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Naruto: Ninja Council 2 review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 15 August 2010 02:05 (A review of Naruto: Ninja Council 2)

"Although it does little to improve upon the original gameplay wise. This game still proves to be an exciting Naruto experince"

I have played Naruto Ninja Council 2 in Japanese and I must say it was a true Naruto experience. This sequel improves many things that where sought as mediocre from the first game. However, I bet your wondering why I gave it a 8 and not a 10? well read on with the rest of my review.

Story 6.5/10
The story is a replication of the chunniun exams. Which was pretty pointless to begin with but that's just my opinion. At least this game is better then the story of the first game which included many plot holes. If you watched the TV show or just read the manga then there is really no need to focus on the story so I give it a 6.5/10.

Game play 8/10
The game play has had it's minor tweaks in the sequel. Now jutsu's are preformed by using button mashing combinations instead of the chakra meter in the first game. Also the game allows you to switch between Sakura, Sasuke and Naruto with the push of a button. Plat forming is not as important in this game as it was in the first now it's about fighting! minor tweaks in the game play score an 8/10.

Graphics 8/10
The graphics of the game have vastly improved over the first game. Character models actually look like the character that they are supposed to be. Backgrounds have vastly improved as well and look gorgeous. If your one of those people who focus on graphics more then game play you should defiantly pick this title up! This scores a 8/10 easily.

Sound 7/10
Sound in this game is okay. There is nothing that will make you say OMG that is awesome. It's just average sound for a game boy game. Nothing to special hear so it gets a 7/10.

Replay value 7/10
Naruto fans will want to play this game over and over again to make sure they create a 100% file. Non-fans however, might not want to give this game a second go.

Naruto Ninja council 2 is a great sequel that improves over the first in a variety of ways. So if you hated the first game this might be the way to go!

Review by Sanosuke92 from [Link removed - login to see]

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Naruto: Ninja Council review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 13 August 2010 02:22 (A review of Naruto: Ninja Council)

Whether you're a fan of Naruto or still new to the series, you really have to give publisher D3 props. While other companies have moved away from Nintendo's slowing hardware, D3 is attacking it. In the last few months we've seen support for both of Nintendo's slower consoles. Not only have GameCube fans received the first installment of the Clash of Ninja series imported from Japan, but an announcement has already been made for the sequel to hit the Cube yet again later this year. On the pocket side of things, D3 has released yet another Japan favorite for Naruto fans. Naruto: Ninja Council may not be the best action platformer we've seen on the Game Boy - we've seen quite a few - but it definitely earned its place on shelves. Combining the humor and character of the Naruto universe with some simple yet entertaining gameplay, Naruto: Ninja Council is highly recommended not only for diehard fans, but also for gamers dying to fill their GBA during the drought.

Naruto: Ninja Council is, in all respects, a run-of-the-mill "good" game. While there's nothing technically amazing going on, everything in the production is as solid as it needs to be to deliver an entertaining few hours of play. As a contribution to the Naruto franchise, the presentation hits its mark as well, offering cutscenes for characters, tons of voice acting and even a few bits of comedy thrown in for good measure. While Naruto: Ninja Council is a little short on the amount of levels, there's a good chunk of game to explore in various ways.

There are eight main stages in all, each concluding with a main boss fight. The gameplay is fast but simple, as players have a jump and attack button, double-tap dashing and three main super attacks. Using supers works based on timing, as the attack button is held until a charge meter is filled up. Based on the point it's filled to, a different attack is unleashed. Poor timing can also result in a failed or weaker version of the super, so learning to pull of major combos during the heat off battle is an acquired skill. Aside from the main attack abilities, both main characters have the ability to run up walls while dashing, throw ninja stars or other projectile weapons, and cast level-specific magic to solve puzzles and weaken bosses. It's a basic blend of classic gaming, but the appeal lies in the fact that everything works and everything's balanced.

In fact, your entire experience with Naruto: Ninja Council will be based on whether or not the gameplay intrigues you. Designers mix it up by adding in level-specific traps and enemies, but the gameplay is essentially the same. Replay value will be found in the same way as a game like Astro Boy or Guardian Heroes Advance, as the very act of battling is what determines the overall entertainment value. Boss battles are where the game really shines, as players square off in one-on-one battles (most of the time) against another key character from the show. The battles are great, playing out much like a simpler version of a Mega Man boss encounter. Characters will use only a few different attack patterns, and it's up to the player to memorize and counter the attacks. Why is the entire cast of the show against Naruto and Sasuke? Who knows. Designers don't slow the game down with story, rather Ninja Council is focused entirely on the action. It's simple, but entertaining.

Aside from the core gameplay, a lot of the appeal for Naruto: Ninja Council will depend on how much you enjoy the Naruto universe. For fans, Ninja Council delivers an entertaining conversion of the anime for quick bursts of gameplay. All major characters make an appearance, each with their own attacks and specials directly from the show. In fact, the characters also play along with their anime shtick despite being shrunk down onto the GBA screen. Konohamaru and Ebisu work together as the first boss, delivering comedy and opposition at the same time. As the battle progresses, Naruto will have to attack Ebisu while avoiding Konohamaru, since Konohamaru is known in the anime as being a young kid with far too much ambition. He may think he's ready to take on Naruto, but in reality Ebisu is doing all the work. It translates well, and it's really entertaining to see. In fact, many of the boss battles work along the same lines. Choji is constantly claiming that he isn't fat as he rolls around the battlefield as a human boulder, and Kiba constantly changes from animal to human during his bout. Everyone has their style, and they all stick to it.

Despite the commendable battle system and character attitudes, Naruto: Ninja Council is still stuck in the "good, not great" category. The production is a visual grab-bag, as some animations and effects are amazing, while the overall look is a bit dated on the GBA platform. The music is a bit on the basic side as well, though they make up for it with a nice sized amount of voice acting. As for the seemingly short length, fans have no reason to worry. Naruto: Ninja Council offers the main story mode with both Naruto and Sasuke, and though the story is the same regardless of which hero is chosen, the characters have a ton of variety in speed, power and special moves. In addition, each character has an unlockable super that can only be gained after mastering the game's "hard mode" that shows up after first completion. The difficulty increases substantially, and the boss battles are fierce and unforgiving. Anyone complaining about the lack of challenge in this one obviously didn't play through it in its entirety. That, or they're a true force to be reckoned with. Stick with it, and this one brings the pain.

