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Naruto Shippuden 3D: The New Era Review (Australian Exclusive) - -

Gameplay 7.2
Graphics 7.5
Sound 7.0
Value 7.0
Distributor: AIE
Peter Bourke


Naruto Shippuden 3D: The New Era

Naruto Shippuden is an institution in itself and has spawned everything from cartoon series, games, movies and more merchandise than you can poke a stick at. So for the uninitiated, Naruto Shippuden is the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a young Ninja who is basically a hero and gets involved in all sorts of trouble which generally has him saving the day. Given these aspects, Naruto Shippuden is definitely aimed at the younger market and this game is based on these diverse characters from the series in this side scrolling fighter with elements of 3D thrown into gameplay to spruce things up. Ironically, the 3D looks rather impressive for a game of this calibre.

The story of Naruto Shippuden 3D: The New Era revolves around hero and protagonist Naruto who has once again been called to action in order to investigate why five villages in these lands have declared war. Even though it's a clichéd story and with only a limited knowledge of Naruto Shippuden, the developers of the game have actually put some thought into the storyline and best of all, it does not penalise the gamer if they have no knowledge of this vast universe. Given that, it does help if you know who the key characters are but you can still pick up the 3DS and start playing... just like me!

As a veteran gamer, Naruto Shippuden 3D: The New Era at times reminds me of the excellent arcade series Shinobi which do share some similar elements. The game is also similar to the Ninja Academy series by Tomy who also created this title. In essence, the game is basically an arcade fighter from yesteryear but with 21st century elements as you explore the environments and search for items, scrolls (currency) chakra points (power-ups) and bonuses to improve your chances of victory. Combat although simplistic has been well mapped on the 3DS as you can perform a few different combat manoeuvres when you're not jumping or navigating through the environment. Even for some of the harder moves like jumping from walls or charging, it works quite well with the control system.

Apart from the touch screen being used to call your back-up characters, the developers have cleverly included the gyroscope feature of the 3DS into the game via quick-time events. For example, you may need to move the console to the right in order to dodge an attack from the boss. I wasn't a big fan of this implementation into the game because it seems too forced and you really need to rough house your console to sometimes perform these manoeuvres

Thankfully these quick-time events don't occur that often and the player also access to a combo move that can be used to finish off an opponent in almost Mortal Kombat like fashion. As a break between levels, you will visit a dojo (shop) where you purchase a variety of power-ups and additional characters, provided you have collected enough scrolls along the way. It may not be the most original gameplay of 2011 but it's actually quite fun on the 3DS, apart from those frustrating gyroscope capabilities.

Apart from playing Naruto, the gamer can also select other characters to assist in the game which are chosen just before the level and these characters (straight from the series) can be used to assist in the levels or helping get past an obstacle such as an environment block.

Given that most levels are relatively the same, Naruto Shippuden 3D: The New Era is quite a linear game and once you have completed it, it does offer little incentive to finish the title again, unless you want to find all the items in the game and attempt to better your last attempt. The problem with the main gameplay in the title is that once you have finished a level, you can then replay it again in order to beat your previous attempt. You are then awarded a medal on how well you performed. For me, once is generally more than enough.

Graphically, the title is quite slick on the 3DS and even though in essence, it's just a 2D side scroller, the developers allow Naruto to jump from the foreground to the background. When you add the element of 3D into the game, it creates a fun and colourful game that has some nice depth perception. The animations do mimic an old school approach and actually mimics those Hong Kong action movies. Although there is no voice acting in this title, the game contains some outrageous sound effects and some Naruto inspired music from the cartoon series that ranges from heavy rock to more ambient background tunes. It would have have been nice to include some voice acting but alas it was not to be.

In conclusion Naruto Shippuden 3D: The New Era is a strong enough title on the 3DS and thankfully doesn't fall into the drivelware category. It may not be the most original game of the year but it does contains some fun old school game. Unfortunately the gyroscope aspect of the game is not only annoying to use but is not that accurate. If this was removed, Naruto Shippuden 3D: The New Era would have definitely been a strong gamer. Needless to say, if you're a fan of the series, you should still check it out!


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