Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact Review
Much like the yearly Dragon Ball Z games, Naruto seems to be popping up across consoles and handhelds with his familiar storyline of a nine tail demon fox housed inside a rambunctious young spiky haired kid and his adventures. This portable iteration takes players through the beginning of the Shippuden storyline, all the way up to the Five Kage Summit Arc, though it takes some liberties in terms of a gameplay standpoint.
Someone over at Namco Bandai must have heard my pleas to combine the gameplay styles of the Dynasty Warriors series with a Naruto game, and the result is actually quite entertaining. I can already hear the masses of people complaining that the Warriors' series are straight up button mashers, and to an extent, they are. But they're also the type the game that you can boot up, take down hundreds of enemies, and just feel like a bad ass doing it. The same applies to the Impact. The game is structured through Acts that play out on map menus. Each space is either a key plot element or a battle that lets you Rasengan a bunch of people straight in the face!
Impact borrows some elements from almost every past Naruto game, while mixing up some new ones. The crazy, over-the-top action sequences from the Storm series make a return when fighting bosses. The simple control scheme from past Naruto is back as well, with one attack button, one chakra button, and one projectile/item button. The biggest change, however, is how you progress through each level. As I previously mentioned, you will take control of your favorite Naruto character and dispose of hundreds of lifeless drones as they spawn on the map, which ultimately leads to a boss fight.
Though most of the characters control similarly, it's their special moves that set them apart. Naruto has his clone combos as well as his powerful Rasengan, Gaara takes control of the sand to punish his enemies, Kakashi has his Lightning Blade, and so on. It's amusing to test the limits of each character, as well as unleashing their ultimate attacks. Characters can be powered up via a card system, where various cards are unlocked through beating stages. These cards will raise certain stats such as more chakra, hit points, and damage. Certain cards are also part of sets that give additional bonuses when equipped together.
Naruto fans will be pleased that the entire game is voice acted, save for a few parts, with all of the respective voice actors from the show belting their lines out. From a graphical standpoint, the game doesn't look half bad either. It's not on par with the Storm series, obviously, this is the PSP after all, but some of the action elements, such as the giant boss battles, look just as stunning and action-packed as they did on the consoles. Of course, know that you'll be facing off against hundreds of "clone" enemies that tend to stand around more than they actually fight, but that's just something that comes with the territory. It doesn't deter from the overall enjoyment.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact is a fun romp through the Shippuden storyline mixed in with some Warriors'-style gameplay. It's not the deepest game when it comes to gameplay mechanics, and a lot of it will stem out of button mashing. For those wary of the orange and black jumpsuit-wearing ninja, this might not be the best game to ease you in, but for Naruto fans this is a no brainer.