Naruto: Ninja Council
takes the path of least resistance when it comes to design. Rather than develop a game based around the Naruto license, it instead takes the same side-scrolling beat ‘em up we’ve all played and plugs in characters and locations from the show. Familiarity with the show’s plot or characters really isn’t necessary since the game really doesn’t stick to much of one anyway, though fans will more than likely be able to piece together some sort of narrative based on their knowledge.
The game is split up into seven worlds, each with filled with a same cast of enemies and power-ups. Paths are linear, though some side paths are hidden; however, most of these lead to power-ups and leaf symbols, both of which have little effect on how the game plays out. In fact, the collection of leaf symbols turned out to be one of the bigger collect-a-thon disappointments I’ve come across. Rather than unlocking something worthwhile, collecting all 100 leaf symbols nets you a sound test. Considering the quality of the sound, this isn’t much of a reward.
As you progress through levels, you’ll run into characters from the show, though their presence really has no point. Most are hidden and just waiting to heal you or give you an extra life. You’ll also run across rival students who show up as boss fights.