Naruto Ultimate Ninja

Naruto Ultimate Ninja
Naruto began as a manga series which then became anime - and now it's a Playstation 2 fighting game. The graphics are quite impressive!

As with most fighting games, you begin with only a few characters and unlock more as you go. It unlocks items pretty quickly as you go - but unfortunately there aren't that many total characters for you to work with. There are 12 characters plus 2 modified characters (different forms of existing characters). Each person has his or her own support character.

I was really quite impressed by the graphics. It's not that they are photo-realistic - it's more like you are playing in a well drawn, artistic, smooth anime world. The shadows in the dusky treehouse area, the harsh brightness of the industrial area, each location has an integrated appearance. You can switch back and forth between some locations on command. The water has small ripples, the background items are often destructable.

When you perform actions, you get little "Japanese motion symbols" just as you would see in a manga. The cloud motion, light flares, shading are all done with a drawing style. It is really impressive to compare this with early fighting games to see just how far we've come from 'blocks of pixels moving' to a visual experience.

Unfortunately, the sound is just not up to the same quality level. The background noises get INCREDIBLY repetitive after only a few minutes. You're almost tempted to turn down (or off) the sound and play with your own music playing. Not only do the phrases get said thousands of times in a row - but some of the Japanese words are clearly mispronounced.

The fighting action is rather fun - surely by now fighting games have perfected the interactivity part of the game. You get a number of styles, and in addition to the quick-memorized button mashing portion, there is a high powered attack that involves both characters doing a quick combination of keys to perform the higher powered action.

The unlocking portion of the game is both fun and extremely tedious. It's fun because you can unlock hundreds of items - every single sound clip, every single video clip, etc. etc. If there's something you want to review, you can get it into your library. On the other hand, you would have to play for months to get enough points to unlock them all, and it's a random chance of what you get to see for a given unlocking.

Still, that's a minor complaint. All of those unlocked libraries are just extra, anyway. The main part of the game - the fighting - is quite fun and if you're a Naruto fan, there's not much more you could hope for from this. Enjoy!

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