So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3
Released a little over a year ago in Japan, Clash of Ninja 3 shifts the original Clash of Ninja's focus to Naruto's sequel series, Naruto Shippuden
- Solid presentation and large number of characters will please casual and hardcore alike, excellent online mode
- Can be very repetitive at times, a little simplistic, the English voice acting may be grating for some fans
Yet another outing for everyone's favourite obnoxious ninja, Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 proves itself decent fighter that allows its strong presentation to take centre stage thanks its relatively minimal frustration.
If TOMY's licensed games have taught us nothing else, it's that they are very good at catering to the fans, and Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja 3 is an excellent case in point. TOMY has once again created a fighting game that is not so much notable for its actual mechanics as the way in which it evokes the spirit of the series with its solid presentation and unobtrusive gameplay mechanics.
Released a little over a year ago in Japan, Clash of Ninja 3 shifts the original Clash of Ninja's focus to Naruto's sequel series, Naruto Shippuden, but retains the overall look and feel of the previous games. As usual, Tomy has done a great job with the cel-shaded graphics, and the presentation is clean and appropriate to the style of the series. Being a fighting game, much of the focus is on the online and versus modes, so the story is relatively short, primarily serving as an excuse to unlock more characters.
The story roughly traces the Rescue Gaara arc that comprises Naruto Shippuden's first 35 episodes. Being a relatively popular arc with the fandom, this is not the first time that this arc has been depicted in a Naruto video game, and it will likely not be the last. However, Clash of Ninja does a reasonable job of distilling the events of the story down to a series of battles featuring a wide variety of familiar characters.
Where it suffers is in the battle conditions, which tend to be fairly simple and repetitive. Victory is almost always a matter of beating a foe with a special attack, which can be frustratingly tricky at times. The attack meter charges quickly, but your foe's health needs to be low enough that they go down when the strike is unleashed. Otherwise they are apt to recover and pound you into paste. Further complicating matters are the occasionally imbalanced 2-on-1 battles, which can lead to some serious frustration.
However, the story only lasts around 17 fights, and is more an afterthought than anything else. It's there to diversify the content beyond the obligatory versus modes while giving fans a familiar vehicle by which to unlock new characters. In other words, it's mostly just a nice bit of comfort food.
The real meat of the game is in the aforementioned versus mode. There are more 30 characters to unlock over the course of the game, and most of the fun is in trotting them out against other human opponents. The actual combat mechanics are relatively simple, with most of the battles revolving around knowing when to use the power meter to flash out of the way and when to save up for a crowd pleasing special attack. The latter attacks appear early and often, and their cinematic nature means that every character has their chance to shine. The controls are solid (though you might want to stick to the classic controller) and the attacks are pleasing to the eye, but the downside is that they tend to appear a bit more frequently than they probably should, and they get repetitive after a while.
As you might expect, it would be a stretch to call Clash of Ninja 3 a deep fighting experience. There's enough depth to keep more experienced players engaged, but the combat is really geared around allowing fans to pick their favourite character and button mash their way to victory. That said, the online mode that is included is a pleasant surprise, offering a relatively lag free experience with the ability to store random opponents as "rivals." In this case, Tomy has gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide a mode that is not just unobtrusive, but pretty darn good.
Clash of Ninja 3 is successful because the competent gameplay allows fan-pleasing elements like the presentation to take center stage, but it's nice to see such genuine bright spots as well. Conversely, the frustrations are kept to a minimum, resulting in an experience in which fans can pretty much sit back and enjoy the ride.
A step forward for fighting games? Not exactly. But it's certainly a tasty bit of comfort food for the fans.
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