Video review to follow shortly 

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: ULTIMATE NINJA STORM TRILOGY Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: CyberConnect 2

Publisher: Bandai Namco

 

Release Date: 27th April 2018

Price as of Article: $39,99 USD, £44,99 GBP or £16,99 for each game individually.

The game code was provided by Bandai Namco for review purposes. Opinions are our own. 

Size of file 17gb

Introduction

Let’s start out by stating what the package includes. For £44,99 or $39,99 in the USA you get Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 and lastly Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst which have all been remastered since they were released originally on the PS3.

This package does not include Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road to Boruto which is a shame as the Ultimate Naruto: Ninja Storm collection was released on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One in 2017 which included all 4 games in one package so some may be disappointed. I assume the fourth instalment will come later to the Switch as a stand-alone game at some point in the future.

Purchasing digitally gives you the benefit of being able to buy them individually for £16,99 in the UK or $19,99 each in the USA which will come in handy for those of you who may have one, or more, of the games in your collection already on other systems. Some may wish to double dip but at least there is flexibility. Curiously the trilogy is much cheaper on the USA eshop compared to the UK.

Someone in the UK purchasing the trilogy from the USA for $39,99 will get this package for an incredible £29,02 in today’s exchange rate when compared to the UK price of £44,99. Individual prices in both the UK and USA compare which makes this pricing decision very odd indeed. The digital copies include most of the DLC as stated here by Bandai Namco;

“The digital-only collection will feature many of the DLCs released for the original games like Sasuke’s kimono costume and let the players choose between beloved heroes and villains like Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha, Pain or Obito Uchiha to lead into battle.”

For those of you who are avid collectors then you have the option of buying the game physically but there is a catch; you will have to import it from Japan.  That copy is not localized and is a lot more expensive which is a shame considering the story does play a big part in this series. There is no word whether the physical edition will be released in the West yet.

Before the review begins I will be reviewing the games in this package as a whole and will rate the package as it was presented to me by Bandai Namco with a copy of the game for review purposes. Jordan and Lachlan bought their own copies of the game and also provided insight and helped with parts of this review. Now let’s find out if it’s worth your hard earned cash!

Story

The Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy follows the story of the Naruto and Naruto Shippuden anime and manga. Beginning with the battle between the fourth hokage and the nine tailed fox, culminating in the spirit of this beast being sealed within a baby boy. That boy is Naruto Uzumaki. Because the spirit of the nine tailed fox is locked inside of him, the rest of the hidden leaf village shuns him. As his parents died during that battle, he is left to fend for himself, feared by the townsfolk and causing mischief just to be noticed. That changes when he becomes a genin, a ninja in training. From there, you follow Naruto’s rise from playing ninja to becoming one of the most dependable ninja’s in the hidden leaf village. His claim to become the next hokage slowly transforms from a pipe dream to something a lot more tangible.

The first game in this package follows the original series, covering all the major arcs. Those arcs are the Genin Training Arc, Chunin Exam Arc, Leaf Destruction Arc, Tsunade Search Arc, and the Chasing Sasuke Arc. Once you hit the second game, you then step up into the Naruto Shippuden series, which takes place 2 years after Naruto returns after taking off to train with Jiraiya. The second game moves all the way through the Pain Invasion Arc. The third game then picks up after the end of the second, taking place mostly in the Five Kage Summit Arc and the Fourth Great Ninja War Arc.

There is a reason Naruto was one of the most popular anime and manga series, and it wasn’t just the excellent battles and animation. The story is very well thought out and realised. Each character is dripping with personality and backstory, and the story overall is clearly the series biggest strength. The games do a good job of translating it into a fun story to play through, though those characters backstories do suffer from the more truncated versions of the arcs these games tell. That said, this ends up being a small drawback in what is a well-told story.

Audio

The audio is really top notch for all three games in the series. All three of them were composed by Chikayo Fukuda and she has done an excellent job. When you think of anime themed games, you don’t always associate them with stellar soundtracks but this Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy really has it spot on.

What impressed me most was just how much depth there is going on in the soundtracks. Ranging from grungy guitar rifts to some rather beautiful melancholy efforts with cellos and a piano. It can be epic or it can be dainty mixed with eastern elements too. I’m very impressed overall considering the expectations I went in with were rather low. 

Check out our gameplay video to hear the wonderful audio for yourself.

 

I honestly wouldn’t be able to separate the three soundtracks into an order of greatness since they are all equally impressive. What I did notice was that the confidence in the soundtrack grew over time. The original is rather grounded and safe but becomes more experimental as the series goes on.

