Naruto Ninja Council 3 First Look

We check out the latest Naruto game for the DS.

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Naruto: Ninja Council 3
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Naruto Ninja Council 3 is the latest game to be based on the popular anime and manga series. The action revolves around young Naruto Uzumaki and his friends as they laugh, love, and kick butt (they are ninjas in training after all). The game is the first Ninja Council game for the Nintendo DS and promises to let fans of the series battle with and against a broad sampling of faces from the series. We had the chance to check out an early work-in-progress build of the Japanese version of the game to see how it's coming together.

Laughin', trainin' and ninja'n. Welcome to the wonderful world of Naruto Uzumaki.
Laughin', trainin' and ninja'n. Welcome to the wonderful world of Naruto Uzumaki.

The game will feature several different modes such as timed, scroll collection, and head-to-head versus, which will support up to four players via Wi-Fi. Rather than being tied too closely to a set storyline, the action in Ninja Council 3 will revolve around more than 40 missions that will find you teaming up with partners of your choice. You'll find a selection of 20 characters taken from the series, each with his or her own unique attacks. The roster of characters will unlock over the course of the game, starting you out with a modest selection of characters that will eventually grow to the full 20. As you open up characters, you'll be able to customize them to a degree by slotting in different techniques. You'll learn that as you go through the game, you'll need to have certain techniques equipped to succeed. Rather than tie the techniques to a specific character, Ninja Council 3 lets you apply any available technique to any character, letting you partner up with the characters you want without jeopardizing your ability to progress.

Control is shaping up to be a good mix of conventional mechanics and support for the various bells and whistles on the DS. You'll move around with the D pad and use the face buttons to jump and use assorted attacks. When you use special techniques, the game relies on the DS's touch screen and microphone, requiring you to tap or blow in specific sequences. Fans of the series should have an advantage over newcomers to Naruto, as the actions you'll have to perform will synch up with the various attacks.

The visuals in the game are looking solid on the DS, with the character sprites featuring a good amount of detail and smooth animation. Naruto and company are all recognizable as you play. The environments we saw for a few missions were looking good, albeit a bit too low-key. However, there was a respectable amount of familiar places, as well as the promise of more locales to come for Naruto and company. The audio in the game was sounding good, though we weren't able to make out much due to the loud environment of our demo.

Based on what we've seen so far, Naruto Ninja Council 3 is shaping up to be a solid action title with plenty of variety. The open-ended structure of it seems to work well, letting players tackle the action in manageable chunks. The flexibility in the character selection also seems to be a smart touch, letting fans stick with their favorite crew.

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