Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm retains many of the gameplay elements from earlier installments of the Ultimate Ninja series. However, Ultimate Ninja Storm allows players to fight in three-dimensional environments, as opposed to the two-dimensional planes in previous games.One of the new features introduced to the series in Ultimate Ninja Storm is "Awakening Mode", a transformation that can be activated when a player loses a certain amount of health during a match. The health requirement for each character differs based on how powerful the transformation is. Once activated, the character gains new abilities, speed, and stronger attacks. A few of the characters in the game gain entirely new movesets after transforming.With the d-pad, players can use preset items during a match that either damage the opponent or provide various status effects like increasing attack power, or lowering the opponent's defense.