Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes Review

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes is the latest effort in the blond-haired, fox demon possessing ninja’s quest to infiltrate American households. Based on the popular anime and manga, the game features Naruto favorites battling it out for one reason or another. The good news? For a PSP fighter, it’s a fun game, and something you can easily pick up and play. The bad news? This is essentially just a PSP port of Ultimate Ninja 2 with a few minor additions and omissions.

For some reason, the story mode available in the Japanese version of Ultimate Ninja Heroes didn’t make the cut in the American release. What this means is that this game has no real story mode to speak of; instead, we get the Heroes mode.

In the Heroes mode, you select your team of three fighters, and take part in a variety of battles against other teams of varying sizes. Before the battle begins you’re able to select who goes first, second, and third, and utilize any special skills your team possesses. For example, on Team Guy, TenTen is able to heal 33% of any character’s life three times, Lee is able to reduce an opponents HP by 33% once, and Neji can seal an opponents chakra once. Each team also has a team-specific skill; in the case of Team Guy, it’s increased speed and jumping.

Unfortunately, you aren’t able to switch out fighters on the fly. Instead, your fighters will switch in and out when the preceding one is KOed. This simple omission takes out a lot of fun, because once your character has been fighting a few opponents, they’ll be low on health, forcing you to take them out for the next round in order to gain HP back. You also can’t bring in characters better suited for a specific opponent unless you sacrifice the fighter(s) before him.

This hurts a lot once you play on the higher difficulties. When you get past the Easy and Normal modes, you’re in for a very rough ride. Often you’ll barely scrape through the first few battles, only to lose horribly to the final team, which will usually have insane stat boosts across the board. If you aren’t prepared to lose a lot in order to get better, do yourself a favor and avoid this game now; you may save yourself the trouble of exchanging a broken PSP.

When playing the Heroes mode, you gain points to customize your character’s stats, and also unlock bonuses such as art and movies. The downside is that when it comes to the bonuses, there’s nothing really awesome. Most of it is fairly generic stuff; the removal of the story mode certainly hurts in that regard. You can also earn scrolls which can be used to partake in Promotion Challenges to increase your standing. Promotion Challenges are composed of simple tasks (such as "Beat this guy!") and completing the whole set increases your rank, just like in the Naruto show and manga.

The ability to play against other PSP owners via ad-hoc (even if they don’t have the game) is a good one (hey, fighting fans love multiplayer), but the system is hampered by extremely long and frustrating load times. If you’re patient enough to let it start, though, there’s really not much slowdown in-game.

Between the unlockables in Heroes mode, the ability to power-up your customized ninja, the Promotion challenges and ad-hoc play, Ultimate Ninja Heroes is a very solid – and very fun – PSP fighting experience. Unfortunately, the button-mashing nature of it and the load times take away a bit of the fun. But for Naruto fans or fighting fans looking to get their dose of ninjaness on the go, this is definitely worth a purchase.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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