Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 Review

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 is the latest in a series of Naruto-based games. Unlike the last Naruto game we reviewed, this one goes back to the 2D fighting genre. Utilizing characters from the Naruto universe, the anime’s story (it’s around the same spot as the current U.S. arc), nice graphics, and a new combo system, is this the best Naruto title to hit American shores yet?

The game revolves around (surprise!) the adventures of America’s favorite blond-haired ninja with a demon fox sealed inside his body. Like other Naruto titles, Ultimate Ninja 2 features several gameplay modes, including a story mode and adventure more along with the other staples such as training and versus. The story in single player borrows heavily from the anime series, with most of its action coming straight from the screen (or pages). It picks up right after Ultimate Ninja (and during the end of the Hunter–err, I mean "Chuunin" exam), and continues roughly to Tsunade’s promotion.

During the adventure, you’ll take control of several characters in pre-determined fights. As Leaf Village ninja you’ll fight foes such as Gaara, Kabuto, and a few others fans will love to see (including some not in the actual Naruto canon).

The game has a large cast of Naruto characters, each with unique attacks and animations. This, however, leads to the game’s biggest flaw: fighting is nearly identical no matter whom you pick. Most attacks are the same few combinations for all characters (and almost always involve circle), the only difference being how hard it hits, how far it reaches, and other minor things. On one hand, this ensures that you’ll be competent no matter which ninja you’re forced to use. On the other, it helps negate what most fighting fans love: mastering a single character far more than anyone else.

The battles also turn into a button mashing contest at times, largely due to nothing more than frustration. Hearing complaints about the lackluster AI in Ultimate Ninja, CyberConnect2 seems to have upped the ante a bit in Ultimate Ninja 2. Unfortunately, this leads to many of the harder characters and "boss" fights blocking nearly all of your attacks. It won’t be unheard of to face the same foes over, and over, and over, and over, and over in a Groundhog Day or GrimGrimoire style of events until you finally get lucky and beat them.

Despite the lackluster combat, I have to admit the special attacks are rather nice looking. By pressing triangle 1-3 times your character can charge his chakra (think mana or energy for you non-Naruto fans). Once it’s charged, you have one chance to land a blow. Hit your opponent, and you enter a mini-game of sorts where you perform tasks such as input buttons faster than your opponent, or spin the analog stick more times. Pull it off successfully, and you’ll enter the second and then third stages of the attack. Lose, and the attack ends and/or your opponent takes less damage.

After landing a third-tier special, your character is also imbued with a power-up status. For characters with actually statuses in the universe, this means you’ll get the power of Kyuubi for a bit, the byakuugan, sharingan, open the gates, etc.; others will receive increased stats.

Speaking of stats, another nice feature is the ability to customize your fighter(s). As you win fights you’re awarded experience, which can be used to raise attributes for the fighter you use. You can never truly change them, but it’s nice to customize them a bit. Also helping with this is the ability learn new jutsus with characters; although it is odd for someone like Neji to learn the abilities that define characters such as Naruto and Sasuke, thankfully it’s kept a little in check as characters such as Rock Lee could never learn complicated ninjutsu.

All in all, Ultimate Ninja 2 is an average fighting game with some nice features. The repetitive attacks for all characters and the constant use of circle takes away from what would have been an incredible title. The game is saved by the characters, decent story (for once), and customization abilities. If you’re a fan of Naruto, consider picking this one up-especially if you have a friend to play against. However, if you’re just looking for a new fighting game, there are plenty of better options out there.



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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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