Xbox 360 - Naruto: Rise Of a Ninja
Author: Nikolai De Policia
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
After seeing a long line of crappy video game adaptations of popular TV shows come and go (i.e. The Simpsons games, every other Naruto game preceding this one), I have to admit that even as a fan of the Japanese cartoon, I was extremely cynical as I popped this one into my Xbox 360. In order for a video game to successfully replicate an existing TV show, it must satisfy two main criteria. Firstly, it must live up to the expectations of the fans of the series in capturing the atmosphere and nature of the characters of the show and bringing them into the video game realm. Secondly, the game must be careful not alienate those gamers who have never seen an episode of the series in their life. And after many hours of quality time with my Xbox and this TV show turned video game, I have to say that Naruto: Rise of a Ninja accomplishes all of the above.
In essence, Naruto: Rise of a Ninja is really two good games in one box. The single player story mode tracks the journey of the aspiring ninja Naruto Uzumaki (or Uzumaki Naruto for the angry Japanese Naruto fans), as he endeavors to gain the respect of his ninja peers and the residents of the Leaf Village of Konoha. This will basically take you through the first 80 episodes of the series moving in and out of cut scenes from the actual show and game play. For those familiar with the series it will be either pleasantly nostalgic or boring depending on how many times you have watched these episodes. As for those new to the Naruto universe it will be a good interactive summary of a very entertaining storyline.
The key downfall of the story mode however, which was very annoying, is the extremely slow pace at which it starts. The first hour or so consists of a bunch of charity missions; fetching farmers potatoes and finding money for shopkeepers who can’t afford to run their own business. However, it does give you a chance to find your way around the city as well as take in the amazing graphics the game has to offer. And if you do manage to stick around past the first part as an errand boy you will be rewarded accordingly with increased abilities and skills which make the game much, much more enjoyable.
The key feature of this game, which is not only the center of the two-player VS mode and the Xbox live capabilities of the game but is also the driving force of the story-mode, is the fighting system. Beating your opponent into submission is accomplished by combining two primary components. The first is hand to hand combat know to the ninja as Taijutsu. This consists of various punches and kicks that can be combined to form combos that inflict moderate injury. The second, more interesting aspect of the Naruto fighting engine is the use of your “Jutsu’s” or special techniques to do some major damage. These Jutsu can be unleashed after building up the required power called “chakra” and performing the appropriate button combinations. If performed successfully, these special moves, which are unique to each character, can have devastating results.
The fighting that takes place in Naruto: Rise of a Ninja was such a pleasant surprise not because of any ground breaking movements or epic combinations, but rather in its simplicity, and its ability to capture and recreate the same feeling that you get when watching these battles take place in the cartoon. Whether or not you are familiar with the characters in the cartoon, it is easy to see how much effort has been put into detailing the uniqueness of each player’s movements and style.
All in all, Ubisoft has succeeded in creating a Naruto game that can finally satisfy the fans of the cartoon as well as bring on board some new fans too. The graphics are awesome, the fighting is refreshing and if you’re able to suffer through the first hour of the story mode, the adaptation of the story of Naruto Uzumaki has for once done the series justice.