Naruto has been turned into numerous video games, and the series is no stranger to being given the fighting game treatment. Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 is an exclusive to the PSP, and I don’t really understand why. The point of the fighting game isn’t to sit on the bus and play by yourself – it’s to have friends over and battle all night or go online and see how you fare against others with the game. The PSP does a lot of things very well, but multiplayer isn’t one of them. You either need to know another person with a PSP and a copy of your game of choice or a wireless access point and the good fortune to find an opponent online. Sadly, I don’t know anybody else with Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3, and I couldn’t find anybody to fight with online.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 has you covered though. The single-player story is lengthy, and that’s great if you aren’t familiar with the Shippuden stories. If you are there isn’t any new content here. This bothers me for one reason, Naruto games are aimed squarely and Naruto fans, and if anybody is going to be familiar with the stories presented in the manga and anime it’s fans of the series.
Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 feels a lot like its predecessors. The fighting system is still criminally simple, and the graphics still convey the feeling of a living anime well. Hit circle to attack, and specials are executed by pressing triangle and then circle. There’s a balance to be struck when it comes to pulling off moves in a fighting game. You don’t need every move to be as difficult as the fatalities from Mortal Kombat nor do you want every move to be as simple to pull off as the standard light punch from Street Fighter 2. Unfortunately, Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3’s fighting system is that simple, and it hurts the game. There’s much less emphasis on deciding what you’d like to do and pulling it off well and more emphasis placed on mashing on the circle button until you win a la 1980s brawler arcade games. One new addition for Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 is four-player battles. More fighting games need four-player battles. The more friends I can get in a room who can participate in a game the better.
For the Naruto fans there are a ton of unlockables and characters to choose from. In order to get the unlockables you’ll need to collect Ninja Points by completing missions (single player fights). The things available for purchase include character art and movies – if you like Naruto then you’ll dig unlocking the various goodies.
Unless you’re a die-hard Naruto fan and need your fix on the road then pass on Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 and pick up a copy of BlazBlue, Super Street Fighter IV, or Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom for one of the consoles. That way you’ll be playing a fighting game with a better combat system on a bigger screen against friends in your home or opponents online.
Plays Like: Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress
Pros: Lots of extras for fans to unlock
Cons: Shallow fighting system, familiar story to fans of the anime