Exactly how many Naruto games have been released in Japan? It seems every few months we receive a port of some kind in America. That's both a good and a bad thing. On one hand fans on this side of the pond have something to sink their teeth into without having to pay hefty import prices. On the other hand, there's a certain level of over saturation that comes from minimally improved games that don't necessarily move the meter.
Namco Bandai has been the publisher releasing the majority of these games, and the franchise has found itself on every console and handheld. There are different iterations for each separate game franchise; however, and in the case of the PSP, the latest incarnation has been Ultimate Ninja Heroes. The third installment was recently released, and we've had quite a bit of time with the game. How does it stack up to its predecessors? For that matter, how does it fare as a fighting game in general? Let's have a look.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 quite obviously features trappings from the long-running sequel anime. If you're coming to this review, then we'll just assume you already know what Naruto is all about. Why bother recapping an already well-established franchise when a game is marketed directly towards the fanbase anyway? All one really needs to know is that Shippuden is the evolution of the franchise. It's a step forward in terms of years and focus from the original, and introduces a whole new cast of characters.
In Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 the game follows a storyline that's presented through the Master Road mode. This mode basically mashes together some of the arcs from the series and features a new side story as well. Neither is really handled effectively, and if players haven't seen Shippuden they'll most likely be lost in some instances. The original storyline included in this game is appreciated, but feels like a tacked-on and pointless diversion. It's not quite up to the quality of filler episodes from the series, and really feels kind of sloppy, but I digress. This is a fighting game at its core, and in that sense I suppose a story isn't necessarily the main focus.