|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tose||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3 Publisher / Tomy||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
June 21, 2007 - The Naruto RPG series is one of the biggest selling franchises in Japan and has spawned three different games on the Nintendo DS. The second one, Naruto RPG 2 Rasengan vs. Chidori, is being ported over to the US as Naruto: Path of Ninja, and will hit stores sometime this fall.
The biggest boon for this game is that it will be something completely new. The Naruto franchise has been extremely conducive to complex fighting games like Clash of Ninja and adventure-based gameplay like in The Uzumaki Chronicles. But Naruto: Path of Ninja will delve deeply into the Naruto storyline and offer both Naruto fans and RPG fans a fantastic and character driven experience. You'll be able to pick from six playable characters to begin with, and then you'll be able to form a primary party with two other characters, and a secondary party with up to three other characters. And all your favorites will be here from Sasuke to Ino to Kiba, and of course your main man Naruto.
The gameplay will be mainly conducted through the DS's touch screen and will involve strategically placing characters on a 4x3 grid and then executing attacks and special moves from there. Of course, your opponents will be mobile as well, so you'll have to keep up with the enemy and stay close enough to cause damage and far away enough to avoid damage. The action, in true RPG style, will be controlled by a turn based system that will enable you to move and perform actions in a singular and strategic style. So it would behoove you to think before you act. You could say it's really about brains instead of brawn this time, which may be a welcome change among Naruto fans looking for a deeper gaming experience.
And of course, like most RPGs the story won't be exactly linear. Sure you'll have your goal in sight, but extra missions will be available, and you'll have a whole host of extraneous characters and villagers to talk to. I only mention this because it shows that there's definitely a good amount of depth to this game, which has been somewhat lacking in several of the Naruto games (particularly the handhelds) thus far. And once you go through the game once, you'll have a good amount of unlockables available to you, including new characters, music, and different sounds from the game.
Graphically, some early screens show this one to deliver some pretty standard DS graphics. Characters are represented as sprites, and the environment is decidedly 2-D. They're nothing really earth-shattering, but hopefully the unique gameplay will assuage any complaints about the potentially sub-par graphics. And of course, one must remember that this game came out in Japan more than two years ago, when the DS was barely even coming into its own as a legitimate handheld.
Not too much is known about what's going into the sound content and whether any of the voice actors will be used in the game. However one thing that is known is that much of the background music will be directly ported over from the anime. And since the anime features some really kickin' tunes, this is definitely a good thing for game audiophiles.
So all in all, I think Naruto Path of Ninja is going to be a really good game. Not only does it take the Naruto franchise in a whole new direction, but it does so in a smart way, by introducing an ultra accessible, yet challenging, form of game that is sure to delight fans, and at least catch the interest of others who aren't really interested in the series.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer