NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja 2 - PS2 - Preview
It’s not often that the fighting genre receives a strong, new player to compete with pro athletes like Tekken and Mortal Kombat. A few have come and gone, but there are times when it seems like the biggest fighting game news revolves around another old title coming to Xbox Live Arcade.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja was a rarity in that it wasn’t a sequel, it wasn’t a port, and it wasn’t a clone of an existing game. Combining multi-plane arenas with run-up-and-pummel gameplay, Ultimate Ninja was a refreshing fighter in a genre that has recently lost some of its thirst-quenching power.
The sequel to last year’s hit – Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 – appears to have taken notes from other fighting game sequels with two significant updates: (1) The gameplay is slightly faster and offers additional attacks, and (2) the first game’s mission mode has been converted to a deeper and lengthier expedition.
Ultimate Ninja 1.5
Fans of the first Ultimate Ninja will be amused – though not necessarily surprised – by the sequel’s gameplay mechanics. Character movement is distinctly faster. Foot-sweeps are more consistent with the genre’s legacy, allowing players to kick and sweep for a potent double hit (just as you would in Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter). The front and rear plane transition is still quick, and the DBZ-style teleportation move is just as fun to perform as it was in the last game.
Ultimate Ninja 2 opens with three main modes: VS Duel, training, and Ultimate Road, which is the single-player quest. VS Duel is not that different from the battle mode of the first game, starting battles with a comic book-style collection of framed images. Not only are these images brightly colored, but they are also animated, giving the player a greater sense that this series comes from the world of manga and anime.
Ultimate Road’s presentation and exploration elements differ from story modes you may have experienced in other fighting games. All dialogue appears to be fully voiced, which is sure to please every Naruto fan looking to relive the anime’s storylines. And as it turns out, that’s exactly what they’ll get the chance to do. The game begins with the Chunin Exam, a trial where “friendly” battles are fought within a safe environment. You’ll face off at an arena whose multi-plane location has an underground tunnel. It’s a great place to run to when attacks need to be evaded, as your opponent can only reach you if he or she comes down the hole. When that happens, launch a projectile assault and follow up with a combo.
Players can explore the town in between battles to buy items and search for mini-games. They’ll also get the chance to visit several NPCs (non-playable characters). Conversations may be informative, advance the story, lead to a mini-game, or be so lame you couldn’t force a laugh if you tried. In other words, it’s what you’d expect from Naruto if the developers decided to make an RPG. But the gameplay is true to the Ultimate Ninja heritage, delivering fast-paced battles in a role-playing environment.
The in-battle button and analog stick trials – where you have to push buttons or move the analog stick quickly to cause enemy or decrease personal damage – are back. But there are also mini-games to compete in outside of combat, such as the square and circle button-pounding handstand race. Alternate between the two buttons to make your character run as fast as possible. Stop for beast crossings (the beast will run over anyone or anything that stands in its way), and then resume your pounding.
There are also mini-games in the style of Simon Says, asking players to memorize two- to-six button commands. The commands may include the four face buttons as well as the directional buttons. For those of you who dislike memory games, I discovered an easy solution: grab a notepad and write down the command listings. The commands aren’t given very fast, so unless the game has some drastic changes between now and its release next week, you can count on having enough time write things out.
Striking retailers June 12, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 is on course to fulfill the needs of those who couldn’t wait for a sequel. Stay tuned to GameZone as we bring you further coverage of the game in the coming weeks.