NARUTO: Ninja Council 2 - GBA - Review
I never got an opportunity to play the first Naruto Ninja Council, I wanted to, it looked like it could have been fun, but as a reviewer sometimes we get the things we ask for, sometimes we don't, it's all good though. The reason I bring it up, is because while reviewing/playing through part two, I was surprised by a couple of things, (more on this two paragraphs down) and was curious if the same style of gameplay was in the first, but let me explain what's going on in the game first, then we'll talk shop.
Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke have graduated from the Ninja academy, now it is time for them to take their Chunin exams (think of it like how lawyers must pass the bar when they graduate law school). The exams consist of several parts both written and action oriented, thankfully the written ones are bypassed by the storyline and we cut directly to the action. The three students and their Sensei Kakashi have been tasked with delivering an important scroll to the top of the mountain (where I presume someone is) as their exams are prepared and executed upon them (apparently the final tasks to becoming a ninja involve risking your life repeatedly and beating people up) the notorious Orochimaru arrives and steals the scroll, thus putting the three's chances of passing their exams in the "not likely" category. So off they go, to recover the scroll and pass the exams.
"Open mouth, insert foot."
Naruto Ninja Council 2 actually surprised me, I got the game and for some reason assumed that it was going to be a straight up 2D fighter. I was wrong, rather the game has you running around as one of the three students as you try and complete your exams. Some exams involve you defeating a really tough opponent or running through a stage in under a set amount of time, while others have you exercising your teleporting skills as you navigate a level filled with both bad guys and traps. All while primary characters from the show pop up and challenge you to a classic 2D battle.
Now you should know that you can switch on the fly to any of the three characters you control, if Naruto has taken a bad beating and his life bar is depleted, the game will automatically switch for you, otherwise if you notice your life bar is low, you can simply pull the left trigger and you will get a fresh teammate. The only way to truly be defeated is if all members of your party are defeated in a single stage, everyone get all their health back when you complete an exam. Of course, sometimes you will enter a stage that does not allow you to switch characters, so it will be in your best interest to get familiar with all three characters and their fighting moves.
"It's not a dress, it's a distraction!"
The fighting in the game was incredibly fast for what I was expecting it to be, the game does a good job of telling you how to do the special moves, but even so, I was unprepared with how crazy the action was. For example, whenever there is a major fight (2D style fighter) I constantly found myself using the teleport (a staple in most action cartoons) while executing combat moves, if you don't, you simply won't survive. The enemies all do so, and if you don't then you can expect people popping up behind you and kicking you in the back, only to teleport away again. Now when I say teleport, it means the character disappears for a second and appears either high up in the air, so you can fall down onto an opponent, or appear right next to them so you can quickly attack. It's not as difficult as it sounds since the game does a pretty good job of automatically placing you in a position to dole out some damage. It works well for this style of game and fortunately the special moves you use when battling a boss are still available when you are running through a level ala' platformer style gaming.
The music in the game does a good job of keeping you pumped up with it's rhythmic beats and up-tempo, I would have liked to have heard some of the voice actors from the show but instead you have got to read everything to move the story forward. There is noises when engaged in combat, special effect rather, when a special move is launched you can here the sound revving up, complete with a teeth cracking crunch, not too bad.
"Doing what he does best."
Being that it is from an incredibly popular anime show on Cartoon Network (providers of much entertainment to kids of all ages) the cutscenes, or rather pictures that pop up are direct ports from the show, you see peoples faces all bruised and bandaged. The classic anime giant mouth when someone is upset and yelling, yeah, for a GBA game, this style of visual storytelling really helps. Now the in-game graphics are all side scrolling 2D (same with the fights) and I was actually reminded of the classic 80's arcade game Ghouls and Ghosts, the little pixilated characters, the baddies that come towards you, it was all great fun back then. But now the graphics are actually fairly decent and there's no slowdown when several bad guys are on the screen.
Review Scoring Details for NARUTO: Ninja Council 2
You run, you jump, you fight, you teleport. I was both surprised and impressed at what this title has you doing.
For a GBA game it does quite well, the backgrounds could use some more variation, but the action comes lightning quick, the teleporting leaves this little wisp of air behind and the game's cut scene format is nice and crisp.
I wish it had the voice work from the TV show, but that may be asking too much from a GBA title. Still, the game has a steady audio track and decent sound effects.
Those boss fights can be a real booger sometimes, thankfully you usually have all three characters worth of life to defeat them. Getting "A"'s on all your exams is really difficult, passing the exams isn't.
This isn't high art were playing here folks, but it is a solid platformer/fighting/adventure game.
I was surprised at how much I liked this title, clearly I went in expecting one thing and got that and so much more. Naruto fans will really enjoy this game and fortunately the way the game was developed, the rest of us will too.