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Naruto: Ninja Council 3

by Karl Castaneda - July 18, 2007, 12:31 am PDT
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6.5

I'd like to believe it. I really would.

Naruto is a license that’s been lucky enough to be blessed with good games. The Clash of Ninja series is a very competent fighting franchise, and the critically acclaimed manga-amalgamation title Jump Superstars included Naruto’s main cast. D3 Publisher of America has also been bringing over the portable beat ‘em ups, known as Ninja Council here in the States. Ninja Council 3 is my first taste of the chain, and while there are a few promising facets, it all falls apart as a result of lazy design.

Ninja Council is based on completing a variety of missions (which can be accessed via large chunks in whatever order the player wishes) on a 2D, side-scrolling plane. This in itself would be fine, but the missions themselves lack any hint of effort on the part of the developer. Why do I have to kill 20 snakes in 60 seconds? I understand it might be part of the character’s training, but that doesn’t make it fun. I’d be able to let it go if it only happened occasionally, but when it takes up such a large portion of the experience, it’s a real problem.

This is a shame, because there’s a lot to like, otherwise. Other missions, like tracking down and fighting other characters from the story, are a lot of fun. Being able to teleport, pull off a sneak attack, and then disappear again before the other fighter can counter is really gratifying, and it makes for a lot of fun.

You’ll not only be able to play as the title character, but as the supporting cast as well, from Kakashi (Naruto’s team leader) to Sasuke (his rival) to Sakura (his love interest). They’ve all got their own special jutsus (magic attacks), which are executed by entering a touch-screen mini game where you’ve got to tap the correct seals in the right order in a limited amount of time. While I didn’t like having to switch from using the face buttons (which are used for melee attacks) to the touch screen so quickly, I still enjoyed the frenzy involved in trying to get the jutsu ready in time.

From a presentation point of view, there isn’t much of a change from the older GBA games. Still, the sprites are sharp, and the attack animations are smooth enough to pass by. Taking into account that this game was originally developed close to the DS’s launch, it’s not too shabby at all.

I really wish the missions were more meaningful, because the roots of a great 2D brawler are here – it just needs more time to mature. I can only hope that the next iteration of the series lives up the promise of Ninja Council 3, because if it can, it will definitely be a game I want to play.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6.5 5 7.5 7 7.5 6.5
Graphics
6.5

Ninja Council 3 isn’t a huge leap over the GBA games, but it’s still passable enough not to suffer from outdated technology. Taking into account that the game was developed several years before its localization makes it easier to accept its relatively primitive aesthetics.

Sound
5

There’s audio here? It’s not that the voice samples and accompanying tracks are bad – it’s just that they’re not good enough for you to notice them.

Control
7.5

While switching from the D-Pad and face buttons to the touch screen to perform a jutsu is a little cumbersome, it also adds to the frenzy of trying to get everything prepped in time before an enemy counters.

Gameplay
7

There’s a lot of promise in the battle system, and the missions that aren’t just slapped together are a lot of fun. But when most of the objectives are completely worthless, it’s hard to have a great time.

Lastability
7.5

Since you’re able to go back and replay any of the (well-designed) missions that you’ve already gone through, there’s actually a nice lasting quality to the game.

Final
6.5

As I said in the review, Ninja Council 4 just needs to bring over the great battle system from this game (with some minor tweaks) and apply them to better mission designs, and I’ll be able to whole-heartedly recommend it. Until then, I can only refer this game to hardcore Naruto fans.

Summary

Pros
  • Adequate presentation
  • There’s lots of promise in the battle system.
Cons
  • Lots of lazy mission design
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Naruto: Ninja Council 3 Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Tomy
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Naruto: Ninja Council 3
Release May 22, 2007
PublisherD3Publisher
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Naruto: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 3
Release Apr 21, 2005
PublisherTomy
RatingAll Ages
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