Closing Comments
So during a time of slim pickings for the GBA hardware, is Naruto: Ninja Council a solid title to fill the void? That really depends on the player. If you’re a huge fan of the franchise, you’ll be happy to know Ninja Council will deliver some decent pocket entertainment. For those of you that don’t know the series, or have already moved onto the DS, you may want to think twice before dropping 30 bucks on this one. Naruto is simple yet fun, entertaining and true to the franchise but ultimately still just a “good” game. Be sure to grab it if you find it for cheap, or rest assured that your Naruto expectations will be met. This won’t be a game of the year candidate, but it does deliver some great action on a system that hasn’t seen some in a while. It may not be perfect, but Naruto: Ninja Council is a breath of fresh air on the Game Boy Advance.

7.0 Presentation
It's got the look and feel of the franchise. In fact, it even manages to squeeze a decent amount of comedy into the mix. True to the formula.
6.5 Graphics
Naruto: Ninja Council has its moments, both on the strong and weak side of the spectrum. Character animations and effects are solid, but some of the main level art could stand more polish.
5.5 Sound
The music is too weak for even the GBA platform, but the large amount of voice acting will help make up for it. It doesn’t hurt the experience, but we don’t recommend headphones either.
6.5 Gameplay
It’s solid, though a bit on the basic side. There’s a ton to do, however as players can use either Narto or Sasuke in numerous difficulty modes.
6.5 Lasting Appeal
For hardcore gamers, Naruto: Ninja Council will have you kicking and screaming for hours. The first time through is easy, but difficulty increases leaps and bounds the second time.

6.5 OVERALL Passable(out of 10)

Review by Mark Bozon from [Link removed - login to see]

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Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution III review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 12 August 2010 01:01 (A review of Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution III)

Naruto's latest is a good fighting game that's held back by an unbalanced Story mode and laggy online play.

The Good
Great core fighting mechanics * Good selection of well-balanced Naruto characters * Lots of extras to unlock.
The Bad
Broken Story mode * Laggy online play.

Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 is a good fighting game, with a wide cast of balanced fighters and a combat system that lets button mashers have some fun while also offering just enough depth for more serious players. This is an entertaining one-on-one couch-friendly fighting game that hides some surprising depth beneath its relatively simple exterior. While Story mode and the much-heralded online versus play don't quite meet the same standards, Revolution 3 is a good-looking and well-made fighter for the Wii.

Versus mode is the standout element of the game. The fights take place in 3D arenas plucked from the Naruto universe, and combat is either one-on-one or between two tag teams of two. Characters can all use chakra to activate some abilities while trying to beat the life out of the enemy. Swapping tag-team characters or activating powerful, chakra-devouring secret techniques requires only a single button press, as does evading. Although each character has a strong and weak attack, a throw move, paper bombs, and secret techniques, the vast majority of actions require only one button press--but one button press timed very well.

The demands on player precision are what make Revolution 3's fighting system so engaging. Plumbing the depths of each character's move set is fulfilling, but the core of success and failure revolves around watching your enemies and nailing your evasion and strike timing better than they do. Evasions are quick flits to either side by default, but when timed just at the moment you would take damage, they instead consume some chakra and position you behind your opponent, ready to strike or already attacking. You can similarly counter-throw, turn a hard fall into a chance to hit, and cancel out of combos. In tag-team battles, swapping in your other character is added to the list of potential variables; it's an especially important variable, since the out-of-play character recovers health and chakra fast. Some moves can be executed only by swapping specific characters in mid-combo. This system allows players to duke it out with basic attacks and enjoy themselves, but includes more advanced techniques that add some depth for dedicated brawlers.

The game features 40 of Naruto Shippuden's characters, and although most of them have to be unlocked, they're a diverse and entertaining stable of combatants who nicely balance each other. Characters are drastically different from each other in feel and play. Naruto, with his raw strength, throwing knives, and shadow clone jutsu plays nothing like the puppet-master Sasori, let alone the living-clay-bomb-maker Deidara. The whole cast feels fairly weel balanced, so you can experiment with different characters and not have to worry about being completely outclassed.

Combat does have a few weak spots. Characters don't auto-face their opponent, and it's more difficult than it needs to be to get your fighter facing the correct direction, and by the time you finally get yourself turned around, you've probably endured a nasty beating. More of an issue is that when you add in three or four players, combat loses the precision that makes it so enthralling. Multiple opponents only aggravate the facing problem, but the real issue is that a game about very precise timing falters when you throw in too much chaos. Having three or four fighters onscreen at once also causes occasional frame-rate hiccups. That noted, both two- and four-player combat allows you and another player to play as tag-team teammates, which is ridiculously challenging but fun. If you've got a friend or three to play with, the local Versus mode alone is entertaining enough to recommend the game.

Online play is a first for the series, and Naruto's debut here is not without issues. You can add friends using the game-unique friend code, but you can also simply select ranked or unranked and hop into a fight against a random opponent immediately. Even better, you can request to add someone you fight to your "rival" list, essentially a second friends list. Unfortunately, online play regularly suffers noticeable freezes. Although they aren't bad enough to curse the whole effort as a waste, they're certainly enough to discard any notion of serious matches being played over the Wi-Fi connection.

Story mode kicks off at the beginning of the Shippuden series, with Naruto returning to the Hidden Leaf Village after several years of training with Jiraiya, the Pervy Sage. From there it follows the Rescue Gaara arc, with its clashes against the Akatsuki and plays for possession of the tailed beasts. While you usually play as Naruto, you also hop into the ninja shoes of everyone from Granny Chiyo and her puppets to Kakashi. Regardless of whether you followed all that or not, don't worry about Story mode. Beyond being a Cliffs Notes version of the storyline that requires a decent understanding of the Naruto mythos to begin with, it's too incomplete to hold the interest of anyone familiar with Naruto and too incongruous to make sense to anyone else. More damningly, Story mode is imbalanced. As you jump from scenario to scenario, you might find yourself and two computer-controlled allies against one enemy, making the fight a cakewalk. You also fight alone against a computer-controlled tag-team pair, which is just as ridiculous as it sounds. As excellently balanced as the combat is, Story mode falls flat on its face.

The selection of extras is nice, with everything from characters and modes to difficulty settings to be unlocked. You earn cash to spend in the extras shop from just about everything you do in-game, so there's little reason to suffer through Story mode for points. And although it's not in the shop, it's a nice little extra that you can use just about any controller setup the Wii accepts. The Classic and WaveBird controllers are your best choices for precision, but the nunchuk and Wii Remote combination affords you the unique ability to enter ninja hand signs: hold down the Z and C buttons, trace either left-down-right or right-down-left with the remote, and you gain an in-match bonus. It's your choice as to which setup is the better fit for your play style.

Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 sits heads and (nine) tails above most licensed games, and also most fighting games. While Story mode isn't anything to write home about, and the wireless connectivity has some lag issues, Revolution 3 is a good fighter that should please any fan of the titular anime who is in a position to play it with friends without needing to go online.

Review by Patrick Joynt from [Link removed - login to see]

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Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 11 August 2010 04:20 (A review of Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2)

There’s much to do in this fun, but strictly offline fighting game.

The Good
Combat is simple yet deep * The story mode is surprisingly involved * There's a ton of stuff to unlock.
The Bad
There's no online play * The cutscenes look terrible * Mission modes become tedious.

Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 has a telling title. For instance, nearly every part is a piece of the series' history. It began as Naruto: Clash of Ninja on the GameCube. When it moved to the Wii, it gained the "Revolution." And now, the sequel is Clash of Ninja Revolution 2. You can also tell a lot about the way the games themselves have progressed; instead of revamping, developer Tomy has been adding on to the unchanged core of the game for the last four years. The result is as big and disorganized as its title. The only missing piece, both in game and in name, is the word "Online." Online features might have made a good game great, but as it stands, Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 is ready to rumble in your living room.

The most significant mode is the story campaign, which takes place outside of the Naruto canon, and tells the story of an evil ex-ANBU member (ANBU being the ninja FBI) who wants to destroy the Hidden Leaf Village by turning its inhabitants against each other. Although this predictably allows the game to set up confrontations that wouldn't normally occur, the tale is more than just a pretext for battle. It's an actual story complete with colorful villains, crazy schemes, and old rivalries.

And the campaign is a real-deal campaign, not just 10 fights in a row. You'll fight your fair share of straight one-on-one matches, but you'll also find yourself up against 15 ninjas in a row, or battling two ANBU agents at once as a bad guy. In one particularly memorable fight, Naruto, Rock Lee, and Sakura must fight a brainwashed Might Guy, and you can defeat him only by finishing him off with Lee's special move. The thing is, Guy is all amped up and loco; his attacks are devastating, and your special move removes only a sliver of his life. So the challenge isn't just kicking his butt, but figuring out how to keep your teammates alive long enough to whittle down his health, and then setting him up for a special attack at just the right time. You aren't just winning a fight; you're solving a problem.

There are three problems with the campaign. First, the cutscenes are terrible. Much of the plot is conveyed through slowly scrolling text, and several conversations are between paper cutouts of the characters who bounce up and down when they talk. Second, the AI is easy to exploit. Certain characters such as Kakashi and Jiraiya have special moves that the computer never figures out, such as Jiraiya's "Now I'm Covered in Spikes-Jutsu!" This makes several fights in the campaign super easy. Third, the tutorial content is all contained within a separate mode, so if you begin the campaign straight away, you'll get your butt kicked while you figure out how the controls work. None of these are big problems (the story is still interesting, the game compensates for the weak AI, and the external tutorial mode is great); they just keep a decent campaign from being really good.

The core strength of the Clash of Ninja games has always been its fighting engine, and it's as strong as ever in Clash of Ninja Revolution 2. The game is a 3D fighter that takes place mostly on a 2D plane, like with Tekken. Though there are about a half-dozen control permutations that cover everything from the GameCube controller to just a remote, the default mode has you move with the Nunchuk and attack by wiggling the remote. You can also execute four special moves by pressing a direction on the Nunchuk plus the A button, throw kunai by pressing A alone, and execute super moves by pressing down on the remote's D pad. The basics are very easy to pick up.

Clash of Ninja 2 provides a surprisingly deep combat experience due to chakra. As you fight, chakra builds up in a meter. If you store enough, you can unleash a devastating super-jutsu (big special move, sometimes with an interactive cutscene). On the other hand, it can also be used to break yourself out of a combo; if you're getting wailed on, a single button press will teleport you away and drain a large amount of chakra. This interplay leads to tough decisions: Do you eat a big combo to save your special attack, or teleport away to fight another day? The paper bombs are another tactical wrinkle. You can throw these, but the best use is to plant one in the ground and trap your enemy between it and you. It's tactics like these that make Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 so fun to play.

However, the combat isn't without a couple of niggling flaws. For one, the game uses nearly every button between your remote and Nunchuk, and a couple of them do double duty. As a result, it's really hard to figure out how to do things on your own. The biggest issue, though, is getting turned around. For instance, if the enemy teleports behind you and you hit 'back' to block, you'll just walk forward because for you, that's the direction in which you're pressing. To turn yourself around, you have to press toward your enemy and then quickly block. Either way, you're probably going to eat a big combo if the enemy gets behind you. In theory, this makes a lot of sense. In reality, helplessly walking forward as you try to block is too frustrating for words.

