NARUTO: Uzumaki Chronicles 2 - PS2 - Preview
I love pre-Thanksgiving gaming. Yeah, it might be a little early to start thinking about the day we gather around, give thanks, and enjoy a massive feast. But there’s nothing like a brawler with all the trimmings: cole-slaughter, cran-bruises, mashed buttons… Delish!
Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2 is such a brawler. A beat-‘em-up with a drumstick combo that’ll make mouths water – and make fearful foes run away like a bunch of scared turkeys.
This Ain’t No Ms. Piggy
Forget the Muppets – Uzumaki Chronicles 2 employs good old-fashioned puppet masters. It seems a clan, the Shirogane (pronounced SHIR-OH-GAH-NAY), is in search of a Spirit Orb from the Land of Fire. When an abrupt encounter fails to yield any results, the Shirogane retreat, leaving an angered Naruto to grumble in their absence. He wasn’t prepared to take them down just yet, but you’ll never get the ultimate ninja to admit to that.
Naruto is joined by characters like Neji, Shikamaru, Kakashi, Rock Lee, Guy, Sakura, Kankuro, Gaara, and Choji, plus three unknown characters that must be unlocked. Almost all of them are locked actually, but you’ll uncover them quickly just by playing through the single-player missions. Two allies will be at Naruto’s side at any given time, and you may switch between the three characters as often as desired. In addition to being a fun way to add diversity to the game’s combo-heavy combat, character switching also provides increased flexibility in defeating the enemy.
Boss battles may enter the fray with multiple life meters – Naruto gets just one. But since you can switch to another character at any time, he doesn’t have to go at it alone. This is also helpful in conserving Chakra, which is quickly depleted when unleashing special moves. Contrary to popular belief, ninja clones don’t come cheap.
Yeah, just what exactly are you trying to say, huh? Are you listening to me!? Hey, give me that iPod!
Carving the Enemy
Naruto and his gang will tear into their adversaries with a number of multi-hit combos that are executed using the square and triangle buttons. The circle button is reserved for projectiles (like throwing blades) that can be tossed for a quick hit. Press X while standing still for a teleportation jump; press and hold X for a traditional jump; and press X while moving for a rushing jump. Each jump can be mixed with the square button for a combo.
When seven or eight bandits (who are said to have been hired by the Shirogane) attack simultaneously, a jump-combo mix is one of many options to help you through. Rely too much on Chakra-based moves and the game will start to feel like those old arcade brawlers where your survival depended on the number of quarters in your pocket. Uzumaki Chronicles 2, however, doesn’t have a slot for change insertion. Three lives (one for each character) are all you get. Save files prevent any data from being lost, but you’ll have to re-start the current battle if you die.
No Time For Napping
While Uncle Bob might follow Thanksgiving dinner with a snooze on the couch, claiming that tryptophan was the cause, Uzumaki Chronicles 2 doesn’t give anyone the chance to grab a pillow. The world map is set up like that of a classic adventure game but with one difference: nearly every move leads to a battle, and at every mission-specific location an even bigger battle awaits. In general, the theme is to visit Hokage’s room, view the new story details, fight your way to the objective, complete the objective (by winning more battles), and go back to Hokage for another debrief.
Naruto fans will enjoy the cut scenes, which are conducted in real-time and are voiced with about the same quality as the show and feature a plot that differs from the anime. This is unique for the series and for anime games in general, which often try to rehash an existing plot. That can be effective, but it can also blow up in a game’s face. If we already know what’s coming, where’s the excitement? The surprises? The thrill of continuing? Uzumaki Chronicles 2 brings back the thrill and should be an interesting journey whether you’ve seen every episode and played every game or have only just recently become a fan.
Ready to beat the stuffing out of your enemies? You won’t have to wait until November – Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2 is due in early September. We’ll be bringing you more on the game in the coming weeks, so stay with us.