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!