Apologies for a rather unexplained absence, due to a shattered elbow (not the most fun way to spend 6 weeks, awkwardly trying to balance a controller in a cast), my ole' faithful giving me the RROD treatment after 3 years of being my loyal servant and gaming partner, was actually most gutted about that which is so weird, as well as matters of my personal life giving me hell, but here is so not the place to discuss any of that really is it?
So, I decided that I would review my latest obsession, the rather expansive Naruto games franchise. So far I have played 3 of these games and have to say that they piqued my interest further when is came to the anime and manga franchise and as a result I really am totally and completely hooked and it seems to be a long term addiction. Not that I mind really but it does prevent me from getting things done!
Developed by: Ubisoft
Platform: Xbox 360.
Starting at the very beginning of the story of the number 1 Knuckleheaded Ninja. This game begins with the Academy Graduation exam where a group of young shinobi begin their careers as Ninja. The Hidden Leaf Village is full citizens who detest Naruto, which leads to a torrent of abuse until you perform a number of social quests to make them become more friendly towards Naruto. This game covers the first 3 series of the anime, from the Land of Waves story to the Chunin Exams and climaxes with the epic battle for survival between Naruto, Sakaura and Sasuke.
Game play is pretty simple both in battle and in the field, although it has to be said that the missions and quests do become repetitive and it follows the linear story of Naruto's progression. You can perform techniques with the use of the left trigger and the analogue thumb sticks, but the controls tend to be explained to you as you go along. The game almost teaches you how to play which is nice. You become aware of Jutsu which are learned from talking to Kakashi, The 3rd Hokage, Iruka and the lovable Pervy sage. You earn star points for each mission completed and these can be traded for new skills or even improvements on jutsu and over all abilities.
Outside the story there are a number of support quests and missions that Naruto can do to improve himself further. This includes the rather entertaining Ramen deliveries for Naruto's favourite Ramen shop, a race against time to deliver meals to hungry customers who are waiting in some of odd places including rooftops and even over the lake. You can engage in timed games of Hide and Seek with the Hokage's grandson Konahamaru, races given down to Naruto from Jonin and even small skirmishes with Naruto's friends.
Over all this game is entertaining to play but there are a few short comings with it. The first of which is some of the voice actors are not the ones used in the original anime and some of them sound so weird, confusing to the player. Also the random encounters and inability to heal in battle does become somewhat frustrating, especially after you have been playing for 8 hours and just want to get something done. Yes... I sat there for 11 hours playing this thing! Laughing at making Naruto fart by holding the charge buttons for too long. Online mode is a bit dead, but I think that is purely down to how old the game is so I can't hold that against the game.
Overall Score: 7/10
Entertaining, but I wish there had been more to do.
Naruto The Broken Bond (2008)
Developed by: Ubisoft
Platform: Xbox 360
Ubisoft really pulled out the stops in their second effort in the Naruto game franchise. Carrying on exactly where the first game left off and the player is to take part in the final battle between Orochimaru and Sarutobi Sensei, before going through the next stages of the the funeral and the quest to find Tsunade. The player goes through the next few parts of the story, this time being able to play as other youngsters in the Konoha 11. Theres more in store in terms of minigames, side missions and the return of the rather entertaining "Lovelorn Villagers."
Again theres the fun of exploring the expansive village, but some areas are much easier to reach. The tree action sequences which gave me a lot of hassle before have been improved and they're a lot more do-able. The environments actually have more detail and are rendered even better than before. There is a much better Vs mode with more characters which can be unlocked. There is something enjoyable about kicking the snot out of someone as Itachi and using Sharingan to my advantage. In this game you learn the powerful Rasengan and Chidori techniques as well as using certain characters to access certain areas.
The story mode is a bit more exciting and cuts out a lot of the fillers that were in the later series of the anime, but the story does progress to Sasuke's deflection from the village and the pursuit for him. With unlockable characters such as Kimimaro and the other Sound Ninja, Kisame Hoshigaki and Cursemark Sasuke. This is like an expansion of the 1st game, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining.
My biggest gripe however was the slightly dizzy camera or a slight glitch where the characters will forget to follow you meaning you have the irksome task of fetching them.
Overall Score: 8/10
Excellent 2nd game and brilliant follow up to Rise of A Ninja.
Right your review of "Ulitimate Ninja Storm" will be on it's way, but I wanted to play a lot more before writing it, but I assure you. It is coming soon.