Once you've gotten the hang of the combat and have played through the story mode, there's still quite a bit of content to play through. There are 36 characters total, and every single one has 10 playable missions, which are single battles of increasingly difficult circumstances. By playing through these, you'll unlock characters, bonuses, and even modes. There's also a score attack (beat 10 enemies as badly as you can) and a time attack (beat enemies as fast as you can). Altogether, Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 could keep you busy for well beyond 10 hours. There are just two problems: All of this single-player collectible content (the tutorials, the missions, even the time attacks) should have been integrated into the single-player campaign. Secondly, the missions you play through with each character are really uninteresting. The mission list is always the same, and there's never any context - just fight after fight. You'll want to grind through as many of these as you can to unlock things, but Tomy certainly could have made the process more appealing.

Finally, the production values are mixed. The game looks shabby during every cutscene, but it looks fine during combat and even better during super moves. The music is perfect for this sort of high-energy fighting game, and the voice work is fine, though you can tell that the actors weren't exactly pouring their souls into the lines. Well, except for one: Every time you start the game, Naruto screams "I'm all fired up and ready to go!" That may make certain parents and players want to throw themselves under the straight-talk express.

Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 is a fine fighting game. Its story campaign is good considering the genre, and there's plenty to do once you finish there. It is a shame, though, that the mission content isn't better, and you can't take your newly honed ninja skills online. But those issues aside, this ninja star is worth a fling.

Review by Joe Dodson from [Link removed - login to see]

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Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 11 August 2010 03:38 (A review of Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution)

The Clash of Ninja games haven't been great, and Revolution isn't much more than a thin coat of paint on the same old game.

The Good
Easy to pick up * Plenty of recognizable Naruto characters * Loads of control options.
The Bad
Aggressively reuses old Clash of Ninja content * Most control options are kind of clunky * Gameplay options are lazy.

Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution is an anime-based fighting game with a backstory that's more interesting than the game itself. The game was released earlier this year in Japan as Naruto Shippūden: Gekitou Ninja Taisen EX, which featured the teenage versions of the Naruto characters, as seen in the Naruto Shippūden anime series currently running in Japan. Since Shippūden hasn't made it to the US yet, publisher D3 chose to gut all of the older characters, along with the main storyline, and replace them with the younger versions that American audiences would be familiar with, and a story to go along with it. It's a move that makes a certain amount of sense, except that the result is a game that, aside from some remote-waggling control options, is nearly identical to the Clash of Ninja games that previously appeared on the GameCube. Those games were already fluffy pieces of fan service that were liberal about recycling content, and Clash of Ninja Revolution ends up all the more inessential for it.

Keeping with series standards, the action in Revolution is fast and simple, though still fairly evocative of the confrontations you might actually see in Naruto. You've got a strong and a weak attack that you can mix up for attack combos, and you can perform a basic throw. Incoming attacks can be blocked or dodged, and a well-timed dodge will trigger your substitution jutsu, which causes you to immediately appear on the other side of your opponent, giving you the drop on them. You'll build up chakra--the magical ninja energy that powers the fighters in the world of Naruto--as you both give and receive damage, and once you build up enough chakra, you can unleash one of your character's special jutsu attacks--big, cinematic attacks that usually shave off a good portion of your opponent's health.

This is how the other Clash of Ninja games handled, though Revolution tweaks the formula in a few ways. You'll find that there are objects like rocks and wooden crates in the arenas that you can hide behind, though their refuge is temporary, as they only take a few hits to demolish. The arenas are multilevel, kind of like in the Dead or Alive games, where you can knock a player out of the starting arena and into a new one. As you travel between arenas, the attacker can choose to squeeze in a quick attack during the transition, or move ahead of the other player. But, if the other player can predict which choice the attacker is going to make, they can cancel out the attacker's move. With only two options it's about as strategic as a coin flip, but it does help make the fights more dynamic.

There are 20 different characters in Clash of Ninja Revolution that you can unlock and play with, which is coincidental, as that's how many different control schemes there are to choose from. OK, that's a bit of hyperbole, but with five different control schemes, there are still a lot to choose from. The default controls use the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk and have you waggling the control to perform weak attacks, and pressing the A button for strong attacks. There's also an alternate control scheme for the remote-and-nunchuk setup. The big difference is that rather than waggling the remote, you press down on the D pad to perform weak attacks. When you're playing with either of these control schemes, there's a little interactivity during your jutsu attacks. You'll be prompted at specific points to move the nunchuk and/or the remote in a specific fashion, and if done correctly your jutsu attack will do more damage. That the defending player can't do anything here to mitigate damage makes this system unbalanced, and with the little diagrams it's not always clear what kind of gesture you're being prompted for.

If you're short on Nunchuks, the game can be played with just the Wii Remote held sideways, which works surprisingly well, and the game also supports the Classic Controller and the GameCube controller. Giving all of these control options seems like a friendly gesture, but the fact of the matter is that most of them feel awkward and compromised, requiring you to do some odd finger-wrangling at one point or another. That the GameCube controller is probably the ideal way to play Clash of Ninja Revolution is telling.

The gameplay modes offered in Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution cover the basics, and not much more. There are training, time attack, survival, and versus modes, none of which have any real surprises to offer. There's a mission mode that starts off right around the time the Chunin Exams end in the standard Naruto storyline. The story hits the ground running, though Naruto fans will pick up the plot pretty quick. Not that the game puts much care into the story, which is relayed through quick bits of dialogue and still images between fights. You'll actually spend a good deal of time in the story mode playing as characters other than Naruto, and your objectives are often more specific than just beating your opponent, providing a little bit of variety. Unfortunately, your objectives can be rather ambiguous, leaving you to try to interpret just what you're supposed to be doing. Having to play the same fight repeatedly because you didn't beat your opponent the right way--a way that the game is unclear about--can be extremely frustrating.

In its translation from Japan to the US, Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution has had all of its potentially unique characteristics sanded down smooth, leaving a game that is more reminiscent of its predecessors than it should be. The Wii controls are sloppy and awkward, the gameplay modes are determinedly pedestrian, and it doesn't look markedly better than its GameCube predecessors. Simply put, the only way to really enjoy Clash of Ninja Revolution is with low expectations.

