Review by redkclark - It's always a problem when a gaming series is in danger of becoming stale. When faced with such a dilemma, does the developer carry on regardless, in an attempt to quench the thirst of the die-hard fans' desire, or do they tear up the rulebook, wipe the slate clean, and search for more ways to keep others interested?
Naruto: Gekitou Ninja taisen 3 definitely fits into the first category. However, in this case there's nothing too bad in it. Tomy is definitely edging towards greatness with their solid fighting engine. Each incarnation brings some fantastically designed fighters, far removed from anything that has gone before, and each new fighter exploits the nuances of the fighting engine expertly. It's such a flexible engine that it manages all types of fighter, from the nimble to the powerful to the downright strange.
The main game system has been laid down in previous reviews, but in its third incarnation it has undergone a couple of changes. Now, each character has been given multiple Super moves. Previously, a tap on the X button with a full chakra gauge would unleash the super move, a move which is unblockable, and if it connects deals serious damage. In Naruto 3, there's a tiered system whereby certain supers can only be executed if pre-conditions are met. In the second game, Eighting experimented with letting certain characters perform multiple super moves, such as Rock Lee being able to perform Ura Renge. However, other characters now get an extra leyer to their special moves, and Naruto's signature Rasengan makes a welcome debut, which can only be performed if he is low on health. The game system relies on the player delicately balancing his chakra, choosing whether to save it for the big finish or drip feed it to themselves for kawarimi usage, and the tiered supers add another layer to this.
The parrying system has slightly changed, too. Many characters have moves with invincibility frames included, so that by anticipating an attack you can brush the incoming attack aside and counter in one swoop, without wasting chakra. The timing is rather tricky, and such hits are usually one-shot only strikes with little chance to follow up with a juggling combo, but it often pays to strike cautiously. Hyuuga Neji also has a parrying move himself, giving him a second to strike all incoming attacks away. Tomy has obviously looked hard at how to add depth to the evade game, and they've succeeded in making each match incredibly tense between high-level players.
All this would go to waste if the game added little in terms of game modes. Added to the Arcade and other standard modes (Time attack, Survival, etc) is the Mission mode; whereby the player must complete certain tasks during a match to pass them. Each mission has three difficulties (Genin, Chuunin and Jounin levels) and naturally the game has you jumping through tighter hoops dependent upon the difficulty. Each of the tasks is related to certain battles in the anime series, so non-Japanese speakers will have some idea of what to do in order to pass (naturally, only if they've kept up with the anime series). Some of the missions are fiendishly difficult, requiring superhuman ninja abilities with the pad, but never particularly unfair.
Most of the stuff is recycled, but you can barely tell the difference. Music, backgrounds, even complete characters have been lifted straight from one game into the next. While Tomy has taken some strides forward, they should really make a whole new game instead of recycling, making Naruto appear as if it's a yearly edition, rather than a sequel.
This game is quite stunning, it has very hi-rez graphics and Tomy really perfected it. The game just looks beautiful, that is all that there is to say about the amazing graphics that are in it. Graphics are the best part of the game because without them, you would be a blind man, just like a ps1 game.
The fighter roster has, predictably, swelled quite a bit. Some of the new characters are mundane, and rather similar to previous offerings, whilst others require a completely different tactic to utilise them effectively. Temari can cancel mid-air kunai (ninja knife) throwing into a swooping attack with her fan to catch opponents out, while Chouji is rather powerful and bulky, with attacks that have a high chance of hitting, but his combos aren't terribly suited to juggling the opponent.
Anime tie-ins are always dangerous ground ? many can appear to be completely terrible to people who have never seen the series but the Naruto Gekitou Ninja taisen games are different. The depth to the core fighting engine is sufficient enough to warrant plenty of friendly play, regardless of interest in the series. However, if you're an avid fan of the series, you can't be without this game.
|Graphics (10/10) Sound (10/10) Gameplay (4/10) Replay value (10/10) Overall (9/10)|