Fighting games are finally going online with solid results, a trend seemingly kick started by Capcom's Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix. Now, fans of the Naruto anime get to (hopefully) join the tide, as the long-established Clash of Ninja series jumps into the series' next generation and onto the Nintendo Wi-Fi online service with Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3. Unfortunately, the online portion wasn't demonstrated on the E3 show floor, but the gameplay was just as good as ever.
For those who aren't into Naruto, the Clash of Ninja series is one of four different fighting game series based on the highly popular franchise, thanks to deals that resulted in different publishers getting the rights to the games on different systems. Tomy even created two separate series for the Nintendo corner. Out of these, however, Clash of Ninja is frequently the most enjoyed by hardcore fans, with its four-player combat and manic pace. It has proven over time to be very friendly to party play while offering a decent range of depth, making it worth a look to even the kind of player who is about to go nuts with BlazBlue — especially on the Wii, which suffers from a dearth of fighting games.
Essentially a random selection of 10 characters was available in the playable demo. Attacks were based around one button and variations on how it was pressed, in conjunction with analog stick motions. In terms of what was blatantly new, the only things I noticed were a slightly more traditional Japanese style on some graphics and the fact that the game's Jutsus (super moves) are even more over-the-top than ever before. It's fitting, given that combat in Shippuden can be highly indulgent.
The game will cover the first several arcs of Naruto Shippuden, but Tomy wasn't too specific about how far things would go. The goal is to have around 20 playable characters and have it run smoothly online; it's a tall order if there ever was one, as most fighting game fans will tell you from past attempts.
Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 looks better than ever before, notably avoiding some of the previous game's pitfalls and clearly demonstrating Tomy's acquired prowess with the Wii version. Since the game is essentially a translation (albeit one with new features, like the online mode), there were very few major signs of the game still being in progress.
Naruto games may represent one of the biggest aspects of the franchise, and Tomy is once again showing its expertise in this area. They hope to make Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 the greatest release that the entire series has seen yet. From what we've seen thus far, this title could be the most enjoyable one of all.
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