Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 aims to please manga fans

CyberConnect 2's Ultimate Ninja Storm series has always been eye-catching, ever since its debut in 2008. But, three sequels later, what can Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 possibly offer that's new?

Jason Enos, senior global brand manager at Namco Bandai explained that the latest iteration of the anime franchise is meant to appeal more to fans of the original manga series. "One of the focuses of this game for developer CyberConnect2 is to bring the perfect balance of the manga and the anime," he explained.

Fans of the franchise will probably agree with Enos' assessment that "the anime is more lighthearted while the manga delves a little deeper and gets a little more serious." To that point, he promises that "one of the goals this time around is to make sure manga fans feel more satisfied" by offering both "the cinematic and visual aspect of the anime" and also "the beautiful story development of the manga."

It's clear that presentation is the focus of UNS3, as the gameplay is very similar to previous games in the series. Boss fights, such as one against Nine Tails, promises to be more "epic" than ever--a rather difficult feat, given the series' history. One difference I noticed was that Awakening mode can now be turned on at any time with the drawback of not being able to use it again later. In the previous titles, you had to be at low health to activate it.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 arrives on the PS3 and Xbox 360 early next year.