Games Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy (Switch, 2018): We Are Fighting Dreamers

Growing up, I was completely obsessed by the Naruto anime, to the point where I once went to a birthday party dressed as series antagonist, Sasuke. It was an embarrassing time. In 2018, Naruto and its sequel anime Naruto Shippuden have long since ended, with the once rambunctious and wild-spirited Naruto all grown up. Having achieved his lifelong dream of becoming hokage and starting a family, Naruto has passed on the reigns of his long-running media franchise to his son, Boruto.

The Naruto: Ninja Storm Trilogy has therefore come at the perfect time, as the franchise follows Naruto’s epic journey from the very beginning to its final end, making for a brilliant and nostalgic experience for new and returning fans alike. The game collection does a great job of adapting the rollercoaster storyline of the Naruto anime, although it does have a tendency to rush past key moments, particularly in its first entry.

The Naruto: Ninja Storm Trilogy contains the first three games from the fighting/adventure franchise, and covers the events of the original Naruto anime, all the way up to the emergence of Madara Uchiha. The final chapter of the story, Naruto Ninja Storm 4 is not in this collection and is currently unavailable on Nintendo Switch. What this collection does include is all three original games – Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst with all DLC and extra story chapters included.

The stylish cel-shaded graphics of the Ninja Storm Trilogy emulate the charm of the anime series well, although there are some minor issues with these graphics on the Switch. Environments and cutscenes look gorgeous, benefiting greatly from the new lick of paint, but most character models suffer from jagged and unsightly lines in handheld mode. The issue is somewhat improved in TV mode, and is far less noticeable in Ninja Storm 3 as it is in the original title. Even then, the issue is only minor and rarely affects gameplay itself.

Each game improves on the last, stretching the graphical capabilities of the Switch but never breaking them. The formula of the each game changes subtly too, with the series transitioning from a quest-based open world game to a more linear and structured narrative from the second entry.

The best part of the Ninja Storm Trilogy is its balance between adventure and fighting, with players able to explore and complete quests within a variety of familiar locations from across the franchise’s history, including the iconic Leaf Village. The quests themselves are simple but rewarding, allowing players to unlock new characters, moves, music, figures and more.

While the brilliant story and fun gameplay makes for a great package, the highlight of the Ninja Storm series by far is its ultra fun and quick-paced combat. Featuring stylish moves, fake outs and finishers, each fight feels fresh and exciting. Battles take place in a 3D arena, where players can utilise a variety of tricks and ultra powerful moves to defeat their opponents in high-flying, kunai-throwing, log-substituting action.

As players move through the story, battles will become increasingly more difficult, with evasion manoeuvres and substitutions coming into play. The difficulty is never unmanageable, however, and the simple controls mean that there’s relatively little challenge, particularly on earlier levels.

The series makes sure to highlight the very best fights from Naruto’s long history, from his first encounter with Gaara, to his stand-off with the Akatsuki, as well as epic fights between Sasuke, Itachi and more.

Those well-versed in the series (or feeling incredibly confident) have the option of playing online against a variety of opponents, although I personally had trouble sourcing match sessions in Ninja Storm 2, but found almost instant success in Ninja Storm 3, swiftly being defeated at the hands of someone playing Deidara. My time playing online was smooth and hassle free, a nice change from my usual trouble with Splatoon 2 connectivity.

The roster across each of the three games is phenomenal, with over 80 fighters to unlock. Many characters also have unlockable alternate outfits and a variety of finishing moves, making for a great range of customisation. Every major character from across the franchise is represented in free play, and delightfully, the later games also allows you the option of playing as younger versions of Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura.

Overall, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy is an essential, well-timed collection of Naruto’s best hits, bringing together a great bundle of games that are packed with hours of content. The titles are all incredibly accessible, feature hectic battles and a cast of great characters. The collection is a highly worthwhile adaptation of the classic anime franchise, and gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up from me.

Review Score: 8.0/10
Highlights: Hectic battles; great story; hours of content to devour
Lowlights: Some graphics issues, menial quests
Developer: CyberConnect2
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC

Review conducted on Nintendo Switch with a retail code provided by the publisher.