Naruto stands as one of the top 3 Anime, both in our culture and that of Japan. It got its Manga debut in a 1997 Shōnen issue. Quickly transition into Anime in 2002, Naruto has skyrocketed in popularity and media appearances. Although the Shippuden series is ending this year, a new series, Boruto, will be starting soon after. Movies, Books, Shows and even games have been released based on both the Naruto and Shippuden series.
From the highly successful Ultimate Ninja series to the lesser known Japan only titles, Naruto has had a rocky road when it comes to games. With the rights shifting between developers, and publishers allowing other houses to develop games, the overall quality of games is constantly in flux. While they are mostly seen as fighting games, there has been an RPG here or a table top game there; Naruto games come in all forms.
With so many games available, there are going to be some black sheep. Throughout this article, I shall highlight some of the best and some of the worst games of Naruto. Hopefully, you will find some games to steer away from, while others may pique your interest. If I note something as worst, it doesn’t, however, mean they are terrible games but set aside the others on offer they are definitely low on the list.
But enough of the build-up, it’s time to get ready for action! Believe it!... I’m sorry.
15 Best: Naruto: Rise Of A Ninja
The very first game I played that featured my favourite TV show, all the way back in 2007, Rise of a Ninja had you control the protagonist Naruto through the beginning parts of the Anime. Packed full of 80 episodes, this release saw you learning hand seals, training your ninjutsu and undertaking side missions galore. While it is rather arcade-like nowadays, when this game came out it felt exactly how you’d picture a ninja-in-training would play like.
Rise of a Ninja was separated out into two modes, the one-on-one fighting we are accustomed to wit the Storm series, and role-playing, where you could move around Konoha. Thankfully this game garnered enough attention to warrant a much better sequel.
14 Worst: Naruto: Ninja Council
While plenty of fans love how the Ninja Council progressed later in life, the first release was shaky at best. Reused levels on the low powered handheld console, leading to some lackluster gameplay and action. Diluting the series to a simple brawler, with jumps thrown in. The platforming in Ninja Council felt too simple.
It did feature a good chunk of the story, from Zabuza to the Chunin Exams, but by controlling Naruto and Sasuke, you went through levels twice sometimes. The boss fights varied little, which would be fine in a side-scroller like Mario, but Naruto is known for over the top action, and later explosions. You could wall run, throw shuriken and use Jutsu, but it felt too underwhelming when compared to other games of that time.
13 Best: Naruto: The Broken Bond
The sequel to Rise of the Ninja, The Broken Bond improved every single aspect of its predecessor. You could traverse faster, use wall/water running more often, the maps were bigger, the story lasted longer —though only containing episodes 81-135— and combat even saw an improvement. Being one of the last games to feature hand seals, moving the thumbsticks to perform them, The Broken Bond feels drastically different than its Storm sibling.
Receiving higher praise than its predecessor, this series of Ubisoft Naruto games came to an end (seeing the rise of the Storm series pickup afterward). For a more realistic, hands-on experience, this series was one of the best of its type. Including tag-team battles, as well as new voice recordings, this series died before it could reach its full potential.
12 Worst: Naruto Online
There will always be an advocate for browser based games, Runescape has a massive fanbase even though it started off incredibly archaic. Naruto Online was officially licensed by Bandai Namco. Unfortunately, it sullies their name to put it on such a copy-paste browser game. With a flashy and stylistic trailer (that shows the main characters helping Naruto), this online game continues the motif that a great cinematic does not equal a great game.
Full of pay-to-win and daily prizes, Naruto Online is just a skin placed over the top of countless other browser games. While it follows a huge portion of the Anime, it feels too shallow and looks like a poor cash grab. The game itself has a big player base, but for an online version of Naruto, it is far below the bar.
11 Best: Naruto Shippuden: Clash Of Ninja Revolution 3
Set as the fifth installment in the Clash of Ninja series, Revolution 3 is seen by many fans as the pinnacle of the series. Featuring 40 characters and 40 stages, this release on the Wii still has gamers playing its online component even though it was released back in 2009. Running through the Kazekage Rescue Mission in story mode, you can fight some of the harder battles, including Gaara vs. Deidara.
With easy to learn combat, in-depth combos, and mechanics, Revolution 3 stands out in the Clash of Ninja series. Following a combat style more akin to Tekken you should be able to hop in and enjoy it regardless of previous engagement with the series. It does feature some plain graphics, along with some poor animation, but this could have been more a problem of the console then the game itself. Although, with the introduction of 4-way battles you can easily overlook a few errors.
10 Best: Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3
Innovating on all its past work, Ultimate Ninja 3 the tradition of customizing of characters, from their items to their Jutsu loadouts. Along with the customization, you could also initiate transformations and Jutsu clashes. Coupled with its gameplay improvements, Ultimate Ninja 3 also added CGI cutscenes in its story mode. To be fair, it did cut a lot of stories the process, to create a more action based story mode. Being the last game before the story shifted to Shippuden, UN3 is another fan favourite.
While it did streamline (or dumb down) some of its mechanics they never felt like a downgrade, more like changing into a faster way to play. The art style looks as if it’s picked right out from the Manga, though it might look a touch dated by today’s standard.
9 Worst: Naruto Shinobi No Sato No Jintori Kassen
One of the Japanese only titles for Naruto, and one of its oldest being released back in 2003, this long-titled release can be summed up in less words,: It’s a Board Game. If you have played a Mario Party, you get the idea behind this game. However, take those concepts and apply them to a much older game on the PlayStation. A monopoly game centred around Naruto.
