|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
May 24, 2007 - Naruto is definitely one of the most popular anime characters in America right now. The story of the young ninja and his friends has attracted a large following. Naruto's action heavy stories are an easy fit for gaming, and he has had a few games, but his first next-gen appearance is around the corner in Naruto: Rise of a Ninja for the Xbox 360.
Rise of A Ninja will recreate the first 80 episodes of the anime, retelling Naruto's growth and of his first encounters with some of the characters. The game is set up in an odd adventure-fighting game hybrid that has the young ninja performing tasks in part of the gameplay and battling other ninjas in a brawl. Although the two segments mesh well, they feel distinct and separate but are very well done from what I observed.
The adventure segment portion that I witnessed had Naruto running around a large village, interacting with the people. Naruto could run up to an individual and speak with them to procure different tasks, one of which was finding a missing child. Each task completed gives Naruto Chakra points, which fill a meter, and when the meter hits certain points, Naruto can learn new moves. After finding the missing child hiding on a rooftop, Naruto learned to run up certain walls from his teacher, which opened the places that he could reach in the city. However, each learned skill requires Naruto to perform Chakra Concentration to initiate the move, in which the player moves the analog stick to simulate the hand motions of the anime. After performing the correct Chakra moves, Naruto ran up the side of a tree to begin a high paced minigame of leaping through the trees, which requires quick reflexes to direct Naruto as he leaps from branch to branch.
At the end of the minigame, Naruto found himself in a battle sequence, which looked good enough to be a standalone fighting game. Naruto found himself in battle with Sasuke, and as the pair traded blows, the demo showcased a special attack. The special attacks looked spectacular, and had a first person view of one of the characters swiftly attacking the other with his finger. The player has to aim at highlighted vulnerable points and has a few seconds to increase the power of the attack. These fighting scenes looked both fun and intense, and I was assured that the game allowed two players to challenge each other as well.
Visually, the game is stunning, with a cel-shaded look that accurately recreates the imagery from the show. When Naruto ran around the village, he moved with his balled fists behind him, and he leapt and moved as fans would expect him to. The tree leaping minigame and the pressure point minigame both looked extremely exciting, and recreated a feeling of intensity and speed.
Overall, fans of the Naruto series have a lot to get excited for. This looks like it may be the best Naruto game yet, and the game definitely shows a lot of promise. With its mixture of adventuring and fighting, it looks as if it captures the feel of the anime perfectly. Look for Naruto to appear this October.
CCC Co-Site Director