Since the Naruto series has made its way from Japan to the United States (and beyond), we’ve been seeing a mixed bag of titles along with it to satisfy gamers’ needs. On consoles, the Clash of Ninja series continues to excel, bringing iteration after iteration of a surprisingly impressive and deep cel-shaded fighter engine as version after version is localized for worldwide release. On the portable front, things aren’t quite as remarkable, as we’ve had two mediocre titles thus far on GBA with Naruto: Ninja Council, and Ninja Council 2. Now that the series has made its way to DS Mr. Uzumaki himself has a chance to begin again, and while Naruto Ninja Council 3 isn’t anything to write home about just yet, it’s a step in the right direction to say the least.
For whatever reason, the Ninja Council series just hasn’t found a perfect niche to fit into just yet. The series changes with every iteration, as it moves from one-on-one fighter to level-based adventure game, and now back to a hybrid of the two with arena-based mission and fighting levels added together. In Naruto Ninja Council 3 players have a chance to go head-to-head (to-head-to-head, actually) in up to four player bouts, utilizing over 20 characters from the show. Battles include anything from beating up wolves and bats with a character of your choice, to full-on battle royal fights between up to four characters.
Since the game is again mission-based rather than totally linear, players who dive into the single player mode will find a virtual bingo board of sorts to deal with. Each space on the board is another mission, and the more you win, the more you unlock. Along the way you acquire new fighters and the ability to share super-attacks between them (So Naruto could conceivably use fire-style jujitsu, the Uzumaki barrage, and leaf whirlwind during the same battle should you choose) making the overall amount of fighter combinations nearly never-ending. Also included is a fairly robust multi-card mode, which lets players duke it out in a variety of modes taken from Naruto Ninja Council 3. Battle in free-for-all or team fights with any of the fighters in Naruto Ninja Council 3; just be sure each player has a cart to do it.
As a straight-up arena fighter, Naruto Ninja Council 3 does a fine job at bringing the feeling and entertainment of the Naruto world to the DS. Players can run around gigantic 2D fighting areas similar to Jump Superstars or a more spread out Smash Bros., jumping, attacking, or using on-screen touch icons to unleash any of four selected super attacks. Included on the bottom screen is a mini-map, which also helps to keep the chaos in order a bit. Overall Naruto Ninja Council 3 a decent button-mashing experience, though the button layout is enough to drive any seasoned gamer crazy. The main three buttons – attack, run, and jump – take up the Y, B, and A spots respectively (with run being in the middle). While this works as long as you stick to the ground, holding in B to run while pressing Y over and over to attack, trying to pull off a jump attack or running jump attack is a total pain, forcing you to hold B, then press A, and then slide your thumb over to Y to actually attack. Why run or jump wasn’t added to L (a little used button, actually), or why the addition of pressing up to jump as an option wasn’t included is beyond us, and the result is a somewhat clunky button layout that manages to make a three-button setup difficult with six usable buttons. Just odd.
|Naruto Ninja Council 3|
|Exclusively on||Nintendo DS|
|Release date(s)||May 23, 2007|
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