Published on November 6th, 2007 | by treschonde
Naruto: Rise of a Ninja Review
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed]
Release Date: October 30, 2007
Naruto: Rise of the Ninja is a platforming fighter game, based on the wildly popular manga and anime series. Naruto follows the story of a young boy ninja growing up in a village where everyone fears and avoids him.
Years ago, a fox demon warred the country, and the only way to defeat it was to seal it away in a vessel, and Naruto as an orphan baby was chosen. Now, Naruto is a young adolescent, trying to gain the respect of his village, and become the best ninja he can by never giving up.
This game is the first original title based on the license produced outside of Japan, and the first Naruto title on the Xbox 360. Since the previous titles have been Nintendo and Playstation (not including ps3), this is a huge console step for the series, and Ubisoft has done a wonderful job.
Story & Gameplay
For a role player like me, naturally I gravitate to the story mode gameplay first. And thankfully, unlike most of the predecessor titles, this is where the game truly shines.
The game starts at the beginning of the Naruto saga, explaining the background of Naruto and the village of Konoha (“Hidden in Leaves”). Ubisoft did a fairly good job making the story accessible to both veteran fans and newcomers alike.
To accomplish this, they spliced into the 3d game scenes various cuts from the Americanized anime version. Sometimes these cuts to video are a bit off, and bits of story seem to be missing. For veteran fans, these pieces fill in. But I can imagine a player being slightly lost from time to time. The scenes from the anime that are included are often highly abridged, cutting to the core content. You’re experiencing over 80 episodes of content in under 10 hours of gameplay. I wish the story game had been longer, for newcomers to really connect with Naruto and experience his growth as a ninja. Still, the mesh of 3d and anime works just well enough to tell a great story, or for veteran fans, to relive it.
Ahh, sweet sweet cel shading, how we love thee. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Naruto console title with bad cel shading, and Ubisoft certainly doesn’t disappoint in its 360 premiere Naruto game. Some of the predecessor titles look a little closer to the characters, but where this game comes through is the environment. The environments are designed with a bit more of a realistic feel, giving contrast between them and the characters, and yet look fantastically just like their anime counterparts.
In particular, the village of Konoha is massive and breathtaking to explore. At first, all of the streets and rooftops can be confusing, but any player can quickly learn to make use of their minimap to get around. With time, you’ll be running from one end of the village to the other at superman speeds, and still enjoying every visual around you.
The other stunning aspect of the graphics here are in combat. When performing your special moves, a minigame based on your special appears, in which you compete with your opponent to land hits. Not only do all of the effects look brilliant in the special moves, the minigames to complete them (especially for Naruto’s) are integrated directly, and make it seem just that more badass.
I’ve saved most of the talk about the combat system until now because most of the combats in the story game are fairly easy, and somewhat repetitive. The combat system plays much like most of the previous combat Naruto titles. Two buttons of attack type, a jump, and a block. The attack buttons are stringed into combos, and you can escape (“Replacement Jutsu”) out of an enemy combo with the block button. Various combos will knock the opponent down for longer, giving you more time to play Dance Dance Revolution on the analog sticks in order to launch your special move. Every character also has an ability known as Rage, which you can enter once you’ve been beaten on quite a bit, enhancing your speed and strength, as well as preventing all damage to you. Rage only lasts about 6 seconds, but those few seconds can be deadly.
Multiplayer here has 3 main utilities: Console versus, online versus, and ranked versus. The ranked system is called “Forest of Death”, in which you compete one on one with random live players, and attempt to get 6 wins against 6 different players. If you are defeated, you are knocked out of the ranks, and must start again. The purpose of winning each rank is to get points, which accumulate and can be seen by anyone on the Scoreboard. For each character you play as and defeat the Forest of Death, you win an Achievement.
The Good, the Bad, and my Recommendations on the next page…