Naruto: Clash of the Ninja Revolution 2 review
Based on the highly popular anime, this fourth Clash of the Ninja installment - the second for the Wii - brings back high-octane fighting and mesmerizing special attacks. Though, returning players might end up spending more time trying to figure out how this is any different from previous releases.
The hit anime series Naruto has spawned a multitude of games with multiple styles. Clash of the Ninja Revolutions 2, the latest, comes just one year after the young, orange-clad fighter first came on to the Wii scene. The first two Clash of the Ninja installments came out on Gamecube, and introduced the 3-D environment to the Naruto world. A great improvement from the previous series, Ultimate Ninja, these latest versions have ramped up the intensity of the fighting action by granting perspective to the jaw-dropping moves a skilled ninja can conjure.
While the game is primarily a combat fighter, a unique storyline has been dreamed up to give an extra option to the solo player. The tale is weaved outside of the television and manga reality, but maintains some fairly believable progression despite some obvious leaps in logic. The fights in this mode offer significant variety from normal gameplay, but it's not so far from the norm as to blow one's mind.
Like most fighting games, the story is basically filler to get you from one fight to the next. Like the leftover pieces in the variety chocolate box, this one isn't that great to bite in to. The cut scenes leave something to be desired from those who have seen the television series, and the rest is slow-moving text and static images that move like hand puppets.
The very first thing players will notice is that the Wii remote and this game do not get along very well. It's actually wise not to have them both in one room at the same time. Relying on motion controls make for an extremely clunky experience and various idiosyncrasies result.
Once you've moved on to a more reasonable control method, a highly entertaining tournament fighter begins to take shape. Special moves are the bread and butter of these types of games, and the Naruto story allows for an extra wrinkle in that idea: the chakra meter. Used for both massive, cut scene-included special attacks and lifesaving relocation moves, the chakra meter not only gives you additional options, but it forces a choice between fight or flight.
What prevents a top rating for this very involved fighter is the fact that people who have played previous versions of the series have already played this one. True, it's fun to play, yet very little has been added to the player's overall experience and one thing has been suspiciously omitted: online play.
Featuring a hearty list of possible competitors, there are plenty of options for players. What really makes it all work is the four player battle royale mode. Where the two player option is much more familiar to fighting game veterans, more really is merrier. The addition ratchets up the excitement factor drastically and puts a different perspective on the importance of using your blocks.
New characters have been added to the game, including the visually stunning Nine-Tails Naruto and Second-State Sasuke Uchiha. Some of them are only new to the U.S. versions of the game, but most are entirely new to the series. With new characters come new moves, but there still aren't enough to require anyone to develop new game strategies.
Although the individual aspects of the game add up well, it's very difficult to get past the fact that this is the fourth game in a series that hasn't evolved very much since its first installment. As a television show and manga series, what captures the imagination is how Naruto's characters and their situation progresses over time. This crucial element is almost entirely absent from Clash of the Ninja Revolutions 2. This is the game to get if you've never tried any of the series before, but it's a needless addition for anyone else.