There is voice acting here and it’s all fully localised in English. That’s something that’s been falling by the wayside these days when games make it from Japan to western shores so it’s really nice to see that they’ve gone to the effort in these releases. It’s pretty well done too, I didn’t find them annoying at any point which is always a danger when it comes to games like these. But as you can also see in the soundtrack, the production around these games is above and beyond what you would normal expect.

For those of you wanting to play the game in Japanese, you also have the option to change it in the options and to have English subs if you require them. This is an excellent addition to the games.

Visuals and performance

All of these games when originally released were beautiful but the remaster has added extra polish and glean everywhere. The first one probably shows its age slightly but that’s to be expected.  I fully recommend you to take a moment to enjoy those loading screens. I found the visuals to be stunning in both handheld and in docked mode but what is also really impressive is the way the games run. They are super smooth at 30FPS.  I didn’t come across many problems which detracted me from the experience in any of the 3 games. Cut scenes are epic and boss battles look awesome taking up the whole of the screen in some cases.

I loved the way you can see the differences in visuals in each game. The first release being a lot more raw, representative of a young Naruto with the second becoming more accomplished, having more detail and the town itself feeling more alive. The cel shading used on the character drawings along with the colours utilised is fantastic.  As with any fighting games animations need to be spot on which they are, and I am pleased to say that these improve with each game. By the time you get further into the series, parts of the levels can be destroyed when fighting making it more immersive.If you love the style of the televised series then the game is a very faithful recreation of the characters.

 

Gameplay
Modes

First of all, let’s cover the modes and how they grow through the three games. In the first game you have the Ultimate Mission mode or Free Battle mode, where you can battle against a COM or friend locally, and these two modes run throughout all three games (with Ultimate Mission mode name changed to Ultimate Adventure in two & three). In part two and three you also have online modes where you can fight against other people all over the world. I would recommend playing the online mode in part three if this is your preferred mode as it is a more fully realised online mode allowing for ranked matches, unranked matches and tournaments. You are able to customise which card your character portrays and these can be unlocked and bought in the towns shops which is a nice touch. For those that like the Free Battle modes, again these are expanded throughout the series, in part one it is quite limited but by part three you can play in vs battles, tournaments, practice and take part in challenge missions.

All about the story

What strikes me about all three games is how significant of a role the story plays across the trilogy. In the past I have seen fighting games trying to implement this type of approach which always feels like a bit of an afterthought but not here.  This is not your typical fighting game where you fight through 10 rounds, reach the end and you are more or less done. No Sir! This has a full story mode in which you will take part in a number of missions and activities from exploring the town, chatting with NPC’s, taking part in quests and moving the story forward whilst also taking part in both team battles and single battles along the way.

The first game is broken up into a number of key story missions which propel the game forward and free play missions which are separate to the story  The activities you take part in range from trying to find children hiding in boxes throughout the town, flying Ninja style through trees, running up a tree and, of course, the battles, which sometimes have certain conditions you must meet like finishing off the fight with a special move. The trilogy bundle is fantastic to buy for people new to the series because it allows you to dive in and pick up the story from where this game series starts. As you make your way through each game the story grows and feels like it is more confidently told, it feels like the developers also grew with this series. It is great to experience this journey.

Where is the tutorial?

One thing I found missing was a lack of a proper tutorial teaching you how to fight in part one which is where I, of course, started.  What I loved about the series is how the combat system evolves through each iteration. Part one really laid the foundations of what came after, and the developer was able to build on the first part to make the second and third games feel more fluid.

Battles are fun

The battles are really fun and tight but I found them hard to get into at first as I had no idea what I was doing. You will have to teach yourself the moves by going into the options menu and seeing how to pull them off for yourself. I recommend you spend time doing this, or it will be difficult. The moves you can utilise in the first game are massively over the top when you pull of an Ultimate move often taking you out of the experience for a few seconds. I loved successfully pulling them off and it never got old. In parts two and three the moves are still powerful but they flow much better and the Ultimates don’t take the player out of the experience for too long. The evolution of the games always moved in a good direction. To become really successful you will need to practice how all the moves complement each other, the best way to pull off combinations and when to use your Ultimates at the right time.

Some of the Free Missions in the first game are broken up into ranks of S, A, B, C and D with S being the hardest ones to finish. I found some to be really difficult even in normal difficulty. You will need to complete battles with certain conditions such as successfully activating special moves at certain times or using an Ultimate to finish off a character. If you don’t learn how to use these skills, you will never complete these missions, so it does require patience and practice.

In part one missions can be accessed from the mission menu so you can choose side missions or main story missions. Some of the main missions will require a certain amount of XP to access them and certain side missions will have to be unlocked first. The XP can only be gained through side missions to open up main story ones. Part two and three handles the mission structure differently in that you don’t have the same type of flexibility. Some will prefer this and others won’t.

