Game Review: Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy (Switch)

It has been less ten years since the first Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm game was released onto the PlayStation 3, and it’s been less than a year since the Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm trilogy received the enhanced re-release onto current-generation-consoles; but now the ‘Ultimate Ninja Storm’ trilogy arrives on the Nintendo Switch.

Is this a smart move from Bandai Namco Entertainment? The answer is yes, and not just from the amount of story content but because it is a solid port that retains everything you could want from the experience.

  Title: Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: CyberConnect2
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: English & Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: 2
Install: YES (17GB)

Our View:

Developed by CyberConnect2, and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy consists of enhanced versions of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm (PS3), Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 (PS3/X360) and Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (PS3/X360) with each retelling portions of the Naruto and Naruto Shippuden storyline through a combination of dialogue cut-scenes and 3D brawler fights with over-the-top ninjutsu attacks.

From a fundamental perspective all three games feature the same gameplay content, with the exception of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm which does not feature an online multiplayer mode; with all three offering an expansive campaign mode, offline versus battles and a large roster of characters that gets bigger the further players progress through the story. Regardless of the gameplay options, each game offers something unique; and that mostly revolves around the story and how it is portrayed.

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm:

Originally released in 2008 for the PlayStation 3, before being remastered for its Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC release last year (in 2017), Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm for the Nintendo Switch is an enhanced port of the original game and it retains true to the original experience; even if that experience was somewhat flawed compared to its later sequels.

Featuring smooth cell-shaded anime-visuals Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm is a game that retells the events of the ‘original’ Naruto storyline and sees iconic fights, and memorable moments, recreated for this videogame. Whether it is the training of Naruto in the Hidden Leaf Village, the reactive fight with Gaara in the Sand Village, the destructive fight with Orochimaru or the emotional conclusion to the Naruto storyline with Sasuke; every iconic moment is recreated in videogame format for players to explore and engage within.

Unfortunately unlike later instalments Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm is the weakest of the three games with its outdated combat system, smaller roster of characters and limited gameplay modes; and even then the story mode isn’t as entertaining as the later games due to restrictive progressive nature.

In Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm the story is progressed by earning experience points, points of which are earned by completing missions and side-missions. This sounds simple enough; but once you encounter a mission that is too difficult for you to manage it brings the story to a stalemate. It’s a very un-progressive way to play a story and, for me at least, it brought my progression of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm to a complete halt – and that’s after you get to grips with the terrible ninjutsu inputs.

As with all of the Naruto games by CyberConnect2 combat is that of a 3D Brawler where players can move freely around a combat zone, with Jump, Physical attack, Chakra Charge and Shuriken each attached to a certain input on the controller. Additional combat styles, such as weapon and item activation, can also be set to the D-Pad for that added burst of support, with these items equipped before a match begins.

For ninjutsu attacks, such as Ultimate ninjutsu attacks, chakra needs to be charged and then activated; however once activated the player must compete in a Quick-Time-Event styled mini-game which sees them battle against the opponent to see who inputs the most correct button prompts. The result of this mini-game will determine if the attack connects or not. Considering this attack uses both chakra and time it is a worthless addition; so it is great that it was removed from future variations of the game.

As someone who has been familiar with the play style from the second game onwards this ‘Quick-Time-Event’ styled input came as a surprise; and since the game has no tutorial, or even a practice mode, it makes learning how to use the mechanic effectively a trial and error type of scenario. Not great if you are planning to win the battle in one swift motion. Substitution and Blocking is also available although, once again, slightly unclear as to how it can be used and when.

Although Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm does get some things wrong, such as clunky fight styles and progressive story, it does have some good points. For starters players are able to explore large open areas, such as the Hidden Leaf Village, and interact with various characters.

This also introduces some different gameplay styles to the missions; such as a ‘hide and seek’ game that sees players look for characters. It’s a fun mini-game, but its far from easy – although it was an A-Rank Mission. Other differing play styles include a ‘race to the top of a tree’ whereby characters compete to reach the top; it’s a different experience to the newer Naruto games and offers a nice change of pace to the norm of fighting opponents.

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm is a well-presented outdated game and successfully recreates the Naruto storyline for fans and newcomers alike to enjoy; however for someone incredibly familiar with future titles (especially Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3) it is difficult to adjust to the play styles of this game and thus becomes more frustrating than enjoyable.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2:

Originally released in 2010 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, before being remastered for its Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC release last year (in 2017), Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 for the Nintendo Switch is an enhanced port of the original game and it retains true to the original experience as well as expands upon it in this console hybrid release for the Nintendo Switch.

