for getting caught in an obvious trap like that, but the computer player isn’t going to know any better. The AI in this game just doesn’t seem that sophisticated. There isn’t a way to change the difficulty either, so you can’t force the AI to be more vigilant. It might be a more valid tactic in Online Play, but that’s laden with lag.

Knocking your opponent out of the arena is like a shortcut to victory. It’s quick; it’s easy, but altogether doesn’t change much if you were already dominating your opponent already. The goal to victory shouldn’t be to strike your opponent out of the arena though, it should be to best them. This feature is one of the most out of place in Naruto. These ninja don’t take much harm from falls. They’re just as super human as super heroes. Some of them can even fly.

That aside, it is a more understandable recourse when a fight is so difficult your ninja becomes tantamount to a punching bag; but when that happens, that doesn’t seem like difficulty anymore. That seems like cheap, cheaty circumstances.

Navigation


  • Note: If you are looking to purchase this game, then you can find it available online on amazon or steam. The PC port of the game will always be for steam, while the game is available on other platforms like the Xbox 360 from amazon as well. Here are the respective links:

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst on Amazon

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst on Steam


Article by: Vehement Chrome

games fighting games


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