Besides basic movement, jumps and wall runs, players can perform all their attacks simply by pressing the Circle button.
The occasional dramatic animation sequence livens things up, but the overwhelming majority of conversations take place between static character portraits that oddly stand side by side and stare out at you even while speaking to each other.
The Master Road is presented as a series of squares along which you move cute little animated Narut.
As you progress from mission to mission, you frequently unlock new characters you can use in both the Master Road and other modes.
You also unlock new ninja jutsu attacks and tactics that you can activate to enhance attributes like attack power and speed.
Missions take on one of two formats. In some, the camera is situated close to your character, and you must defeat one or two opponents just as you would in a fighting game.
No matter what format a mission takes or what goals you're assigned, the shallow action and poor controls ensure that they're all equally uninvolving.
If the thought of acquiring all these goodies isn't enough to motivate you, you're out of luck because the gameplay itself is wholly unrewarding.
Missions take on one of two formats.
In some, the camera is situated close to your character, and you must defeat one or two opponents just as you would in a fighting game.
In others, the camera is further away, giving the action the look of a side-scrolling platformer.
There is one area where this game doesn't disappoint. The visuals are beautiful, with detailed, well-animated characters and remarkably vivid environments. Little touches like rolling rivers, leaves blowing in the wind, and flickering light from flames go a long way toward making the surroundings for the action feel alive and authentic.
Button mashing is the order of the day in the fights here.
That's not to say that you don't have a decent variety of moves available,
though neither the flimsy manual nor Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Heroes itself make any effort to familiarize you with your attacks.
There are certainly hours upon hours of gameplay to be had here for completionists who are determined to unlock every character and acquire all the collectables, but no amount of unlockable character pictures can make putting up with this tedium worthwhile. It's not too much to ask for a game to deliver both fan service and solid gameplay.