Game Reviewby Andrew Yoon, Aug 29th 2007
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2
Taking place shortly after the Chunin Exams, Naruto continues his journey to become the greatest ninja ever. With over 30 playable characters in 16 stages, this fighting game has players fighting Itachi and his minions.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 is a great example of how to make a licensed fighter. Not only does the game offer fantastic graphics, it stays true to the series' trademark story through its gameplay and presentation. It's easy enough for beginners to pick up and play, and fun enough for series newcomers. However, it's clear that Cyber Connect 2 truly understands the nuances of the Naruto franchise: fans of the Shonen Jump series, hardcore and casual alike, will find a lot to appreciate in Ultimate Ninja 2.
At the heart of this fighter is a combat system that stays incredibly faithful to the techniques employed in the actual anime. The basics are simple: a jump button, a single attack button, an item button and the ability to prepare a secret technique. Sure, there's only one button dedicated to attacks, but each character has a formidable variety of moves to employ. A simple look at each characters' move list shows a great deal of depth. Fighters hungry for complex button combinations will be more than satisfied, especially with some of the later advanced characters.
Like in the anime, characters are encouraged to dodge and counter as frequently as possible. Characters will be able to teleport to behind their enemies, with properly timed counters. Special attacks can also be dodged, and at times, countered. In higher level play, each player will become much more cautious with their moves, trying to find the most opportune moments to take advantage of their opponent's weaknesses. There are varying levels of special attacks that can be employed, depending on the amount of chakra (special energy) a character has—and successfully landing these attacks can drastically change the direction of a battle.
At first, it appears that the counters are much too easy to pull off, and overpowered. Simply by preparing the special attack and landing a successful blow will the player be able to launch a cinematic sequence. For example, Naruto may summon a frog. During these sequences, both players will have to input buttons that appear on the screen, or rotate their analog sticks. These inputs do a great job of emulating the feel of saying a lengthy jutsu, and give the attacking player a chance to continue to a higher-level sequence. It also allows defending players a chance to recover some damage, or stop the attack downright.
There is a good deal of variety in these special attacks, and they really accentuate each character's personality. At higher levels of play, it becomes increasingly clear that these special attacks are exactly that—special. Enemies unsurprisingly act with ninja-like speed, and the extra second it takes to prepare a jutsu makes it incredibly difficult to land. As these special attacks become rarer, players become far more appreciative of their devastating power. Many lengthy clashes will end in a epic showing of a player successfully being able to pull off a special, just like in the anime.
The Ultimate Road mode offers an excellent framework for players to engage in some of the series' most famous battles. The story continues directly after the first Ultimate Ninja game, and takes Naruto to the battles after the Chunin Exams. During the game, he will meet the incredibly terrifying Itachi. Each battle has a set number of parameters which make the battles feel far more true to the series, and increases the difficulty accordingly. For example, the battles against Itachi never have you actually defeating him. Instead, the game may ask you to try and survive as long as possible.
Any serious Naruto fan will be delighted to see incredible battles, such as one where the player must control the Third Hokage in his battle against Orochimaru. Our battle started and ended exactly the same way it did in the anime—and that was completely unplanned! Unfortunately, the story ends somewhat abruptly before continuing on its own original side-story. Regardless, we were thoroughly impressed by the incredibly exciting story, and how faithful it was to the series.
With over 30 playable characters in 16 stages, there's a lot to discover in the game. Players can earn money to unlock even more content in the game. With great presentation that's true to the anime, a fantastic battle system, fun multiplayer, and a fantastic single-player adventure, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 comes easily recommended.
Overall : B+
Graphics : B
Sound/Music : B-
Gameplay : B+
Presentation : A-
+ Great storytelling relives the greatest moments in Naruto franchise. Fun, easy to understand. True to the series.
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