Saturday, June 9, 2007

Game Review: Naruto: Ultimate Ninja

Being a fan of the show I couldn't pass this up for only $19.99, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja has all the qualities that make the show so enjoyable, the characters are faithful to the show and thankfully use the same voice actors. Naruto Ultimate Ninja uses cell shading for the visual style which works but I personally would've prefered sprites instead. Naruto Ultimate Ninja takes the 2D fighting game engine and adds elements from the show, for instance Street Fighter has a "super meter" NuN has a Chakra Guage that when full allows the player to perform "secret Jutsu's" straight from the show, like Naruto's Shadow Clone or Neji Hyuga's 8 trigrams 64 palms jutsu's.
When the secret technique sceen is activated to two time limit guages apear for the attacker and defender and a combination of different buttons appear that need to be input correctly in time to execute/defend the secret jutsu technique. By giving the dender the opportunity to defend massive damage can be reduced by half, this is an interesting spin on the old super move where the defender will have two options block or take massive damage.
Other aspects that differentiate Naruto Ultimate Ninja from other 2D fighters is the 2 plane battlefield, in NUN the there's a foreground and background which fighters can instantly switch to if fighters are on different planes they can still attack their opponent with weapons like suriken and kunai.
The battle ground is interactive also, by breaking lanterns or crates status altering items can be acquired and each character has a support character that can apear with support items and be called in for a special attack.
NuN has 12 playable characters, Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha, Sakura Haruno, Kakashi Hatake, Neji Hyuga, Hinata Hyuga, Rock Lee and Shikamaru Nara from the village hidden in the leaves. Gaara from the village hidden in the sand, Zabuza Momochi and Haku from the village hidden in the mist, and Orochimaru one of the seven Sannin and founder of the village hidden in the sound.
Not every character is available from the start, by playing thru characters senario (story mode) you unlock the hidden characters.
There's also missions to do at the ninja academy that earn you money, which you can use to buy stuff to clutter up naruto's house. Not only do the missions earn you money but they net you points towards becoming a genin, jonine, kunoichi (Sakura or Hinata) or maybe even hokage!
So what to do with the money (Ryo) you earned from those missions? Go spend it on Konohamaru's gum drop machine of course! There is a ton of things to get from the machine, screen shots from the show music tracks to listen too, sound bites from the game, ninja info cards, and video clips of characters secret techinques.
Overall there's plenty to keep a young ninja busy, the fighting game is unique and offers alot of variables to the typical 2D fighter, but I think most people will pass this game by unless they're a fan of the anime already. This game has all the charm of the anime, but if you're looking for a more traditional fighting game this may not be for you.