Moving across a board to defeat your enemies, there isn’t a slower more tedious way to fight opponents. They could have gone in a much better direction with this game, adding in new mechanics or flashier combat. Without a multiplayer mode or in-depth gameplay, this Naruto Monopoly game rests solidly on many people's "worst of the franchise" list.
8 Best: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations
Like many of the sequels to the Ultimate Ninja series, Generations saw, even more, improvements and additions to the combat system. A substitution gauge, awakening mode, and collectible cards gave players advantages during combat. Adding new mechanics to the superb graphical style, Generations stood out when it was first released. Keeping characters from Storm and Storm 2, Generations boasted a roster of 72 characters with several looks depending on the story.
Generations was also one of the few games that did away with exploration and “story,” featuring a battle royale type of approach. For the gamers who already knew the story and wanted a straight up fighter set within the Naruto Uuniverse, Generations supplied them with one of the best ways to do just that.
7 Worst: Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles
Making a move to the Wii, Dragon Blade Chronicles takes a well-known franchise and changes it heavily to appeal to a new audience. Turning to a hack-and-slash format, along with a new story to follow, this is one of the biggest jumps in the series. Pushing aside the cliché story and garish design, DBC features a poor combo system, with Rasengans getting tossed in every now and then.
It did feature some cool boss fights, who doesn’t like fighting dragons, but the overall presentation and style were too detached from the normal Naruto style. I might even be too lenient, with some reviews at its releasing reaching as low as 3/10. If the Wii didn’t have a bad reputation for bad spin-offs already, this game just adds to the stigma.
6 Best: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4
The most recent Storm game release, even featuring an expansion that follows Boruto during the beginning of his journey through the movie. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the pinnacle of the Storm series, featuring refined combat, graphics, and over 100 characters on offer. While the reception for this game was rocky at release, Storm 4 has improved through patches and its expansion. Following the story of the Fourth Shinohi World War up to the Anime’s end.
Meant as a send-off to the series, Storm 4 looks to be the last game developed by CyberConnect2, with their expansion being the finale release in the Storm line-up. Bandai Namco has since confirmed the finality of the Ultimate Ninja series.
5 Worst: Naruto: Clash Of The Ninja Revolution 2
Clash of the Ninja has a strong fanbase behind it, many calling it better than the Storm series at times. However, every series will have a black sheep or a game that simply didn’t hit the same highs as its peers. Revolution 2 came with a new story mode, which unbelievably poor. The lack of an online mode (combined with its weak plot), caused this release to be the worst games in all of the Clash of the Ninja series. The series recovered later on, with its previous releases still standing tall. At this point, it has been several years since the last CON game.
4 Best: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst
With an explosive start —with the Kages meeting in secret to have Sasuke attack them— Storm 3 introduced a series of mechanics and improvements. Awakening mode, support characters, new tag-team assist actions, mob mode, and Ultimate Decisions. Storm 3 was a refreshing direction for the series, becoming more climatic and flashy than its predecessors. Instead of just entering combat with principal enemies, you would now make your way through waves of ninja on your way, ramping up towards the final battles of the areas.
While Generations did away with story and epic boss battles, the developers heard the cries for their return. Storm 3 featured even greater end battles, with huge beast battles and explosions galore, with different endings based on your Ultimate decisions. Storm 4 did have some problems with AI and connection problems, there weren’t as many complaints with Storm 3.
3 Worst: Naruto Shippuden 3D: The New Era
Another handheld game that failed to deliver, this time on the 3DS. With terrible backgrounds and graphics, this Naruto game tried to bring back the 2D side-scrolling back, in a 2.5D style side-scroller brawler. Frankly, it almost falls into the “Disney Rip-off” games category. The New Era had you repeating the same combo over and over with lackluster music, with meager sound effects thrown in.
If you were to look at the game now, you might even liken it to the old Lion King games, due to its graphics or gameplay. The New Era dropped the ball in so many areas, scoring 5/10 on many sites, this release in 2011 was too underwhelming to warrant a continuation. Whether looking back or playing it for the first time on release day, this was one Naruto game to avoid.
2 Best: Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm
This is where it all started. Storm revolutionized the Ultimate Ninja series’ combat and approach to Naruto games. Shifting from 2d combat planes to 3d ones, introducing the Awakening mode, Jutsu Clash, Konoha exploration, and more. Following the anime up to episode 135, with 25 playable characters to start off with, Storm saw the rise of the cel-shaded graphical style that has returned in all future games.
Instead of merely following the Anime, Storm moved to make the Anime look much better than it was. The graphics side of things were phenomenal, and the expansion of Konoha and combat meant that Naruto would stand out even more in the gaming scene. CyberConnect2 stumbled onto something great with Storm, and they rode that train till its final destination.
1 Worst: Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles
Another game that had an amazing sequel, Uzumaki Chronicles was sadly under polished and rushed. Featuring a 3D brawling style, you move through levels beating up goons. It holds a mostly filler storyline and cuts a lot of content due to the progression of the Anime over in English speaking countries. Fighting waves of the same enemy over and over, even when traveling towards missions, turns this into a simple button masher.
It does offer some interesting boss battles and minigames, but the overall quality was way too low. Uzumaki Chronicles 2 improved greatly on the first and became a fan favourite. However, with so much cut content for English speakers, poor graphics, and repetitive gameplay, the first makes its appearance on this “worst” list.