Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 PlayStation 2
Published by: Namco Bandai
Developed by: Cyber Connect 2
Release Date: Out Now
Naruto fans are certainly being spoilt in the run up to Christmas with different Naruto games arriving on various platforms. Here we have Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 for the PlayStation 2 and it’s a game that Naruto fans are sure to love. In fact the hardcore Naruto fans probably went straight out and bought the game on release. However, is Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 a game that will appeal to those who aren’t already versed in all things Naruto?
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 offers an Ultimate Road mode, VS. Duel, Iruka’s Training, Naruto’s House and Tanzaku Market choices from the main menu. Ultimate Road is the core of the game and plays out as a full Naruto adventure that covers the important parts of the anime where you’ll play as various characters. VS. Duel allows you to fight against a friend or AI opponent. Iruka’s Training allows you to practice against an AI opponent. Tanzaku Market allows you to purchase items with the Ryo (the game’s currency) and you can view the items you’ve purchased in Naruto’s House.
The combat model in Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 will seem a little strange to anyone who hasn’t play a Naruto game before. The fights take place from a side-on perspective so even though the game is in 3D; you don’t have to worry about having to babysit the camera. The battles take place in multi-layered environments which certainly makes things interesting. Those looking for a deep combat fighting system might be a little disappointed with Ultimate Ninja 2 as the fights are pretty simplistic affairs. You can perform simple attacks, jumps, guard and use any items you acquire. Most important of all are the chakra fuelled Secret Technique attacks. Once you have enough chakra stored you can unleash a Secret Technique attack which, if performed correctly, can deal damage aplenty to your opponent. You’ll have to perform a variety of button presses and analogue stick movements to pull off the Secret Techniques but they are certainly worth the effort. The Secret Technique attacks do break up the pace of the battle. You could also argue that they unbalance the battles somewhat too.
Some aspects of Ultimate Ninja 2 are a little annoying. Most of the time, the battles in Ultimate Road aren’t simply a case of defeating your opponent as you’ll have to meet set conditions. Failure to meet a single condition means you’ll have to do the fight over again, which can really be a pain. Probably more annoying is that the storyline in Ultimate Road will seem vague to those who aren’t au fait with the Naruto storyline. There are occasions in the Ultimate Road mode when you’ll run into an opponent who is much more difficult to beat than those you have fought previously and this does lead to some maddening moments of frustration.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 is a fine looking game and shows that the PlayStation 2 is far from on the way out. Naturally the developers have gone for colourful, comic book style visuals and they look great. The Secret Technique attacks play out like a cutscene and they look great the first time you see them but by the time you’re a few hours into the game you’ll be tired of seeing the same sequences over and over again.
The game is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to support for deaf gamers. The Ultimate Road mode is subtitled and you’ll be able to follow the games storyline. The game’s cutscenes use simple subtitles displayed in white text with no character names or portraits placed alongside the text. In-game conversations are shown in dialogue boxes and the important characters have their portraits placed alongside the dialogue. These conversations can be read at your own pace as you’ll need to press the X button to move them forward. Comments made during the battles and during the Secret Technique attacks are not subtitled. You are made aware of recovering chakra during a battle however as a speech bubble with the words ‘Chakra Recovery’ appears. Whilst browsing the menus there is also some speech (mostly telling you what each option on the menu means) and this speech isn’t subtitled. The game can be played without any major problems however.
In answer to our question at the beginning of the review (about if Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 will appeal to those who are not familiar with everything Naruto) the answer is probably no. That’s not to say you couldn’t pick the game up and enjoy it but the storyline in the Ultimate Road mode just isn’t fleshed out enough for non-Naruto fans to be fully aware of what’s going on. Those looking for a fighting game might also be put off by the combat peculiarities in Ultimate Ninja 2. Of course the game has been targeted at Naruto enthusiasts and in all fairness it’s a game that Naruto fans will really enjoy.