This Naruto fighting game raises the bar for the seemingly predictable Clash of Ninja series.
(-) Story mode can be unfair and cheap at times; mission mode can get on your nerves after a while
Most of the Clash of Ninja games have been praised for their fighting mechanics and character personalities but criticized because each new installment in the series seemed to be a repeat of the last one, where nothing new was added to the table except maybe a few more characters or a new attack. But Naruto Shippuden Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 works on changing some of that.
Most of the characters you except from the last games have made an appearance in this game, but with their updated Shippuden look. For example, Naruto looks a lot more manly and aggressive but still as bonehead as ever, Choji wears red and a long hair due and for some reason is hardly fat at all, Hinata looks really cute, and Gaara is a quite nice guy now. But for some reason, Ino isn't in the game. I never liked her that well, but some other people might, but in advance I'll tell you she's not in the game. There are also new appearances such as the Akatski tribe like Deidara the "spam-master", rat-face Hiruko, and old Granny Chiyo, Yamato and others.
But to unlock all the characters, you must complete the story mode. The story itself is very well done, the emotional struggle as Deidara attacks Gaara as he defend the Hidden Leaf Village, and Naruto cries for his pain until Granny Chiyo sacrifices her own life to save him. The story is deep and emotional and most of all involved. But you fight the battles with the game's mechanics, which isn't always that enjoyable. For example, the last battle with 9 Tailed Naruto against Deidara they purposely pit you against the opponent with your strength ten fold, which I'm really curious as to why the developers forced that on us. It will take tries and tries and tries, you will die at least twenty times, until you finally win. You'll want to kiss the ground when the whole thing is over.
And there's also the mission mode, where you do individual things with the entire character roster in the form of battles. There are rival matches, as well as multi-man matches which these make sense. But some of the goals are downright ridiculous, like defeating ten enemies without once recovering health. Even worse, defeating 10 enemies without recovering health doesn't award you as much points as just defeating the second rival match, which is far easier. In order to unlock the very last character, Anbu Kakashi, you need to have at least 40% of all this completed with each other character. And that can be incredibly monotonous after a long period of time.
The gameplay however hasn't changed all that much since Revolution 2, but there are some differences. You still have the strong attack, weak attack, ninja tool, paper bomb, block, special jutsu and other maneuvers you saw last year, but several of them have been changed. The biggest example here is Sasuke, who now uses a sword for most of his attacks along with his other Shingan jutsu and Kakashi who has copied a lot of the special jutsu from other characters, and also used his wounded eye-ball for a devastating attack!
New to the Clash of Ninja series is the ability to play online, which believe it or not it isn't always all that laggy. There are some matches that are easily spoiled by lag but about the same amount as there are in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which still promises some other games that are at least mostly free from lag.
The game also supports a wide variety of control options. You have the Wii remote and nun-chuck combo, Wii remote alone, the Classic controller or the Gamecube controller. Initially I used the Wii remote and nun-chuck, which this option is passable but still feels oh so clunky. You must shake the remote to do a weak attack, and press A to do a strong attack. Also when you use a special, you have wii remote and nun-chuck movement directions on screen that go with the action, such as moving it in a circle to charge up Bando's cannon, then the action will result in more damage on your opponent. I thought this was a nice way to give you a bonus and help you interact with the game, but along with the countless remote shaking this game becomes physically demanding really fast and it can drastically reduce your time playing it. Save the fact that you can use the IR pointer to throw ninja bombs on screen, the motion controls work but the game takes expense for it. Then there's the Gamecube controller option, which works more efficiently, is a lot less painful and tiresome, and more economically friendly than buying a new remote and nun-chuck, so it is without a doubt the best control option for Revolution 3.
Naruto Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 is easily the best looking in the series, but maybe just because the new updated looks of the characters brings out a whole new game rather than just a mere copy from last year. Each of the characters are cel-shaded and are good matches to the characters they are based off of, and the special moves have lighting and particle effects and are sights to behold. When there are two fighters in the arena, the frame rate stays smooth and the game's action is lovingly animated. But when there are four players, the frame rate dips down pretty far to keep up with all the action on screen. Also the sound seems to be cleaner than previous Clash of Ninja games, as well as the action is faster paced and more intense. Another thing I liked was the voice tracks. Because some of the characters seemed to have quirky interactions with one another, mostly because they have a specific love or hate relationship in the manga. Like when Naruto faces Sasuke, he cries "Why did you let me live!?" and he replies "I don't owe you an explanation". One of my favorites was when Hinata faces Naruto, she feints at the beginning of the match, and Naruto closes his eyes and says "Passing out? We haven't even started yet!"
Naruto Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 is without a doubt the best in the series so far, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Naruto and maybe people just interested in the fighting genre could grow interest in the Naruto series through this game. It's a simple yet deep fighter that will appeal to about any Wii owner and therefore stand as not only the best in the series, but one of the best fighters all around.