Although the Clash of Ninja series of Naruto fighters on Nintendo consoles was initially praised as the quintessential Naruto fighter, it seems like it has been growing stale over the years. Despite the fact that there have been only four stateside releases, the series has had a long and illustrious history in Japan, with more than seven current iterations (that largely differ from the American releases). Last year’s Clash of Ninja Revolution was pretty good considering it was the series’ first steps onto the new console, but many (including myself) were disappointed that despite the change in console, the Clash of Ninja format largely remained unchanged. Unfortunately, the old Clash of Ninja conventions are still present in this year’s iteration, and it looks to provide more of the same Naruto action that we’ve been playing through for years.
The story mode this time around is paper-thin and revolves around an ANBU member who was super-strong that went rogue a few years prior. Conveniently, everyone forgot about this character until people started using Genjutsu against their friends. Then our heroes discover the problem, and you’ll have to fight various foes to get to the bottom of this situation.
One big issue that fans may immediately have with this title is the introduction of superfluous or non-existent anime characters into the game roster. There are four completely new characters that you can unlock in the game, in addition to series-based Yugao Uzuki, who was a character present in the anime for a single episode. This may seem especially egregious to longtime fans of the series because these extraneous characters are exclusive to the English-only Clash of Ninja Revolution series and have absolutely nothing to do with the original Japanese versions of the game or the series at-large. However, I understand this is more of a fan-related complaint more than anything, but considering the game’s base, this potential gripe bears mentioning.
However, if you are not picky about who your new characters are or how they fit into the larger “Naruto-verse,” then there is plenty in the roster to love. There are a total of about 35 characters in the game, and they all have unique fighting styles that are easy to pick up. All your favorites are here, including series mainstays like Sasuke, Orocimaru, Rock Lee, and Kakashi. Original series characters joining the fight not in the first Revolution include Kiba and Kurenai.
The battle system in Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 is largely the same as it’s predecessors and features a heavy/light attack system with special chakra attacks you can power-up after a certain number of hits. Although most of the attacks are the same as last year, there are some new animations, and a few of the characters do get some new attacks altogether. But if you are hoping to see Shikamaru to do anything besides the same shadow possession head bump move that he’s been doing since the Chunin exam, then you might be a little disappointed in the attack roster this time around.
But one thing that the Clash of Ninja franchise has always done well is nail the battle control, and Revolution 2 is no exception. Much like last year’s title, this one supports multiple inputs, including the Wii-mote on its side, the Wii-mote and Nunchuk combination, and the classic controller. The classic controller feels the most natural, with different attacks as well as grappling moves tied to the face buttons. However, the Wii-mote and Nunchuk controls also work surprisingly well.
Since the weak attack is tied to a swift wave of the Wii-mote, and the strong attack is tied to the A button, combo moves are very easy to execute with this control scheme. Another benefit of using the Wii-mote and Nunchuk combo is that you can perform interactive motion-based specials. For instance, when executing Gaara’s Sand Coffin attack, you are able to control the attack by lifting the Wii-mote at the start of the move and then bringing it down to slam your opponent.
But as good as the controls in this title are, I really can’t say as much for the graphics. The look of the game is nearly identical to last year, and it still largely resembles its last-gen predecessors. There are a lot of seaming and blurring issues that you’ll see, especially across some of the larger stages. While this may have been permissible for last year’s iteration, the old GameCube look is starting to wear thin, especially when third-party titles like Guitar Hero: World Tour and de Blob show us that the Wii can produce some nice-looking graphics.
One facet of Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 that has taken quite a tumble since last year’s iteration is the voice acting. While last year’s voice acting was superb, this year, all the characters sound bored, and there are many recycled lines that are over-used. The background music, however, still remains nicely sampled from the anime, so at least this title isn’t terrible to listen to.
Although Clash of Ninja Revolution is certainly a playable game, its main fault lies in the fact that it hasn’t really changed since last year’s iteration or even since its GameCube days. Sure, there are some added characters this time around, but the gameplay, graphics, and format all feel the same as they always have, which is a real disappointment for the Naruto faithful who run out to grab this title every year. I would really love to see the Clash of Ninja franchise branch out the way the Ultimate Ninja series has in recent years, but so far, it looks like fans will just have to be content with this title being “just another” Clash of Ninja.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.5 Graphics
Visuals are just not up to par with the best Wii titles and have seaming and blurring issues. 4.0 Control
Different control schemes offer a nice amount of variety, and the motion control option works well. 3.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Anime-sampled level music is pretty good, but English voiceover is hit or miss. 3.0
There is not much new ground covered here, and after playing through the lackluster story mode and unlocking all the different characters, you might find yourself a little bored.
3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.