Featuring crisp cell-shaded anime-visuals Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is a game that recreates a large portion of the Naruto Shippuden storyline for fans of the franchise to experience in videogame form. In this particular game players will experience the Naruto Shippuden storyline from the beginning, which sees Naruto return home to Hidden Leaf Village after training with Jiriya, all the way up to the epic battle with Pain within the Hidden Leaf Village.

This may be a ‘simplistic’ overview of the story; but a lot of ground is covered, all of which is presented in a similar manner to the previous game through a mixture of dialogue cut-scenes and intense fights. Fortunately issues with the previous game, such as restrictive progression, have been fixed so now fans can choose to either experience the main campaign within Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 or explore numerous locations for side-missions. Regardless of the choice each one can be done without any restrictive barriers; so fans can come and go as they please in the missions they want to play.

Speaking of gameplay Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 offers a different ‘explorative’ take on the exploration of the game world. In the previous games, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, players were able to freely navigate around large open spaces and then simply select missions from the pause menu.

In Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 however exploration of the Leaf Village, Sand Village, and numerous other areas, are done in the form of small 2.5D and 3D areas that keep players focused on where they should be. Sure enough you can still explore the village(s) but with this restrictive nature in place it makes finding characters and locations that much easier – which is a good thing as players have to run to the location of where the mission will take place in order to start it.

In terms of combat then Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 expands upon the original concept with a refined combat system. Sure enough each button is still tailored to a single type of attack (such as Jump, Attack, Shuriken Throw and Chakra Charge) as well as the D-Pad being used for weapons and items, but the Ultimate Ninjutsu attacks no longer require a successful Quick-Time-Event in order to connect with the opponent. Once an Ultimate Ninjutsu attack has begun the move only has to connect with the opponent in order for damage to be dealt; which is a far cry from the original which required a quick-time-event.

Quick-Time-Events still exist within Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 and they have been implemented with great effect; as during selective points in key battles a Quick-Time-Event will take place to deliver important aspects of the fight. Failing a Quick-Time-Event will not lose the match; but instead the player will lose some health and given the opportunity to try again. To some it may seem pointless; but unlike the Quick-Time-Event implementation of the previous game it is a big change that makes the fights that much more intense and enjoyable to play.

That’s not all that has changed; as Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 introduces the prospect of online multiplayer battles with both Free Match and Ranked Match options available, with Ranked Match statistics even being tracked by an online leader board.

The online match rules are the same as those offline, in both Ultimate Adventure (Campaign) and Free Battle (offline versus), but one new implementation is that artwork and titles earned during regular gameplay can be used to create an online player card for use in the online multiplayer modes. They do not do anything, but it adds a bit of user creativity to your profile.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is the perfect example of improving the original concept; as everything that made the original game disappointing has been improved, altered or removed to make this sequel a more streamlined and enjoyable experience. This Nintendo Switch port meanwhile continues this trend as not only does it look visually stunning, both in portable and docked mode(s), but the game plays exceptionally well in any of the three play style modes.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst:

Originally released in 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, before being rereleased as Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst with new downloadable content in 2014 and then remastered for its Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC release last year (in 2017).

This Nintendo Switch edition is an enhanced port of the ‘Full Burst’ edition of Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 and it attempts to recreate that experience for Nintendo Switch owners; but unfortunately fails with visual issues, noticeable frame-rate drops and some missing downloadable content.

Out of the all of the Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm games the third variation has always been my least favourite due to its relatively dreary campaign mode; and this Nintendo Switch edition, with its noticeable issues, retains those emotions. Naturally a game recreating a manga/anime series will always have its disappointing moments and (for me) the events within Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst is the one that I find the most disappointing.

Taking place directly after the events of Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, which saw Naruto defeat Pain and save the Hidden Leaf Village from destruction, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst begins with the relatively mysterious Danzo taking control of the ‘Hokage’ position within the Hidden Leaf Village and being summoned to the Five Kage Summit in order to discuss the upcoming Akatsuki threat. Elsewhere Sasuke and has newly formed Rogue group of ninjas are forming their own plot to overthrow the current regime and take revenge on past events.