Review by Ryan Davis from [Link removed - login to see]

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Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2 review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 11 August 2010 02:57 (A review of Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2)

Clash of Ninja 2 seems more like an upgraded game than a true sequel, and it ultimately does little to improve upon the original.

The Good
Four-way fighting adds a little variety to the action.
The Bad
Relies too heavily on content borrowed from the first Clash of Ninja * Four-way fighting is not particularly well thought out * Combat is still incredibly simplistic * Limited gameplay mode options.

Six months after the original game hit the GameCube in the US, D3 and Tomy have cranked out Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2, and the experience is so similar that it barely feels like a different game. More of the same might sound good to fans of the first Clash of Ninja, but the new additions are insignificant and do little to address the game's lean feature set or lack of depth.

Clash of Ninja 2 assumes that you will already be familiar with the whimsical and ninja-filled world of Naruto, and the story mode makes little mention of Naruto's origin as a wicked nine-tailed fox demon. Instead, the streamlined story mode focuses on the events after Naruto and friends have graduated from the ninja academy, with their confrontation with Haku and Zabuza on the bridge and the trials of the Chunin Exam serving as a couple of the highlights. It's a longer story mode than what Clash of Ninja offered, and it also lets you play as characters other than Naruto, which is refreshing, but it's basically a string of fights with some still character shots and enthusiastic TV-anime-grade voice acting between fights to help move the story along. Still, it's probably where you'll spend a lot of your time, as the game doesn't have a whole lot else to offer. If you're on your own, you can play against the computer in standard one-off, survival, and time attack matches. There's also a training mode where you can beat up on a submissive sparring partner, but it focuses almost exclusively on executing combos and gives you little instruction on evading attacks or triggering special moves. Playing through the various single-player modes will earn you cash that you can spend at an in-game shop, which mostly stocks special scrolls that will increase the potency of your attacks and hobble your opponents. It's a decent, minor addition, but it's got an annoying quirk where you're automatically dumped back to the main menu after buying a single item, which makes multiple purchases a chore.

You can play against a friend, and new to Clash of Ninja 2 is the introduction of four-way fighting, which comes up a few times during the story mode. You can also get into a four-way brawl with computer-controlled opponents, live opponents, or a combination of the two in the multiplayer mode, where you can choose whether it's two-on-two, three-on-one, or a frenzied free-for-all. Taking on multiple enemies at once makes the game seem more like a beat-'em-up than a straight-up fighting game, and it definitely makes the game more hectic. It also muddles the action, as the controls aren't ideal for four-way fighting. They haven't been changed at all since Clash of Ninja, so the feature ends up feeling tacked on.

Basic attacks can be performed easily with the A and B buttons, and you're all but guaranteed some kind of multihit combo if you randomly tap on these buttons repeatedly. Blocking occurs automatically, so long as your character is not in motion. You can use the Y button to throw opponents, and the X button activates your character's unique special attack. Most of the characters have a unique feel to them, but the fundamental combat is so simple that you don't really need to alter your technique, which makes the expanded roster of Clash of Ninja 2 seem somewhat irrelevant. The action is flashy, with lots of ninja smoke, aerial attacks, flying shuriken, and absurd, over-the-top special moves, and the cel-shaded character models look solid and are animated with an appropriately exaggerated flair. However, the arenas are uniformly small and a bit sterile, and the number of moves each character has is so limited that it's not very satisfying to play. Some high-energy Japanese-themed background music helps give the action some urgency, but the game is also plagued by obnoxiously repetitive character-specific sound bites. Additionally, there are some clunky aspects left over from Clash of Ninja, most notably the frustratingly slow turnaround time for characters when they end up facing away from their opponents.

Clash of Ninja 2 is slightly more fleshed out than its predecessor, but the few updates and changes do little to negate the sensation of sameness that the game exudes. The eight returning characters have received no enhancements, and most of the arenas you'll fight in were featured in the first game. It ultimately makes this technically superior sequel harder to recommend than the original, especially when you consider the close proximity of the two releases.

Review by Ryan Davis from [Link removed - login to see]

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Naruto: Clash of Ninja review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 11 August 2010 02:27 (A review of Naruto: Clash of Ninja)

Fans will appreciate the good-looking characters and hard-hitting attacks, but Clash of Ninja is an experience cut short by a pervasive lack of depth.

The Good Accessible, high-octane action * Good-looking characters sporting nice animation * Dude? Ninjas.
The Bad Gameplay lacks depth * Lots of voice overacting * Perfunctory selection of modes.

Shonen Jump's Naruto has found a strong following in both its manga and anime forms, due largely to its winning formula of oversized personalities, impossible powers, and of course, silly ninja antics. Naruto: Clash of Ninja casts the core of heroes and villains into a fighting game that, while lacking in features or depth, sports some good-looking fighters that brandish fun and powerful attacks.

As with any anime worth its salt, Naruto establishes itself with a ridiculously high-concept premise about evil nine-tailed fox demons, magic, and powerful ninjas. It's pretty trippy stuff, but Clash of Ninja makes the smart assumption that its audience is already well-versed in the Naruto lore and just wants to get down to the fighting already. As a fighting game, Clash of Ninja is simple and accessible, obviously designed for a younger audience, or at least a less discerning audience. Almost all attacks are dished out with the A and B buttons, and the nature of the attacks can be changed almost entirely by holding a direction with the analog stick. Combo attacks play a big role here, and though it's not exactly easy to button-mash your way into a killer 10-hit combo, it doesn't really require exacting precision, either. Though the characters can't fly per se, there's plenty of aerial action as many attacks will launch opponents into the air, setting them up for some mean juggles. Also, the classic ninja puff of smoke is of strategic importance here, as it's possible to fight above, below, or behind an opponent with a button press and a flick of the analog stick. The Y button throws opponents, and the X button can unleash a special move once you've filled your character's chakra meter, which will happen naturally over the course of a fight.

