Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy (Nintendo Switch) Review

Game Title: Naruto Shippuden – Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy
Developer: CC2, Bandai Namco
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 3-5 hours (varies between the three games)
Download: 17.6 GB (the games can also be bought separately for smaller downloads)

Naruto is one of the great anime franchises that were featured in the Shonen Jump weekly magazine. I loved to read Jump in my high school years, yet I only seemed to really get into one of those franchises: Dragon Ball. I never really cared for what little exposure to One Piece I had, and I never really considered Yu-Gi-Oh! to be a manga franchise vs a TV franchise.

My exposure to Naruto has been an odd one in general. I played one of the PSP games’ Japanese Versions and watched the franchise through the battle with Zabuza and Haku in the first arc of the first series and, once I no longer could find episodes on TV, it dropped off my radar.

With the announcement that the Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy was coming to the Switch, I got back into it. I started watching the original series again and experienced Shippuden through my own research as well as the Trilogy, itself.

Now that I’m deep in the franchise again, here is my review of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy!

Story

Unlike recent Dragon Ball games, the Naruto UNS series has stuck to becoming the go-to video game place for retelling the story of the anime as it was shown, rather than being full of “What If” scenarios.

In terms of story, the trilogy covers the majority of the original and Shippuden anime series. The first game covers the entire “Naruto” series, while 2-3 cover Shippuden up to the climax of the Fourth Great Ninja War. Despite having some arcs left out at the end that UNS4 covers, this Trilogy will get you almost all major events of the Naruto and Shippuden stories.

The only problem with this aspect is how the first game handles its story. UNS2 and 3 have an amazing story focus and playing them feels almost no different from watching an anime. However, UNS1 only gives cinematics of a few major fights of the original series and for all others, gives you a couple sentences of summary that give you just enough to know why you’re fighting, but not nearly enough to understand much of anything about any of the characters outside of Naruto, himself.

There’s also the fact that it skipped some important events, like the Land of Waves arc that first reveals Naruto’s growth as a ninja. But overall, if you’re new to Naruto, UNS1 is not a good way to learn the first series’ story, despite 2 and 3 being amazingly-well-done ways to experience Shippuden’s story.

Gameplay

All 3 games in this trilogy are classified as action games, but I boil them down to being 3D fighting games with adventure elements in their Story Modes. You have large environments to explore in Story Mode but all of your battles will take place in 3D arenas as you fight opponents with melee attacks, ninjutsu, and support attacks.

Main Progression through the game is in 2 styles. In the first game of the trilogy, you do Story Missions from the Start Menu, but must explore a sandbox hub world to do side missions and mini-games to earn points to unlock story missions. This also means that the further you go in, the more side-missions you have to track down and grind out to unlock the next story bit.

In the other 2 games, you explore large, rendered areas as you make your way towards new story objectives and missions. They feel much more like adventure games in how the story pushes you to new areas and spawns new objectives for you. It is much more streamlined than the first game, and has all of the grinding and mini-games removed for the sake of story presentation.

The one thing they have in common, though, is combat. No matter which game you’re playing, you’ll be in 3D arenas with a semi-over-the-shoulder perspective as you fight your opponent. Nintendo fans could view it as a fast-paced version of Pokken Tournament’s Field Phase. You can freely run around, jump, throw projectiles, do melee attacks, charge up your energy, and launch special and ultimate attacks. The balancing of these attacks is different from game to game, but the main feel is the same across all three.

This also is where the story is thrown at you. In the two latter games and certain battles of the first game, you have story act out as you fight, be it in dialogue and cinematic quick-time events or giant monster battles with large summoned beasts. The way these progress really help the feel that you’re not just playing a game, but experiencing an anime series at the same time. It also helps keep things fresh with a constant variety of different kinds of battles as you play through each game’s story mode.

Now, the gameplay isn’t all good. The first game has some quirky mini-games for chase sequences and tree-climbing training, which become incredibly frustrating later on in the game. Not just because they become increasingly-difficult and precise with button inputs, but due to the grind-heavy nature of unlocking story missions, you will be doing these two mini-games over and over and over again just to get your next story fight and then have to repeat the process again when you’ve cleared it.

This also translates into the online multiplayer aspect of the games. The first game, once again, is the culprit. UNS1 does not have any form of online multiplayer, while UNS2 and 3 both do. This isn’t a Switch-specific thing. The original release of UNS1 didn’t have online, nor did this remaster trilogy on other platforms. But, it’s worth noting that if you’re buying single games for multiplayer, UNS1 doesn’t offer it.

Now, let’s talk about content and length. You’re getting 3 fighting games in this Trilogy for $40, but how much content are you getting? Each game’s Story Mode should take you at least 12-15 hours to complete, which puts the entire trilogy at around 36 hours, bare minimum. The third game also has some story-related post-game content, so that can add some more time, but Main Story-wise, you’re getting at least 12 hours per game.

Controls

Controlling the trilogy is pretty easy, mostly because almost all of the controls are the same between all three games. The only controls that differ is the Guard option, which goes from having multiple buttons to a single button.

Moving around is done with the Left Analog Stick and the Right Analog Stick can move the camera. The four triggers are used for guarding and Support Attacks. Then we have the face buttons. B is used for jumping and A is used for melee attacks. X is used to charge Chakra/Energy and Y is used for throwing Shuriken and Kunai weapons towards enemies. X can also be combined with Y or A for special attacks.

Overall, it’s a very simple control scheme to get behind, despite being slightly different from game to game.

Presentation

Graphically, this game looks very polished and good. In Docked Mode, I never saw many jagged edges on models outside of rendered stills in cutscenes. While you do see various jaggies in handheld mode, it still looks extremely polished.

Performance is wonderful as well. All 3 games run flawlessly during combat. The only time I saw frames drop were in a couple cutscenes and the pre-battle screen in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3.

Battery Life

This section could’ve been very extensive. Since the three games use up battery a little different from one another, I’ll give you my summary ranges for each one. If you wish to see all the hard numbers, check out my Switch Battery Life Chart.

Ultimate Ninja Storm: 3.75 – 4 hours
Ultimate Ninja Storm 2: 3 – 5 hours
Ultimate NInja Storm 3: 3 – 4 hours

While there isn’t a huge difference between games, it’s worth noting that you can squeeze 5 hours out of the 2nd game and about 4 hours out of each of the other games. It’s also worth noting that it doesn’t matter if you buy them separately or together. Those battery charges remain the same.

 

Summary

In conclusion, the Naruto UNS Trilogy has come to the handheld world with great optimization. While the 1st game really drags it down in terms of grinding as well as how it showcases its story, this is still a great way to experience Naruto Shippuden, be it a series fan or a newcomer. Just make sure you research the first series and don't use the first game of this series as your entrypoint of that portion of the story.

8/10

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