|Pub: NAMCO Bandai|
|Release: October 18, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Cartoon Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes|
This is a real shame, as fighters have gotten to be quite beefy on handheld consoles. Series like Super Street Fighter and BlazBlue have offered hungry gamers plenty of content after an initial single-player playthrough. Ultimate Ninja Impact unfortunately does not follow suit, and feels outdated and underwhelming as a result. When you can completely finish a fighter in only a few hours and have nothing left to do, you've got a serious problem.
About the only real thing Ultimate Ninja Impact has going for it are some great production values. CyberConnect2 has outdone themselves once again with the game's visuals, giving Naruto and company their signature highly-detailed cel-shaded look. Although environments and battle stages aren't as beautiful as they could be, and story scenes feature stoic character models, the 3D character design used in battle gets major points for re-creating the look of the Naruto anime almost completely. This is certainly one of the best-looking Naruto games on the PSP, and the visual style is the one area where you can tell that some hard work went into the development process.
Sound in the game is also extremely well-done, with all the anime's original voice actors reprising their roles. Though only the English voiceover is available for play, most fans of the American version of the show will still be happy with the fidelity to the series. Background music is also sampled directly from the Shippuden anime series, which works very well in-game. About the only thing I can really complain about with the sound is that some of the catchphrases that characters use over and over can become grating after a while. However, this comes with the territory, I think, as the Naruto anime has the same repetitive ear-numbing catchphrases. I can't hold this against the game version too much.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact is a game that would have been great about five or six years ago. However, as the years roll on and we get more and more Naruto games, there becomes an increasing need for games to stand out within the franchise. Ultimate Ninja Impact just doesn't do a whole lot to give it its own identity. While the battle system works well and the technical specs are spot-on, there just isn't enough content to justify a purchase. And with the PSP on its last legs in lieu of the PlayStation Vita, Naruto fans would be wise to just skip this entry and wait for a better handheld to come along. This one just doesn't have enough going for it to be legitimately called an "Ultimate Ninja." Maybe next time, Naruto fans.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer