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Naruto: Clash of Ninja

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: D3
Developer: Tomy Ltd.
Media: GCD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Fighting/ Themed/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Believe it! Naruto: Clash of Ninja is a great fighter. It looks great, sounds great and plays great. Visual appeal is evident from the moment you launch the first battle. The backgrounds are in motion and there's great depth of field that gives the game environment more interest. The look is definitely inspired by anime, even to the extent that effects like smoke, fire and clouds have a cel-shaded look about them. Special moves sometimes completely take over the screen, and even the Sexy Jutsu is here intact! I would have liked more of a close-up on that jutsu, but they had to keep the Teen rating somehow...heh.

The music is good, but not as original as the show. There's very little character interaction outside the battles, but enough to give some feel of each character's style. At least through the visuals, the humor of the series made it intact to the game.


Gameplay:

Naruto fans and anyone looking for a good brawler on Gamecube will love Clash of Ninja. Especially fans of the show, of course, but it's obvious that quality wasn't sacrificed in any way just to put out something with the show's characters. Fighting is spread between seven modes, and there are eight characters out of the box that are playable. A two-player mode lets you duke it out with a friend, and customization includes handicapping for power levels, which effect damage.

In Single Player, there is a Story mode that like most fighters, is pretty forgettable. Again, Naruto: Clash of Ninja isn't even pretending to be a fighter hybrid. If anything, it's one of the more straightforward brawlers you'll play. After some training, you can play against the CPU through a series of rounds, or go into a Survival mode with fight after fight in quick succession. Time Attack mode also makes you run the gauntlet, defeating all eight characters in the best time possible. Not all the characters are available to begin with, so winning battles is key to opening up the game's secrets. And there are a few secrets.


Difficulty:

At the easiest difficulty level, it's possible to breeze through Naruto: Clash of Ninja in a single sitting, the first time. Anyone who has played a fighting game can pick this up and immediately get to work. There are combinations of A.I. fighting styles here that do require some strategy, but not as much unless you dial up the difficulty. At the lower difficulty levels, Naruto: Clash of Ninja should be accessible to players of almost any ability. At the higher levels, learning your character's combo moves and understanding the attack strategy of your opponent is key. This is a good game to grow into, especially if you love Naruto, but don't think of yourself as a fighting game guru.

Game Mechanics:

One of the great things about the Gamecube controller is that it just seems studded with buttons. Compared to the others, there are a lot of ways to get your button-mashing game on. The shoulder buttons control a side-step that really adds to the game's sense of open space. Side stepping also makes for some good escapes, as there are plenty of projectile weapons in Clash of Ninja. Jumping and double jumping is controlled with the analog stick, as are guards. Ninjutsu and Taijutsu attacks are each given a button, to distinguish between hand-to-hand combat and combat with weapons. Throws and special moves are mapped to the X and Y buttons.

The chakra element is like a combo gauge, and almost anything will add to the gauge, which is depleted when you trigger special attacks. Some of the more excellent moves include the Sexy Jutsu, which is really more of a taunt. Also, the Substitution Jutsu, which comes up so much as a story element in the manga and anime, is here. Being able to conjure a log to distract your opponent while you sneak up behind him for a pummeling is cool. Combo attacks are triggered by button combinations, but I didn't like how dependent Clash of Ninja was on combinations of buttons, rather than use of the analog stick with the buttons. It's harder to remember five combos that are all a combination of A and B keys, rather than different patterns on several keys. Triggering advanced combos is not so hard, but you'll also find that none of the combos are really needed to defeat enemies until the difficulty's dialed up.

There's not a lot of depth in Naruto: Clash of Ninja, but any fan will have a blast. There's nothing throwaway about this fighter, but I wish it weren't so easy. Out of the box, especially through the one-player modes, the challenge just wasn't there. Playing with someone else, if that's what you plan to do, is a blast. The controls are tight and the look of the game is top-notch; highly recommended to fighting fans and devotees of the show. Believe it!


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Windows RF Online Nintendo GameBoy Advance Naruto: Ninja Council

 
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