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Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Destiny 2: Destiny Returns

Company: Tomy Ltd.

Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Destiny 2 brings back one of the more unique Naruto fighting games for the DS, and this time, not only do the story and characters draw from the licenses' second series, but it also adds a more robust Story mode that should appeal to a lot of gamers.

Ninja Destiny 2 will start off with Naruto returning to the village after several years of training under Master Jiraiya, and now feeling ready to once again start up his quest to find Sasuke and bring him home. The game's story will actually take players to Naruto's first encounter with his former teammate in three years, spanning two major story arcs and 50+ episodes from the "Shippuden" anime series. And as you would expect, many, if not all of the characters from those episodes will appear in Ninja Destiny 2 upping the fighting game's roster from 19 playable characters to 34.

Included among these 34 characters are all of the ones from the first game (allowing you to switch between their current Shippuden style and their previous outfits), as well as fan favorites like Yamato, Sai and Chiyo. And, as followers of the second series will no doubt guess, a few Akatsuki members will also show up as bosses.

Ninja Destiny 2 also adds to the gameplay options in offering a more robust Story mode, as well as wireless play and a Survival mode (something the previous game was found lacking), but as for the fighting itself, everything should be just as you remember it (with the addition of new characters and jutsu, of course). One of the main features of Ninja Destiny's fighting style is the ability to use the touch screen to activate various inventory items that do everything from alter your stats to throw weapons at your opponents, and that aspect of the game has been left firmly intact with this new release.

As for the other modes, the most noticeable change is in the Story. Now players will be treated to some light dungeon crawling and minimal RPG elements as you progress through the show's story, hitting on random fights and culminating in major boss battles, all the while picking up objects to use in your fights and unlocking new playable characters. This new Story mode is designed to make the game feel like much more than just a simple fighter and bring the show's rich characters to the forefront instead of just using the standard portrait-word-bubble approach found in most other anime-based fighting games.

But the fun doesn't end with Story mode. The other new mode, Quest, is an extension of the Story for 10 characters (Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, Kakashi, Sai, Yamato, Neji, Shikimaru, Might Guy and Rock Lee). In this mode, the characters will progress through 30 randomly generated levels, each ending in a boss battle and through these adventures, you will unlock even more characters for the other modes.

According to the developers, one of the nice touches about Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Destiny 2 is that it's translation from the original Japanese version will include far fewer edits than before. In past Naruto titles, the games had to be released in accordance to what episodes have aired on TV, and apparently some story-editing was also done to make it conform more to the English version of events. So early Naruto games would only take you to Naruto's first few missions, even though there was a backlog of games in Japan covering events leading up to the filler section. Now, since Viz Media is putting the translated shows up on their website for streaming as soon as they can, those restrictions are much fewer, if they even exist. Now the games don't have to wait on the storyline's air-date before they can be released.

Ninja Destiny 2 is slated to hit the streets on September 15th, so fans of the licence should keep an eye out for this newest DS title. Even if you didn't find the first game all too engaging, there seems to have been enough additions to Ninja Destiny's second outing to make the experience more worthwhile.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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