The whole focus of this game is the Five Kague Summit and the impending Great Ninja War, which then continues – and concludes – in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4; but it’s the events surrounding the Five Kage Summit that I found most boring about this game. Sure enough some good moments can be had, such as the continued training with Naruto and the alternate motives of Sasuke, but generally it’s a story that I had to force myself to playthrough. This is the ‘Full Burst’ edition of Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 and as such the storyline content expands past the Five Kage Summit to include the storyline between Sasuke, Itachi and Kabuto.

Storyline contents aside the story is presented and played in the exact same manner as Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2; with dialogue sections intertwined with 3D brawler combat. Furthermore just like in the previous game players are able to navigate around 2.5D/3D styled environments that lead to the next objective; with objectives ranging from story missions to side-missions.

Once again combat has been refined in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst with the introduction of huge boss battles, Secret Factor moments and a substitution counter during regular combat. Combat in general is, once again, the same as before with a single type of attack (such as Jump, Attack, Shuriken Throw and Chakra Charge) set to a single button as well as the D-Pad being used for weapons and items that were equipped before the fight began. Ultimate Ninjutsu attacks also return and operate exactly the same as they did in the previous game. So what about these new introductions?

Well Huge Boss Battles can vary between two giant characters fighting each other – and are controlled like in a normal fight – or a small character fighting against a large enemy (i.e. Third Hokage and Nine Tailed Beast) which see help from other characters through cut-scenes and Quick-Time-Events. Secret Factors meanwhile are awarded for completing the ‘Extra Command’ portions (i.e. Quick-Time-Events) with All Stars obtained and doing so will see an element from the anime series play on screen. The substitution counter meanwhile is a visual indication of how many times a player can use the substitution jutsu; it may seem like a simple addition but it makes the fights much easier to understand.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst also expands the competitive nature of the ‘Ultimate Ninja Storm’ franchise by adding additional features. In this case Offline ‘Free Battle’ now includes, Tournament, Challenge and Practice mode; with Challenge Mode offering the more entertaining prospect of fighting set characters under certain conditions. Completing these challenges will unlock new a title which, once complete, will display some unique artwork. Tournament mode meanwhile is your traditional tournament rule set with the winner staying on and given the spoils of victory in the form of in-game-money.

Those looking for more ‘competitive’ entertainment will be excited to learn that Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst retains online multiplayer battles with both Free Match and Ranked Match options available. As one would expect Free Match allows players to battle without concerns while Ranked Match will see BP points lost or earned depending on the results of the battle, with these stats tracked online via the built-in online leader board. The online portion of the game allows players to create, and edit their online ninja card as well as purchase new designs by using in-game currency earned from all gameplay modes.

It’s worth noting that this release of Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst also contains a wide range of downloadable content that was originally released separately, or as part of the Burst Edition, when it was released on the Xbox 360 all those years ago. Unfortunately not all of the DLC is included (most likely due to license issues) but we do receive a variety of alternate outfits for notable characters and the ‘expansion’ to the storyline with Sasuke and Kabuto.

It’s safe to say that Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst offers the most content when compared to previous releases of the franchise, with its revamped combat system, online functionality and improved offline multiplayer modes; but unfortunately it is also the worst performing of the three games on the Nintendo Switch.

Firstly Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst has a bizarre visual issue during cut-scenes, such as a banding issue, and the anti-aliasing on characters outlines is more noticeable in this game than others; thus making it visually distracting to what was once a visually stunning experience.

The biggest issue I had was the occasionally sharp frame-rate drops and these would occur at random and it was if the game was loading mid-way through a fight or during a walk down mainstream. It’s safe to say that a high-speed memory card would be required in order to get the best experience out of this game; which is exactly what I have.

These issues aside Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst performs exceptionally well on the Nintendo Switch and it manages to retain majority of its visual appeal from its previous releases in both docked and portable mode.

Overall this Nintendo Switch release of Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is not only an impressive collection, but it retains that high quality experience that CyberConnect2 is well known for and expands upon it by offering a similar experience across both docked and portable game modes of the Nintendo Switch.

Unfortunately some hiccups do arise, such as some frame-rate drops and momentary freezing in Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst and a rather unimaginative initial ‘game selection’ screen upon startup of the Trilogy collection, but generally Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is a worthy addition to the Nintendo Switch library and is easily one of the best ports on the console.

Score: review-stars-4

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is now available digitally for the Nintendo Switch within Europe; alternatively these three games can be purchased individually from the Nintendo Switch eShop.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is also available physically and digitally for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well as digitally for the Windows PC; all three games are also available to purchase individually from the PlayStation Store, Xbox Store and via Steam for the Windows PC.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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