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Naruto Powerful Shippuden

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Developer: Inti Creates
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Fighting/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

I donít watch Naruto, nor do I care much for fighting games. That said, I was surprised with how much I enjoyed Naruto Powerful Shippuden.

The fun begins with presentation. Naruto Powerful Shippuden doesnít take itself seriously at all. Characters are self-aware and constantly poke fun at the fact they are in a game. This may turn away "serious" Naruto fans, but as an outsider, I enjoyed it. The overall mood is conveyed wonderfully with the visuals. The chibi style characters are well animated and showcase some truly over-the-top reactions. That, alongside the bright color palette, is perfectly suited for both the platform and gameplay.

I also liked the 3D implementation. I spent more time with the effect turned off, though I like the way developers have leveraged the 3D with sprite-based games on the system.

Naruto Powerful Shippuden sticks with the Japanese language tracks, though outside a few in-game phrases, there isnít much spoken audio. Background music fits the overall tone of the game -- bright and upbeat.


Gameplay:

Naruto Powerful Shippuden is a great brawler. There are one-on-one fighting aspects, though most of your time is spent tackling missions with a variety of goals. Most involve defeating a set number of enemies, though each mission tacks on some sort of outside parameter to give the brawls a different flavor. Unfortunately, this usually just translates to timed challenges, so there isnít that much variety to mission types, but it works for the short 2 Ė 4 minutes bursts of play, for which the game seems designed.

Every few missions, youíll face a character from the show in a one-on-one fight. Here, the game starts to resemble a traditional fighting game, though movesets and the general pacing of gameplay favors faster fights rather than drawn-out strategic matches. Though not entirely similar, matches had a slight Smash Brothers feel.

Gameplay is split between two characters, Naruto and Rock Lee. Each has their own storyline, though this has very little impact on missions beyond determining opponents for the one-on-one fights. Iím not completely up on my Naruto mythos, but as far as I can tell, Narutoís plotline loosely follows the "Shippuden" story arc. Youíll battle a number of characters from that part of the show while others show up as "Support" characters.

Rock Leeís story is outright bizarre and spins its own tale involving Rock Leeís mentor and his team of friends. Set free from any particular storyline, mission storylines are out there and really play up the gameís style of humor. Itís something that wonít appeal to everyone, but I can see it appealing to an audience that isnít me. Truthfully, I ended up skipping through most of the text. It isnít terrible, but thereís more of it than I cared to read and about halfway through the game, it ended up being noise surrounding the next mission.


Difficulty:

Naruto Powerful Shippuden offers a lot of choice when determining how tough an experience youíll encounter. All missions feature a baseline difficulty level, though before missions, you can choose to add an addition parameter, presenting you with another obstacle to overcome. There are five settings you can change per mission. Some involve completing a mission within a specified time, while others ask you to not take damage and to only use certain moves. The higher difficulties can add significant challenge and are worth attempting. You arenít penalized if you fail and success comes with a modifier to the amount of XP earned for completion.

Even without the additional parameters, Naruto Powerful Shippuden offers some tough situations. Unfortunately, a few are due to a lack of communication or poor design. Timed missions never tell you how to earn more time on the clock, creating a frustrating situation where you simply canít win until you stumble upon the time extenders.

I also ran into situations where enemies would block, but without the appropriate animation, sometimes resulting in wasted attacks. This is okay with normal attacks, but special attacks drain chakra. With no chakra, youíre immobilized and take double damage, setting up unintentionally tough situations.


Game Mechanics:

You can play through either storyline at any time, though you may need to switch between the two in order to progress in the other. Missions typically unlock after completing the previous one, though some require a key, which you can find in the other area. Fans will have their favorite, though playing through both campaigns gives you a look at how differently each character handles.

Both characters share similarly activated movesets, though the product of each button combination is completely different. Narutoís moves are built around ninjutsu techniques. Heís capable in a close-up fight, but better at distances or when unleashing powerful attacks. Rock Lee is a better straight-up brawler. He has a few special techniques at his disposal, though his normal attacks are usually all you need.

Character abilities are further expanded with a few light RPG elements. XP earned in missions is used to level up character stats or purchase new moves. Upgrading quickly sucks away XP, making the difficulty wagering system that much more important. Youíre also joined by up to three "Support" characters, who are good for a quick additional hit.

Combat is better suited for the one-on-one battles. Thereís more opportunity to use everything at your disposal and use some strategy. Brawler levels are interesting, though you end up fighting the same ninjas, wolves, and birds in every mission. It is not entirely unexpected considering similar games, but is still dull.

Naruto Powerful Shippuden is worth a look, especially for fans. The humor and art style may not appeal to all of the fanbase, but considering I enjoyed it without an affinity for the property or genre, the game must be doing something right.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Related Links:



Nintendo 3DS Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate Microsoft Xbox 360 Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3

 
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