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Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3

Score: 89%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Tomy Ltd.
Developer: Tomy Ltd.
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Fighting/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:

Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 brings with it a few changes to the series, and most of them make for a solid and much improved Naruto fighting experience. While I still believe that the Ultimate Ninja line takes the license's top position, with CONR3, this series is hot on its heels.

One thing that Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 brings to the table is a facelift with crisper visuals and a much smoother feeling experience all around. While the series has been cel-shaded from the beginning, there is a noticeable increase in quality this time around that has been needed since the game made the jump to the Wii three titles back.

One area that has never suffered in a Naruto title is the audio, and this latest Clash of Ninja Revolution title is no different as the voice-actors take on their various roles again and not only lend their talents for in-fight grunts and shouts, but also for fully animated cut scenes that set up each of the fights in Story Mode.


Gameplay:

Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 starts off at the beginning of the new Shippuden series that takes place several years after Naruto has left the village to go training. Upon returning to the Hidden Leaf, he briefly catches up with his old friends and then goes off to the Village Hidden in the Sand to rescue Gaara (who has risen to the rank of kazekage in the intervening years). It seems Naruto's old rival has been kidnapped by the Akatsuki because he possesses the One-Tailed Beast, Shikaku. Joining Naruto on his mission is Kakashi and Sakura, but before the brief Story Mode wraps up, characters like Grandma Chiyo and Kanakuro will join the fight against Akatsuki members Deidara and Sasori. While the game's story does end at the conclusion of the Rescue Gaara arc, there are a few other fights thrown in to help appease fans. These include fights with Sakura, Hidan and Kakuzu, Sai, Yamato and let's not forget to mention the four exclusive characters created for Clash of Ninja Revolution 2.

Unfortunately, or fortunately when you consider the difficulty of the mode, the game's Story Mode doesn't last all that long. If you can get past the few very difficult fights without taking up too much time, you should find yourself through each of this mode's events in an hour or so. Just because you've run through it once though doesn't mean you are really done with this mode since it is the quickest way to unlock all of the other characters (a total of 40) in the game. What is a pain though are the tough conditions you have to meet in order to have these characters available for purchase, and then the tough task of saving up enough paltry winnings in order to actually buy them.

Outside of the Story Mode, the main draw of Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 is the series' new online capabilities. Using the Wi-Fi network, you can take your fights online in ranked or unranked matches against either random people or members of your friends and rival lists. The main problem here, and it's one that the few online Wii games come across, is the laggy and painful nature of online gaming over a wireless connection, and when you are talking about a fighting game that requires the kind of precision CONR3 does, only those who have been able to work through the lag are going to be able to stand on their own two feet in this mode.


Difficulty:

Through the use of the brawler-styled missions from the last game and the new tag-team abilities from this game, Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 ends up having some major difficulty balancing issues, primarily in the Story Mode. As you play through the game's story, you will find missions that have you and a couple of allies taking on one enemy, and as you would expect, these fights are cake walks. However, there are quite a few episodes that are the flip and have your lone fighter taking on several opponents, and when that happens, expect the fight to take a few attempts before actually progressing. It is this erratic difficulty that makes the Story Mode so painful to go through, much less go through well enough to unlock all of the characters.

Game Mechanics:

Like the last Clash of Ninja Revolution title, Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 lets you use pretty much any controller the Wii supports, and deciding which controller you will use will depend a lot on the type of fighter you are (or plan to be). While the Wii-mote/Nunchuck setup means you will get to swing and wiggle your controller around to perform many of the attacks, it also means you can try and pull off hand signs in order to do more damage or recover chakra. The problem is, the Wii-mote is far less precise than the Classic Controller or GameCube controller setup. Personally, this is the only game series that causes me to actually pull out those old controllers and use them. While the ability to use hand signs is good, I never find myself actually using them (whether it is because I simply forget, or because I just don't have the time in the heat of a battle), so the ability to perform those added moves isn't as important to me as the gamepad's response and familiarity.

Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 does a lot to help both this line and the license. For the most part, Naruto has had a fairly strong line of videogames, and while the Clash of Ninja series has been middle rung since the beginning, CONR3 far surpasses its predecessors making it one of the best fighting games I've seen for the Wii yet. Naruto and fighting fans alike should definitely look into this title, especially if you don't think you will have too many problems with the game's Story Mode and its uneven difficulty.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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