Year of Naruto
Product: Naruto
Company: No Company
Date: 07/17/2007
Avaliable On:

In the past, the anime show that has dominated the video game industry has been Dragon Ball Z. But this year, with only one DBZ title set to release and four Naruto games slated for release, that title seems to have been passed on.

Probably the most anticipated of these games is Naruto's first venture onto a next-gen system, Naruto: Rise of a Ninja from Ubisoft. Play through the events of the first 80 episodes of the series (through the Chunin Exams and the death of the Third Hokage) in a semi-open world environment filled with action and Naruto fan-fare. Fights are pretty straightforward and work the characters' jutsus (special attacks) by imitating the hand signs with the two analog sticks. Rise of a Ninja is a 360 exclusive and is scheduled to be released this Fall.

Namco/Bandai, who previously published all Naruto titles, is putting out a PSP (Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes) and a PS2 (Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2) title. The PSP game is the first wireless enabled Naruto fighting game. In Ultimate Ninja Heroes, you will also be able to customize your characters, create your dream squad and share your profiles with friends via the PSP's ad hoc connection. Your squad can be comprised of any of 20 characters from the show, and based on who you have grouped together, different skills can come about. This game will also sport six different types of versus matches. You will get to do everything from basic one on one fights to three versus three and every combination in between.

Meanwhile, as a continuation of the previous Uzumaki Chronicles game, Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2 for the PS2, goes through an original story involving an ancient clan, The Shirogane, who are trying to collect several orbs that will call forth a mechanical beast who will destroy the land. Now Naruto and the rest of the characters from the show must stop them and their Puppet Walkers before it is too late. Like the previous game, this one is a series of missions that tend to be more than just "fight this opponent." Instead, missions could involve fighting off waves of enemies or performing very specific attacks while in a battle.

The third company to offer Naruto-based games is D3 in conjunction with TOMY Corporation. They are sticking with the Nintendo system with Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution for the Wii and Naruto: Path of the Ninja for the DS.

Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution is not only the license's first jaunt onto the Wii, but it will also feature characters that have not been seen in any of the previous Clash of Ninja games. Clash of Ninja Revolution will have a total of 14 playable characters like Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura, and the game will also sport six different stages. To top it off, each stage has two battle areas, so if you play things out right, you can send your opponent flying into a change of scenery. Players of the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai line will be very familiar with this feature. And it wouldn't be a Wii game without some mini-games designed to work perfectly with the Wii.

Clash of Ninja Revolution is anticipated for release this Fall alongside D3 and TOMY's other Naruto game, Naruto: Path of the Ninja.

In Path of the Ninja, you will get to explore the Village Hidden in the Leaves and various other locations from the show. The game boasts six playable characters who use a unique time-based combat system and can learn new jutsus (there are over 90 different techniques in Path of the Ninja). This will be the second Naruto game to make it to the DS, and the previous title, Naruto: Ninja Council 3, did a fairly good job of using everything from the touch-screen to the mic to help pull off the Naruto feel. It will be interesting to see how well a different line handles the same system.

With all of these Naruto games coming out, any one of them should be enough to keep fans of the show happy, but since it is so many coming out at once, we will have to hope we don't start to suffer from a kind of Naruto burnout.

J.R. Nip aka Chris Meyer

GameVortex PSIllustrated