Controls and moves

The controls, combos and special moves are all easy to wrap your head around, but using them all together is difficult to master. You have your basic attacks which are your physical punches and kicks. What combos you perform change depending on if you are running, moving or standing still, and there are some more complicated combos you can pull off by mixing in a direction with your standard attacks. You also have the ability to throw shurikens which can be combined with your jumps to do some interesting things with your movement. To mix things up further team battles add two other AI players who you can tag into battles by pressing L or R and can even be used together to pull off team moves which are great entertainment.

If you double tap the jump button, you will do a dash towards your opponent, and if you connect, then it will stun your enemy opening them up for a combo. There is also a chakra button which activates a blue aura around your character. This is how you activate special moves. Using your chakra and pressing the attack or shuriken button will activate a special move. Double pressing the jump in this mode makes you perform a run move that will deflect shurikens. It will home in all the way to your opponent which is much more effective than your standard dash move. Pressing the chakra button again will make your aura more intense and allow you to pull off your Ultimate attack. These moves start a button mashing mini game that if you succeed will do an over the top move which will deal a significant amount of damage to your opponent. If you need to replenish your chakra, you can just hold the chakra button down, but this will leave you open, so you need to be careful.

In parts two and three there are some awesome boss battles which require pressing buttons at the right time. In the latter games this evolves to where the quicker you press the buttons the more secret little story scenes will unlock which is fantastic. In part three there are parts of the game where you can choose whether to go down Legend or Hero route and you choose a path with Legend paths often being more difficult but also more rewarding. There are parts where you have to take out multiple enemies in rooms stringing moves together and throwing in mini button games to keep the combos and flow of attacks going. This was a fantastic change up as it was different to your normal battle matches and were really fun. Games two and three are both a lot more story heavy with many more dialogue and cut scene sections and traversing the maps was also similar.  I had no trouble with the games trying different things as it kept them fresh and kept me entertained and interested.

Items are also used in battles, you can use the Dpad to activate whichever items are assigned. You may need to chuck a bomb or gain a little health boost. Awakening in battles can also give you an advantage and is activated when your life bar is drained. Some characters are boosted with extra attack power or speed in this state.

All three games share these mechanics, but each one builds on them slightly from the first game. The most notable differences are quite minute but significant. The controls get tighter through each iteration. The games get better at locking your attacks onto your opponents which reduces some of the first game’s frustrations from missed attacks which cropped up sporadically. The camera movement and positioning also improves making the experience get better and better as you progress through the series. With each game, more characters are also added to the roster, so there are plenty of choices in battle mode.

Three excellent games

If you have never played these games before, then just know that if you invest in this trilogy, you will have three excellent remastered games which have something for everybody. I personally enjoyed the story modes and spent many hours on these part of the games. I also spent a lot of time just milling about town finding scrolls and chests in part one. Part two and three use a slightly different formula removing some of the stuff I really enjoyed about part one like smashing pots with shurikens or throwing myself from building to building. Part two and three allow you to jump and run and thats about it when traversing the map. You can explore to find hidden items but it doesn’t have that same sense of freedom.

Online is good but setting up a session with friends is not as easy as it could be

I really liked each game and seeing how they grew and expanded on the story, it’s like consuming two or three seasons of your favourite series even though they may have been brought out years apart. Whilst some series falter and never regain from there early premise but this one gets stronger and stronger. Some may want the game for Online battles or Free battles and if thats the case your probably better off with part three as it’s the more accomplished fighting game in my experience.  Be aware if you want to fight friends online that the only option you have is setting up a session, the problem with that is if someone else enters that session you have to keep kicking them out until your friend finds you. This could easily be rectified allowing players to set up private sessions. Otherwise online was stable and ran well. I personally had more luck finding online fighters in part three than in part two.

Value

At £44.99, this Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy presents incredible value but you can get it even cheaper from the USA eshop where this is priced at only $39,99 saving someone in the UK another £16!

You are getting three games for the price of one and, not only that, they are huge games to boot! For full completitionists out there you’ll probably get a hundred hours out of this collection, although even if you are not into that sort of thing but want to play the standard game, you’re looking at a very solid game length at around 45 or so hours not including other modes you may wish to play.

Back in the day you would have easily paid this price for just one of the games and I’m sure many of you out there did. The reduced price is a wise decision from Bandai Namco and it’s a great incentive for Naruto fans to give it another shot even if they previously bought it.

 My only wish is that a physical copy is released in the West so I can buy it for my collection. 

Pros

P

A fantastic story mode in all three games

P

Beautiful remastered visual and wonderful audio

P

Fighting mechanics feel great

P

Something here for everyone to enjoy

Cons

P

No real tutorial in first game

P

Some side missions with added conditions can be very difficult