IGN Review of Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3
The orange-wearing, spunky ninja Naruto has starred in more anime episodes and manga issues than I'd care to count. Considering the franchise's focus on ninjas and the ninja way of life, it makes sense that videogame adaptations would come about -- and come about they have. For years, gamers have had a bevy of Naruto titles across numerous platforms to choose from, but a tragic majority of them haven't been worth the time and money. Fortunately, the Clash of Ninja series has taken Naruto quite seriously and the result has been surprisingly solid. With Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 hitting Nintendo's Wii, Naruto fans have a legitimate fighting game to enjoy that occupies everyone's favorite ninja-filled universe.
Clash of Ninja Revolution 3, developed by the same studio working on the anticipated Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, is an easy-to-learn, traditional fighter that takes place during the Naruto Shippuden timeline. Although the game has a fairly straight-forward interface and doesn't require a lot of advanced directional inputs, there's still plenty of depth to be found and competitive players will really enjoy what Revolution 3 has to offer.
Players can select from a huge roster of recognizable characters, both heroes and villains alike, though the majority of them are locked from the start and must be purchased at the in-game shop with Revolution 3's currency. This cash can be earned just by participating in battles, so players should have no problem pulling the curtain back on extra fighters, modes, stages and more.
When players jump into a match, they'll discover that each fighter has a weak attack, strong attack, generic flip throw (and occasionally a character-specific throw) and a powerful jutsu attack -- also known as a "Secret Technique." Characters can also perform evasive rolls into the foreground and background of the arena. When it comes to executing special attacks, players need only pair an attack button with a single direction in order to throw kunai, teleport around the stage and much, much more. Some of these techniques require Chakra from a character's Chakra gauge, which is positioned directly underneath the health gauge.
If you couldn't already tell, Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 is best played with a Classic Controller or a GameCube controller. Although using a Wii remote and nunchuk does technically work, it's so awkward and uncomfortable I couldn't imagine any serious fighting game fan using it. The same holds true for the motion controls, which can be used to perform weak attacks with a vigorous waggle of the Wii remote. No thanks.
When equipped with the right kind of controller and after a bit of practice, players will soon see why Revolution 3 is such a deep game. Although special moves are easy to pull off, similar to fighting franchises like Tekken and Smash Bros., Revolution 3 is all about excellent timing and anticipating your opponent's next move. Attempting to balance blocking with substitution jutsus, proper wake-ups and more make Revolution 3 much more than a button-masher. Players that rely too heavily on repetitive combos will soon find themselves fighting empty space while their opponent appears behind them for a devastating counter.
With every fighter behaving very differently in the ring (including some truly bizarre characters -- like Granny Chiyo -- who must be controlled along with her two independent puppets), Revolution 3 is a blast to learn. There's even more layers to the fighting mechanics when you introduce tag team combat, which pits a squad of two ninja against an opposing squad. In this battle type, players can not only call in their partner temporarily for a quick support attack (Marvel vs. Capcom 2 style), but they can also swap out fighters mid-combo to create some truly devastating strings. I already thought Revolution 3 was deep enough to be a legitimate fighter when dealing with one-on-one matches, but the possibilities for tag team battles are mind-boggling. Some characters even have special team Secret Techniques that can only be activated when both fighters' Chakra gauges are filled up.
The developers worked hard at making Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 as balanced as possible, even by inviting tournament-level players to play test it and examine the battle system for possible issues. I say that the hard work has paid off, as this appears to be a very balanced game, especially in comparison to the previous Clash of Ninja games.
Players will thoroughly enjoy the local multiplayer offered in Revolution 3, but I have my concerns with the online functionality. As welcome as online battles are in a Wii game, Revolution 3 is not without its fair share of lag. Although Revolution 3 was certainly playable, there were enough hiccups to deter me from playing further. I couldn't see hardcore players taking this mode seriously, because it just isn't conducive to highly competitive matches.
The only other notable blemish on Revolution 3's otherwise pristine surface is the Story mode. Screw Story mode. Never in my life have I seen a fighting game throw such unbalanced matches at the player. It's as if the entire mode was designed to frustrate you, and I just can't tolerate that. Pitting you (by yourself) against two more powerful characters that work in a tag team -- where they can recover their health when they're tagged out -- is just one of the many instances where I questioned the design of these challenges. These absurd battles culminate in a virtually impossible boss fight where your opponent is an abnormally powerful version of one of the characters, and doesn't follow the fundamental rules that the game is built on. It's maddening.
Fortunately, players are under no obligation to play through the Store mode, because you can unlock most everything else just by buying it in the shop.
©2009-11-12, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved