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Nintendo Switch  header logo

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy review - Plenty of bang for your buck?


For: Switch

Blow me away

Product: Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy | Publisher: Bandai Namco | Format: Switch | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy Switch, thumbnail 1
The problem with most long-running anime series is that you can't simply dive in at any point and expect to pick it up as you go along – you need to start at the beginning.

Naruto is one such anime, and one that, if you're not already invested in, can be incredibly tough to break into. Which also happens to be true of its fighting game counterpart Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm.

The first three main entries in the series have now appeared on Switch, and they're ever bit as impenetrable as the show they're based on – but there is something about each game that makes them remarkably playable, even for newcomers.

Naruto on the go

As the name suggests, the Ultimate Ninja Storm trilogy bundles the first three titles in the series together in one package. While each one covers a different story, combat remains largely the same throughout.

The main fighting takes place in 3D arenas, with two fighters squaring off along with two supports that can be called in once their meter is full.

You can chain together combos with relative ease by hammering the A button, throw shurikens with Y, jump about with B, and charge up special moves with X.



The special moves are the real highlight, coming complete with over-the-top cutscenes and huge explosions which are about as anime as it gets, and tearing off huge chunks of your opponent's health.

Fighting is pretty straightforward, but the battles can get quite chaotic due to a camera which seems hell-bent on making it impossible to track your own place in the battle for the sake of cinematic shots.

And while there's a lack of complex inputs, there's so many different systems and buttons in play that you'll easily lose track of how to pull off a certain attack and usually suffer because of it.

Worst of all, there's no tutorial to help guide you through any of this. No matter which game you play, you're just thrown into a battle with no guidance and forced to work it out for yourself.

Sorry, who are you?

While you get the hang of combat eventually, the game's story is a whole other barrier. Good luck if you're not already a Naruto fan, because Ultimate Ninja Storm will not be catching you up any time soon.

If you want to get invested wholly, you can play the first game in the series, but it's hard to recommend you do so. Ultimate Ninja Storm features a bizarre progression system where you're forced to complete side missions to carry on the story, thousands of endlessly respawning collectibles, a bland overworld you have to go end-to-end in every five minutes, and awful minigames which don't bear thinking about.

It's by far the weakest of the bunch, but if you want to learn the story of Naruto right from the off, it's your only bet – which is a shame, since the rest of the games are pretty enjoyable.

Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 thankfully throws out most of what made the original so painful, removing the open-world entirely for smaller free-roam areas more akin to a JRPG, and a heavier focus on combat.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy Screen 2

And Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 takes the gameplay from the second entry and builds on it with hack-and-slash sections, revamped fighting mechanics, and a frankly ridiculous number of characters to play as.

But don't think you can just dive into each one as you please. There's no recaps for the uninitiated, and few explanations as to what the hell's going on – you've got to suffer through the first game for that.

All that said, each game runs perfectly well in both docked and portable mode. If you're itching to take your ninja sagas on the go, this is probably the version of the game you should be looking into.

But that raises the real question – who is this game for? Ultimate Ninja Storm came out a decade ago, and if you're into your Naruto, you've probably played these games as they released over the years.

There's no new bells and whistles to attract you to the Switch version, beyond the fact that it's available on the Switch. And of the three games you get, the first is pretty duff, while the other two rely on you having played the original or being an enormous Naruto fan to get the most out of them.

Naru-no

Thankfully you can also buy each game individually, so if you're looking for a slice of the action, then you might consider picking up 2 or 3. But as a trilogy, unless you're already deeply invested in Naruto, it's unclear where the appeal is.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy Screen 3

Combat across the board is gorgeous, if a little simplistic, and the surrounding story is interesting in its own way and entirely baffling at the same time, unless you put the hours in to understand it.

And while it seems a bit "old man yells at cloud", the games really are a bit too confusing for newcomers. Even a brief recap or explanation as to who the heck anyone is would be great, but you're largely just left to figure it out on your own.

Fans of the show who haven't played the games are sure to get a kick out of the Ultimate Ninja Storm trilogy and being able to take it on the go with no noticeable drop in quality is a definite plus. The real question is, how many people like that are there?
 
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy review - Plenty of bang for your buck?
Reviewer photo
Ric Cowley | 7 May 2018
There's plenty of game here for your money, but the Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is a little too uneven to fully recommend
 
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