|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: CyberConnect2||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 11, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Almost ten years ago, a spiky blonde Ninja named Naruto burst onto the scene and became an instant hit in both Japan and the US. Although, Naruto has become a staple in both the anime and video game world, enthusiasm for the series has cooled in recent years. However, that hasn't stopped the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja franchise from forging ahead. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 is the latest title in the PSP-only Ultimate Ninja spinoff series. As a spinoff of one of the many series that have been spawned by the Naruto franchise, you can expect a lot of rehashed content from other entries in the Ultimate Heroes series, as well as other Naruto games.
The story in Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 is the same story that we've seen in basically every Shippuden title produced thus far. Naruto has just returned from his journey with the Senin Jiraiya and returns to find Konoha almost exactly as he left it. However, trouble is brewing in the Sand nation, and it seems that the nefarious Akatsuki organization is behind it. This is all very familiar territory for Naruto fans, and though there are some new elements to the story, it is mostly well-tread ground, which makes it a bit boring for fans who have played other Shippuden games. If you haven't played other Shippuden games and are looking for a game to tell you the story of Naruto Shippuden in a cohesive manner, this title isn't for you either, as it assumes familiarity with the Naruto universe and doesn't go into much detail about the events presented in the narrative. No matter which way you approach it, the story in Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 is just not up to par.
From a gameplay standpoint, Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 does a little better, but if you are tired of the same old Ultimate Ninja formula, steer clear, as there is not much new in the battle system. However, the format of the game has actually been revised quite a bit and does feel fresh. When you start up the story mode, you are able to view cinema-style plot scenes, take on missions, and purchase power-ups for your character to use. The power-ups are an interesting element to the gameplay, and you can try different power-ups for difficult levels and play to your tactical strengths.
Much like other Ultimate Ninja titles, Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 boasts a robust collection feature that allows you to unlock small figurines and wallpapers to look at after completing special missions and spending in-game currency. The collections feature doesn't really enhance the gameplay, but if you are a Naruto completionist, getting these little in-game items can add some substantial replay value.
However, once you've played through the story and gotten all the collectibles, there isn't much left to do. While other fighting games have supplemented story modes with survivor, challenge, or online modes, Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 only has a computer versus mode and an ad-hoc multiplayer mode. Though it is nice to have ad-hoc multiplayer and support for four-player brawls, these options don't make the game feel as complete as it should.