Naruto: Ninja Council 3
Review posted November 2007 by Edwin Kee
Anime fans would definitely have heard about Naruto and his exploits, so it is without surprise that this little ninja that could already have a number of titles under his belt in the world of gaming. While the DS platform has a multitude of gaming titles that cater across different genres, the beat 'em up section is sorely lacking in terms of quality games and Naruto: Ninja Council 3 aims to up the ante - it is not perfect, but at the very least it paves the way for something better in the future.
Naruto: Ninja Council 3 is a hybrid of the first two titles in the Ninja Council series, bringing together a mix of one-on-one matches and level-based adventure segments, resulting in a game that adds an extra layer of challenge that could be challenging to the first-timers of the series. There are over 20 characters from the show you can choose from, and you don't need to have prior knowledge of the anime in order to play this game. Though for fans of the anime series, the game provides more familiarity.
The game is mission-based, where the single player mode will pit you against a huge number of missions (60+ missions), where you must win in order to unlock new missions. As with any other game, your progress is marked with the availability of new fighters as well as acquiring the ability to share super powered attacks between them, making you a more effective fighting machine than ever before. The sheer number of fighter combinations is mind boggling, but you can choose to stick with a couple of favorite moves or experiment with the large number of combos (good luck with remembering what you did). Apart from the single player mode, you also get a multiplayer mode that allows players to fight man-to-man style, in a free for all frenzy or team fights. Unfortunately, single cart play is not supported here so you'll have to make sure your opponent has a copy of the game before getting started. Pity the DS version of the Ninja Council 3 does not support Nintendo's WiFi feature like Custom Robo Arena does - now that would've surely increased the longevity of this title.
One thing to watch out for in the game is the vast fighting arenas that could get too big for its own good sometimes, but thankfully there is the inclusion of a mini map at the bottom to help you maintain your bearings.
You don't really need an innate sense of timing with Ninja Council 3 as a fair bit of button mashing could do the trick, but as with any other fighting game, true masters don't rely on such a cheesy trick, instead they take pride in their split second timing as well as ability to read into their opponents' minds in an almost telepathic manner. I do find the physics in the game a bit tricky to master - it sticks out like a sore thumb especially in levels that come with a whole lot of platforming involved. The double jump isn't all that impressive, while you lose whatever little forward momentum you have previously gained each time you fall. Strangely enough, there is no option to perform super jumps at an angle, leaving you with a guessing game whenever you try to land on a small ledge.
Graphically, everything runs just fine on the DS. You won't experience any slowdown of sorts no matter how intense the action gets, which is essential in a fighting game since your sense of timing is essential when you try to execute moves. The sprites are also pretty well detailed, so you won't have any problem telling the difference when the action in game gets hot and heavy.
Audio wise, there really isn't anything much to complain about. Not only do you get to hear all bone crunching punches as they land along with a complete set of sound effects for each physical movement, the screams and shouts play back just fine at the right moment. The background music draws you into the game subtly, although it won't leave a lasting impact like other more legendary game titles.
The Ninja Council 3 is a fairly solid title where fighting genre games on the DS are concerned, although it could do better with a more fluid physics engine and button placement (the latter gets fairly hard to master whenever you try to execute complex moves). What it does do is bring the entire anime to life on the handheld, and on that point alone it is good enough to warrant a purchase. I would limit this title to those who are fans of the anime and love having some bone crunching battles. For those who don’t know about the anime series but want to give the game a try, this is definitely a worthy rental. While the folks in Asia can obsess on Jump Ultimate Stars (an awesome Japanese fighting game), the US gamers who don’t like to buy imports can feed their fighting hunger on the Ninja Council 3.