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Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy (Nintendo Switch)By Flynnie At 07.07.2018 08:56

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Unlike previous Naruto games that have graced Nintendo consoles, the Ultimate Ninja Storm series is a 3D arena fighter that follows the plotlines from the anime and manga. They retain a simple control method that was first introduced on GameCube by only having one real attack button and non-threatening combos. The easy to pick up controls makes changing between the large roster of characters much less daunting when compared with the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat.

Each fighter controls similarly but all with their own unique special powers as featured in anime and manga. Unfortunately, despite the simplistic controls, there is at least something mapped to every button on the Switch controller, therefore, this set up requires each player to have dual Joy-Con or a Pro Controller each. This is somewhat of a letdown seeing as many other games, such as the Street Fighter II versions and FIFA 18, have catered to a single Joy-Con option for those looking at quick local sessions. Much can be said for the simplicity of the control scheme as this allows newcomers to feel comfortable, but there is enough variety for hardcore gamers to sink their teeth into. Playing through the evolution of games highlights how hard it is to go back to the original Storm and Storm 2, as blocking and substitution-jitsu are much harder to execute than they are in Storm 3.

The Ultimate Ninja Storm series pays fan-service to long-time fans of Naruto; CyberConnect2 did a great job to ensure that the player is fully immersed as the style of the anime is emulated perfectly. Unfortunately, the graphical fidelity isn't to the same standard set by the recently re-released ports on the Xbox One and PS4, particularly in handheld mode where the performance drop is more noticeable. The 540p resolution undocked gives a somewhat grainy effect; and while still perfectly playable it does put a slight dampener on the overall look.

In docked mode, Ultimate Ninja Storm plays at a more respectable 900p, although there could be questions asked as to why this isn't at 1080p. Of the three entries in the trilogy, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 fares the best in the graphical department, with large cut-scenes and detailed character models. The sound department fares better than the graphical output and doesn't disappoint with themes fitting for the Naruto universe. Voice acting can be switched between English and Japanese and the background music is a genuine representation of the show.

A variety of modes are present throughout, including Ultimate Adventure, Free Battle mode, and Online (not available in the original Storm). The Ultimate Adventure mode in the first entry features the hidden leaf village in an open-world hub environment where missions can be chosen at leisure; however, the objectives often feature long grind sessions that do nothing for the enjoyment factor. CyberConnect 2 reworked its approach for the second and third versions as the ambitious open-world hub disappeared. Instead, there was renewed focus on delivery of the story through fixed camera environments that allow travelling between A-B much more seamlessly.

Unfortunately, scaling back the ambition didn't make this any more enjoyable - rather the opposite, actually, as going between missions requires back-tracking to the same places repeatedly, which gets tedious very quickly. Storm 3 attempts to remedy this by consistently moving from one environment to another with minimal back-tracking. Playing through the Ultimate Adventure gradually unlocks characters to use in the free battle where players can pit themselves against other human opponents or against the CPU. The online modes are somewhat… quiet…as during the review process no players could be found on Storm 2 and matches were few and far between on Storm 3, something that will most likely be further compounded by the paid Nintendo Switch online service in September 2018.

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is a welcome surprise for Nintendo Switch, although eyebrows must be raised that the other consoles had Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy, which featured the fourth numbered entry in the series. Storm 3 takes players tantalisingly close to the end of the story (albeit in a non-canonical way), so the absence of Storm 4 is really telling. Purists that own a PS4 or Xbox One would be far better off buying the Legacy edition than the Trilogy on Nintendo Switch.

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Final Score
[i]Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy[/i] is a mixed bag; on the one hand, it is ideal for Naruto fans on the move who want to reconnect with three-quarters of the story on offer. However, on ther other, time has indeed taken its toll on the original two games so much so that it is hard to recommend them, especially as [i]Storm 3[/i] can be picked up individually for £16.99. If a PS4 or Xbox One is available, then it is strongly recommended to purchase the [i]Legacy[/i] edition instead, which features better presentation and the complete experience of the Naruto story.



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