It can be an engaging game to watch. The eight different selectable fighters translate nicely from their flat animated origins into three-dimensional, cel-shaded models, which are given a nice, stark look with some potent self-shadowing. Smooth, powerful-looking animations are enhanced by bursts of light and clouds of dust, and the special attacks are pumped up by a cinematic camera angle and some purposeful pauses. Powerful sound effects and a driving soundtrack give additional weight to the action, though the characters' battle cries get repetitive quick.

As good as Clash of Ninja can be to look at, if you've played any kind of fighting game before, you'll master the techniques in Naruto in a matter of minutes, and once you've mastered one character, you've just about mastered them all. The characters simply don't have enough moves, and there's not enough to differentiate the characters. While many of the attacks can vary from character to character, with the special moves being especially unique, the basic combo patterns are too similar. Additional faults come to light quickly, like the slow turnaround time for a fighter that has ended up with their back to their opponent, or the arenas that are simply too small for the action, and usually rather drab looking.

Furthermore, Clash of Ninja has some seriously boring and predictable options for modes of play. What passes for a story mode here consists of a series of seven fights interrupted by some still frames of characters exchanging a few lines of dialog before launching into another fight. The dialog is about as weak and perfunctory as you might anticipate, and the voice acting plays right into some of the worst stereotypes of anime voice acting, with lots of hyperactive preteen shouting and cool, gravely threats from villains. That you can play through the story mode only as Naruto makes it especially useless. Beyond that, there's a one-player game in which you choose your character and play against all of the game's characters, a separate VS CPU mode in which you get to choose your fighter as well as your opponent, a straight two-player mode, and the prerequisite survival, time attack, and training modes. You can unlock some character art and bios by playing through some of the modes, but Clash of Ninja is generally lacking in incentives.

Even as fan service, Naruto: Clash of Ninja feels pretty lacking. After you've played each of the characters a few times, you've basically mastered them, and once you've played through each of the modes, which are few and generally short, there's little reason for you to come back. What Clash of Ninja does have are some slick-looking fighters pulling off some signature moves, and the potential for a much better sequel. That just may be enough for some fans.

Review by Ryan Davis from [Link removed - login to see]

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Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 10 August 2010 04:56 (A review of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm)

This enjoyable anime-inspired fighter nails the look and feel of the source material but places too much importance on mediocre minigames.

The Good
Combat is fast-paced and fun * Large and varied character roster * Great anime-style visuals and animation * Accessible control scheme.
The Bad
Village sequences are boring * No online play * Mandatory 4GB install.

Naruto Uzumaki is a colorful ninja who excels in combat but can be kind of annoying. It's therefore fitting (if unfortunate) that while Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm is a great fighting game, it's also one in which you have to endure a lengthy, story-driven Ultimate Mission mode in order to unlock most of the playable combatants. Ultimate Ninja Storm does a lot of things very well, but exploration, item collection, and storytelling are not among them.

The first thing you'll want to do in Ultimate Ninja Storm is pick a favorite character and dive right into combat. You can't play the game before its mandatory installation is finished, though, and because there's almost 4GB of information that needs to copy to your hard drive, you'll wait at least 10 minutes. Once that's out of the way, the Free Battle mode lets you choose who you want to fight as and against and where you want the fight to take place, and it gets the action under way with a minimum of fuss.

Although there's no tutorial option in Ultimate Ninja Storm, the controls are simple enough that they don't take long to figure out. The face buttons are used for jumps, projectiles, melee attacks, and chakra charging. The shoulder buttons are used to block and call in support characters. The D pad has four different items mapped to it, and the left analog stick is used for movement. You're free to run anywhere you like in the large arenas, and even when combatants are far apart the camera does a superb job of framing the action. Occasionally you might end up viewing the battle from a camera that's more or less looking over the shoulder of your opponent, but the shifts in perspective are so smooth and so intelligent that the action very rarely gets confusing. It's a testament to how great the camera is and how accessible the controls are that this holds true even when you end up defying gravity in fights that move from the ground to the vertical surfaces of walls in some arenas.

Since there's only one button used for melee attacks, that's your go-to anytime you're close enough to an opponent to land a punch. There are plenty of lengthy and satisfying combos that can be performed using very little else, but getting a combo started doesn't necessarily mean that you'll get to finish it. That's because blocking is relatively easy--though not to the point that you can simply hold down a shoulder button and never worry about getting hit. Once your guard is up you can hold it in place for a good amount of time, but this doesn't do you a lot of good. Your opponent will be charging up his storm gauge and become more powerful every time a blow lands, and ultimately your guard will fail and, because you were hiding behind it for so long, you'll be dazed for a few seconds when it breaks. There's an excellent risk-versus-reward mechanic that comes into play when you're having to play defensively; rather than keeping your guard up, you have the option to tap the block button repeatedly in an attempt to parry an attack the instant before it lands. If you succeed, you'll perform a substitution jutsu, evading the attack completely and appearing directly behind your opponent, ready to launch into a combo of your own.

One of Ultimate Ninja Storm's most interesting features is the use of chakra. You have a finite amount of this energy that can be used any time to make your existing moves more powerful, and the longer you charge up the chakra, the greater its effect is. You can dash across the screen in an instant by using it in conjunction with the jump button, for example, or turn three projectiles into 30 with a ranged attack. Using chakra with your melee attack will perform a character-specific jutsu attack, some of which look impressively like anime scenes as they play out. Managing your chakra can be every bit as important as guarding against an opponent's attacks--you can restore chakra at any time by standing still and holding down the chakra button, but doing so leaves you completely vulnerable.

Using your character's items well can also turn the tide of a battle on occasion, though it's unfortunate that reaching the D pad they're mapped to is almost impossible without briefly giving up either the left analog stick or the face buttons. Items that you can use at any time during a fight include consumables that boost stats and various thrown weapons that either lower the stats of enemies or simply do damage on impact. There's a lot of variety, and because some of the items are exclusive to certain characters, they're worth considering when it comes to choosing who to fight as. The basic controls might be the same for everyone, but the different fighting styles and battle items ensure that no two characters feel the same.

