Over the years there have been numerous games that expand on the popular Naruto anime series, some good and some terrible. Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 (CNR3) is the most recent of these and brings a competent fighter to the Wii. CNR3 features a host of characters from the show (including the more annoying ones) as well as many familiar locations.
The game supports input with the Wiimote, Wiimote plus Nunchuk, Classic Controller and GameCube controller. The first two options feel incomplete and awkward, and take a lot of getting used to. When using the Wiimote-chuk you have wiggle the Wiimote to perform a weak attack – this will have you shaking like an electrocution victim and just doesn’t work. The more traditional controllers allow for more fluid coordination, which makes life much easier.
Once you’ve come to grips with the controls, CNR3 presents a satisfying combat experience – characters are responsive and there is plenty of variety on offer. While the overall approach is not as complex as most fighting games on other consoles, CNR3 still provides a comprehensive battle system without requiring you to mash buttons like a hyperactive 9 year old. Each character has strong and weak attacks, a throw and a specific jutsu technique. As you’d expect, incorporating these with direction commands permits additional moves such as kunai, paper bombs and spectacular combo attacks. The one benefit of the Wiimote-chuck is the addition of hand signs which are entered with gestures and give various in-fight bonuses (but don’t make up for its suckiness). Many manoeuvres are powered by chakra which accumulates over time or by beating the snot out of your foe, and skilful use of this is a core component of the game.
You’ll be kept on your toes in every battle – timing and precision for both attacks and evasion, as well as opponent anticipation are crucial for you to prevail. If you stick to the same combos you’ll quickly end up eating dirt and whining about it in Japanese. Each of the 40 characters has a very distinctive style which requires you to adapt (but not excessively so) which keeps things interesting.
Story mode, while humorous, is a letdown, lacking the depth to appeal to Naruto fans and confusing to non-fans. Although it does put you in control of a variety of characters it is unbalanced and frustrating – for every overly-easy smackdown there is an unreasonably difficult fight. But this a minor problem, as few people will buy this game for the single-player experience.
Multiplayer is tons of fun, with up to 4 players supported in an array of game types. 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2, tag team and more means that there is a lot on offer for you and whatever friends you can round up. Things can get pretty hectic, compromising the nuances of the combat system, but this does not detract from the enjoyment of beating several kinds of cel-shaded crap out of your friends.