Let me just start off by saying that I'm not going to bother with any of the "anime game curse" talk in this article. The Ultimate Ninja series is good, plain and simple. With that said, I'm going to do something a bit different this time around. Instead of my standard review, I thought it'd be a nice change of pace to instead chronicle my journey through Konoha in Ultimate Ninja 3's Ultimate Contest mode. So sit back and enjoy!
After the opening cutscene, I get thrown into the shoes of Naruto, as Sakura tells him that Kakashi wants everyone to gather at the training field. After this, I get control of Naruto, and I decide to run around Konoha for a bit. It's pretty fun to just aimlessly wander Konoha, actually. Running around, jumping off of buildings, and clinging to walls are all fairly entertaining. You can break pots and other objects around Konoha to find money (called Ryo in Naruto's world, as you all probably know), as well. After a while of this, however, I decided that it was time to get on with it and headed out to the Training Field to meet up with Kakashi, Sakura, and the rest.
Before I left, however, I ran into Hinata, who gave me a Slot Coin she found on the ground. So, instead of heading to the Training Field, I instead went to Tanzaku Town's Pachinko Parlor, because, let's face it, where else am I going to use a Slot Coin? But, instead of being able to use it myself, I see Tsunade, who is quite angry about losing her last coin. So I hand mine over to her, and in return I get an item called Tsunade's Medicine. The game informs me that there might be someone with a stomachache from drinking too much that would appreciate the medicine. After searching around for a bit I came across Jiraiya, who indeed had a stomachache. I handed over the medicine, and in return got a "Make-Out Strap". The game informs me that there may be some closet fans of the Make-Out series that would like to have it. Oh boy…this is going to go on for a while, isn't it? Let's get on with it and head for the Training Field, shall we?
Upon arriving, I get a cutscene, in which Kakashi explains to Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke the rules of the upcoming tournament, which will pit genin and jonin from the Leaf and Sand villages in a battle royale against each other to obtain one another's crystals. After this, I get another cutscene in which Tsunade further explains the rules, and the prize for winning the tournament. Once I'm back in Naruto's shoes, I immediately get challenged by Kiba. He wants my crystal! Well now, I'm not going to just stand by and let him take it. It's a really close battle, but eventually after a few Uzumaki Barrages, I emerge victorious and get Kiba's crystal, which puts me one point closer to the 60 points needed to win the tournament.
Apparently the game isn't going to let me get any rest after fighting Kiba, because right after that fight, Naruto encounters Kankuro, who is trying to get Hinata's crystal from her. Kankuro then challenges Naruto, and I'm right back into the thick of a battle. This one goes a little bit more smoothly than the fight with Kiba, and soon I find myself in possession of another crystal. As soon as this battle ends, I get a cutscene with Sasuke and Kakashi fighting. Naruto interrupts them, and soon it's Naruto and Sasuke teaming up against Kakashi. Wow, these battles never end, do they? At the start of the fight, I've got control of Sasuke. This one's almost TOO easy, and after a couple Lion's Barrages from Sasuke, Kakashi goes down. However, right after that, I've got to fight him again, this time with Naruto! This one's not as easy as the last one, but I still emerge victorious. But wait…Kakashi took my crystals! Aww man, now I'm down to zero! Things aren't looking good for Naruto here, are they?
Well, I won't ruin the adventure for you readers out there. Of course, this is only the beginning. Simply put, this is one of the best "Story" modes I've ever played in an anime fighter. There's tons of side quests, plenty of places to go, and of course lots of fighting. As you progress through the story, you'll level up and learn new Ultimate Jutsus and unlock new characters, as well. There's even dating sim elements, believe it or not. I'd already played through this mode in it's entirety a couple years ago in the Japanese release, but it's nice to be able to go back through it and be able to understand what's going on. Overall, Ultimate Ninja 3 is an excellent game with an excellent story mode, and I think Naruto fans will get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I know I do!