reviews\ Oct 15, 2009 at 8:00 pm

NARUTO Shippuden: Legends: Akatsuki Rising - PSP - Review

Like everyone else who is a big fan of a young ninja who one day dreams of being the most respected shinobi in his home village, we have put up with a number of awful Naruto titles and cheered the few games that managed to shine as brightly as the metal piece on a Hidden Leaf Village headband. Unfortunately, Naruto Shippuden Legends: Akatsuki Rising for the PSP isn’t the amazing Naruto Shippuden game we have been waiting for but it’s still a game fans will definitely want to play.

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As the title suggests, this Naruto game follows the Shippuden chapter in the Naruto saga that no longer follows Naruto the boy but now Naruto the teenager. Having disappeared from the Leaf Village with his mentor, Lord Jiraiya, for nearly two years, Naruto finally returns home. As the other title suggests, the story also involves the new threat called the Akatsuki.

In the game’s story mode, called Scenario Mode, we follows the anime and manga’s Kazekage Retrieval story arc where the mysterious Akatsuki enters the Sand Village and manages to defeat and capture the powerful Kazekage who just happens to be Naruto’s foe-turned-friend named Gaara. Determined to save Gaara, Naruto sets out with other familiar Leaf Village ninjas that also includes Rock Lee, Neji and Tenten. As the enemy reveals itself, it becomes clear to Naruto that these guys make even the evil Orochimaru look like a kitten.

If you’re a loyal reader of the manga or love the anime, the story is loyally captured with the familiar battles that also come with the story. We find memorable moments such as the test Kakashi-sensei sets up for Sakura and Naruto down to the battle that has Naruto facing off against the Akatsuki member known as Deidara. Told in chapters, the story mode also offers some brief exploration bits that have you moving on a restricted environment and battle weak enemies that include bandits or enemy ninjas.

The more you play Scenario Mode the more other modes and characters become available. There’s Mission that allows you to freely pick ranked missions complete with various objectives. The Mission list includes taking on assignments such as helping out the owner of Naruto’s favorite eating spot, Ichiraku Ramen Shop, or chase off strange birds that are eating Lady Tsunade’s medicinal herbs. It’s actually an entertaining game mode with plenty to do and missions that get more challenging depending on the mission rankings.

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Battle Mode allows you to take any characters you might have unlocked in the course of playing Scenario mode and pit them against each another. There are dozens of characters to use for this game mode too and this also includes villains. Then there’s Survival Mode that allows you to play as Leaf Village ninja or Sand Village ninja (like Gaara and Tamari) as you battle numerous enemies in various missions you unlock the more you play this mode.

One of the most interesting game modes, however, is the Akatsuki Mode that is unlocked after finishing Scenario Mode. This mode has you assuming the role of an Akatsuki member such as Sasuke’s older brother, Itachi Uchiha, or the shark-like Kisame. This mode actually gives you a small peek into what the enemy is really like and learn what they’re really after when they attacked the Sand Village.

While all the game modes sound like this would have been the perfect Naruto Shippuden game, the awful camera and the numerous faceless enemies you fight in-between will remind you this title is not perfect. It’s a blast recreating favorite battles but why must we waste our time with weak bandits and strange opponents such as angry baboons? Sure, the controls are decent enough and there are Jutsu moves aplenty but this isn’t really enough to make the game truly soar. Still, the action isn’t entirely bad.

Visually, Akatsuki Rising is quite a disappointment. Sure, all the characters look like the characters they were meant to look like but the expressionless eyes look creepy. The cut scenes also look rather flat with the environments looking muddy and lifeless even when you’re looking at green pastures or a village. Just about the only thing that stands out beautifully are the visual effects especially where the Jutsu moves are concerned. It’s still a thrill seeing the likes of Naruto pull off multiple Shadow Clones or the new Sakura pounding her fist on the ground with tremendous force.

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At least the music is handled well and this is because the game uses music straight from the anime. It plays throughout the game, oftentimes repeating itself but you won’t mind seeing as how good the score is in the series. The voices aren’t bad either but, in my opinion, it’s the original Japanese voices that are far more effective. Thankfully, the sound effects are also good in this game.

Naruto Shippuden Legends: Akatsuki Rising for the PSP should have been a better game considering all the great game modes and gameplay features the game brings to virtual Leaf Village. Even with all its Jutsu-filled action and Chakra-based game modes, the game feels very average but it is still fun enough to show fans and non-fans alike a good time. Here’s hoping the next game will be even better. 

Review Scoring Details for Naruto Shippuden Legends: Akatsuki Rising

Gameplay: 6.5
The action doesn’t flow as smoothly as in past Naruto games but there are plenty of moves and characters to give the gameplay some variety. The story mode follows the manga’s Gaara rescue mission story arch well enough and the scenarios are good fun. The most interesting twist comes in the fact that there’s a mode that allows you to play as the Akatsuki villains.

Graphics: 6.5
The cut scenes are simply horrible with the characters possessing expressionless dead eyes. Sure, they look the way they should but the character models could have been handled a lot better and the same can be said about the environments.

Sound: 7.0
The music is lifted straight out of the Naruto Shippuden anime and that’s definitely Ok in my book. The voices aren’t bad at all and even more so if you decide to play the game with the original Japanese voices.

Difficulty: Medium
In the main story mode, you will find some tough opponents among the Akatsuki ranks such as Deidara, Sasori and Itachi. You’ll even find some challenging enemies in this game so you’ll be glad there are health items you can purchase.

Concept: 6.5
At last, the Naruto games have finally reached the Shippuden series with the older versions of the characters. The scenarios add something extra for when you’re finished with the main mode and the ability to play as Akatsuki members is a major plus for us Naruto fans. There’s multiplayer action as well.

Multiplayer: 7.0
While there’s no online multiplayer action, you can play against or with a friend via the PSP’s Ad Hoc connection. The good news is that the multiplayer runs smoothly and there are a number of characters to select.

Overall: 6.5
Akatsuki Rising for the PSP isn’t the best game in the Naruto Shippuden series but it isn’t an entirely bad game for Naruto fans news and old. While the battles with faceless bandits can get boring rather quickly, there are decent game modes and decent multiplayer fun to be had in this game if you give it a chance.


Above Average

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