The problem is that only 12 of the 25 characters on the roster are available from the outset, and the only way to unlock the rest of them--along with extra moves, support characters, outfits, and awakening modes--is to play through the Ultimate Mission mode. Many of the missions you undertake are battles that you have to win while meeting certain conditions, and they make for some interesting challenges. Other missions, though, involve minigames that aren't nearly as much fun: You'll play hide-and-seek with the children of Hidden Leaf Village, you'll race through forests and vertically up the trunks of huge trees, and you'll wonder why you can't unlock the rest of the roster any other way. Worse still, wandering around Hidden Leaf Village between missions to find new missions and to collect the items and currency necessary to unlock new battle features stops being fun after 30 minutes, once you've seen everything.

Hidden Leaf Village looks great, but nothing interesting ever happens there. There are shops to visit, and there are characters with one or two lines of dialogue each to interact with; but until you near the end of the story missions (each is a flashback to a key event from one of the first 100-plus episodes of the anime), there's very little to test your skills there. Even the secret scrolls that you collect and subsequently spend on unlocking support characters are clearly marked on the map and impossible to miss, so picking them up feels more like a chore than a challenge. The controls you use while in Hidden Leaf are similar to those in combat, but here you use them in much more mundane ways. The only time you'll need to use your chakra, for example, is to open locked doors, and the only targets you'll be punching or throwing shuriken at are inanimate objects that all contain money or scrolls.

Regardless of the fact that Hidden Leaf is so beautifully realized in Ultimate Ninja Storm, and despite villagers' attempts to tell you that there are "a lot of people in it," the place feels deserted. More recognizable characters and generic villagers show up as you progress through the missions, but the village never really feels alive, and it would still feel quiet even if you multiplied the apparent population by 10. It's laughable, then, when one of your missions is to break up a fight between the characters Shino and Kiba, who, in an empty space that could comfortably accommodate a few hundred people, are arguing about getting in each other's way. More laughable still is the notion that their fight (read: quiet disagreement) is supposedly bothering people. Still, when other missions on offer include challenges like "play for 20 hours" and "walk 20,000 paces," that one almost qualifies as a highlight.

The real high points of the Ultimate Mission Mode--and, sadly, there are very few of them--are the boss battles that pit you against "giant" characters like Gamabunta and Gaara. Beating these missions requires a combination of the skills you've learned in regular combat and some rapid button-pressing reflexes for cinematic events during which command prompts appear onscreen. These encounters are not only the most spectacular-looking features of the game, but they're also a lot of fun and, since they're generally bookended by cutscenes, are some of the only times that the story is delivered via something other than a scroll of text.

Ultimate Ninja Storm does a great job of looking, sounding, and feeling like its source material. The combat is a lot of fun with a friend or against any of the AI's four difficulty settings. Unfortunately, though, to get the most from it you have to spend a minimum of 10 to 15 hours playing and replaying missions in a mode that's artificially long. The lack of online play is also disappointing given that it's practically a requisite for the genre at this point. Ultimate Ninja Storm's biggest problem as a fighting game is simply that it isn't just a fighting game.

Review by Justin Calvert from [Link removed - login to see]

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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 10 August 2010 04:19 (A review of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3)

This Naruto fighter packs in plenty of fan service but forgets to include the fun.

The Good
Beautiful visuals, including some spectacular attack animations * Tons of unlockable characters, artwork, music, and other goodies.
The Bad
Combat is shallow and unsatisfying * Side-scrolling levels are dull and control poorly * Uninspired storytelling makes no effort to pull in those unfamiliar with Naruto.

A game like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 has to do two things to be a success. It has to deliver on the Naruto name by providing content that will appeal to fans of the popular anime series, and it has to make fighting as the titular blond ninja and his friends or foes enjoyable. Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 pays out in spades on the first point but fails to deliver on the second. As a result, it ends up feeling like fan-service halfheartedly disguised as a video game.

The meat of the game is in a mode called the Master Road, which picks up with Naruto returning to Hidden Leaf Village after an absence of two-and-a-half years. He barely has time to fight a few sparring matches before his friend Gaara is kidnapped by the evil Akatsuki organization. The story of the subsequent rescue attempt and what follows is spread out across the seven chapters that make up the Master Road. This will all be familiar territory for Naruto fans, but the story is told so incoherently and throws so many characters and clan names at you that players unacquainted with the source material will be lost. 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 Naruto. 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 jutsu attacks and tactics that you can activate to enhance attributes like attack power and speed. You're regularly given the chance to use points earned for completing missions to purchase movies, music, and character artwork as well. 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. In some missions, you must defeat a certain number of enemies to advance; other times, your goal is to reach the end within a certain time limit. 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.

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 the game itself make any effort to familiarize you with your attacks. (Your best bet is the practice mode, where you can view a command list of your attacks and test them out on dummy opponents.) But this hardly matters because you can just mindlessly unleash strings of attacks until your opponents go down. There's rarely a need to think about what you're doing, and while you can eventually unlock upward of 50 characters, they don't bring any additional depth to the action. Each character does have a unique, visually stunning ultimate jutsu move that you can unleash if you have enough chakra, but these moves are so easy to pull off that the sense of satisfaction that comes from sending your opponent flying hundreds of meters into a mountainside quickly wears off. There's also a slight but noticeable delay between when you push a button and when your character performs the attack, sapping any sense of immediacy and impact from the combat. The side-scrolling levels are equally problematic. Your jumps are slow and floaty when quick and responsive is what you want for avoiding the obstacles in your way. But despite the poor controls, making your way to the exit is usually a simple matter of holding left or right and leaping over the enemies and dangers. Simple and dull. You'll soon long for the Master Road to offer you something other than these two basic types of missions, but it never does, which makes most of your journey along the road a real slog.

In addition to Master Road, there are practice and free battle modes. Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3 also supports ad hoc multiplayer for up to four players. Many missions in Master Road let players invite a friend or three to help them out, and the wireless battle option lets you and your friends challenge each other. It's nice to see this functionality supported, but it doesn't change the fact that the gameplay is shallow and bland. There's no shortage of far-superior multiplayer fighting games available for the PSP, making this one impossible to recommend for solo players or those eager for human competition.

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. Enthusiastic voice performances are the highlight of the game's sound, though you'll quickly tire of hearing Naruto declare "Health recovery!" and "Finders keepers!" nearly every time he grabs a power-up.

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. It's just more than this particular game can manage.

Review by Carolyn Petit from [Link removed - login to see]

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Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress review

Posted : 13 years, 9 months ago on 10 August 2010 04:13 (A review of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress)

The Phantom Fortress is full of lame minigames, occasional fights, and tons of repetition. Enter at your own risk.

The Good
Solid visual presentation * You can play matches with a friend who doesn't own the game.
The Bad
The combat is recycled * The single-player campaign is bloated and boring * Minigames don't hold up over the course of the lengthy campaign.

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress is a mostly recycled fighting game placed within a hollow adventure. To lay its basic contents bare, this game contains a lengthy single-player campaign called The Mugenjo, a series of team battles called Heroes mode, a head-to-head battle, a bonus content area called Ninja Road, and finally, Naruto's House, where you can view purchased bonus items. It's a ton of content, and it would take you well over 10 hours to explore all of it. It will take you only about two hours, though, to get tired of it.

The single-player campaign, The Mugenjo, takes place in the Phantom Fortress. This floating palace of doom is 99 stories tall, and each story contains several rooms and stairs. For instance, when you take the stairs up from the third floor, you'll find that there are two or three rooms between you and the stairs up to the fifth floor. In all likelihood, the two or three rooms in front of you will be blank. This means you need to "summon" a room through which to travel. To do this, you need to use a room-summoning scroll. At any given time, you have four of these, and when you use one, it's replaced by another at random.

Here are the types of rooms you will be able to summon: battle (a single match against a CPU opponent), pop quiz (a three-question quiz on Naruto lore), clone room (three-card monte), shadow possession (button-press mimicking), tree climbing (branch-dodging test of speed), and amusement room (slot machines). It's not exactly what you would hope for in a floating palace of wonder and excitement. Here's the worst part: The castle has 99 floors, and you generally have to play through two or three summoned rooms on each one. Even worse, winning or losing in a summoned room has no bearing on the plot. The only thing your performance in a summoned room affects is the number of ninja points you get, and these are used to buy screenshots, audio tracks and the like from the bonus area. This makes the mini-games seem frustratingly pointless.

The only rooms you need to make sure you complete successfully are battle rooms. You aren't playing as just one person; you're a whole four-person team of ninjas. So if you lose a match, the next ninja steps in and resumes the fight. If you intentionally lose four fights in a row, the game asks you if you want to choose a new difficulty and then restarts you at the beginning of the match you just lost, with all of your ninjas completely recovered.

There are three types of rooms in the floating castle that you don't summon. These are healing rooms, treasure rooms, and drama rooms. Healing rooms heal all your ninjas and refresh your ninja skills; treasure rooms contain items you can use in battle; and drama rooms are where the plot happens. Most treasure rooms are behind some kind of barrier, like a pile of rocks, and you can use a special technique to clear the way and get your treasure. But wait! You have a limited number of these techniques (until you find a healing room and refresh them), and they can also be used to open up shortcuts. This creates a dilemma: Do you want to go straight to the next floor or play a game of three-card monte and take a pop quiz to get your hands on two healing medicines in the treasure room? Unless you're a huge three-card monte fan, the choice should be pretty simple.

The only remotely interesting rooms are the drama rooms. You'll find one of these every several floors, and each relays a small tidbit of the overarching plot. There is one big problem here: It's a 15-minute story stretched over a six-hour trek up 99 floors of pop quizzes and repetitive fights. You'll get to the point where you don't care what the deal is with the Princess of Dusk if it means fighting Gaara again or, even worse, taking another quiz.

The Mugenjo fails as a single-player campaign in that it's simply not worth finishing. That leaves Heroes mode, where you pick a team of ninjas and fight against other teams. But by the time you've given up on The Mugenjo, you will probably be too tired of the game's ultrasimple combat to care. This is the same fighting system found in Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3, which pretty much makes it the same one found in the other three Ultimate Ninja games as well. This fighting system is barely deep enough to last one game, much less an entire series.

There is one attack button, and it does different things depending on the direction you press on the D pad. You can also teleport toward your opponent by pressing jump twice. You can activate a special attack by hitting a button and then successfully executing a normal attack. This leads to a brief cinematic that shows you executing the special attack, which then hits for considerable damage. Fights go like this: You teleport up, beat the crap out of your opponent until your special attack meter is full, and then try to execute a special attack. If your opponent blocks it or smacks you, you repeat the process. If you successfully land the special attack and your opponent doesn't die, you also repeat the process. It's very boring. On the bright side, it's also very accessible. If you wirelessly play matches against friends who don't own the game, they'll pick up the controls in no time.

The rest of the game is much less cool. For instance, Ninja Road. This feature lets you spend points on bonus content. Every 100 points buys you one bonus. For some reason, the whole thing is displayed as a 2D Naruto walking down a road, picking up bonuses every 10 meters. Ten meters, by the way, translates into 100 ninja points.

Phantom Fortress looks good, especially during combat. The animation is fluid and the frame rate is stable. The story parts also look pretty good, except that they aren't fully animated. Fortunately, no corners were cut with the sound production. The music is straight from the show and and there is a ton of authentic voice-over work in both English and Japanese.

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress is a boring game. Even if it didn't try to convince you to take so many quizzes, the weak plot and completely recycled combat would fail to inspire an "Ooh," much less an "Aah." Rather, the bevy of bad minigames and the uninspired bonus acquisition system are sure to elicit some yawns. After only a few hours, you will probably be ready for this Phantom Fortress to disappear.

Review by Joe Dodson from [Link removed - login to see]

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