Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4 Review for Nintendo DS

Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4 Review for Nintendo DS

A Council Best Left Unattended

As a huge Naruto fan, I always go into a Naruto-branded video game with a certain level of optimism. Even if early reports say it is of poor quality or not as good as it could have been, I always try and look for the good points, even if the overall game is disappointing. However, as I dove into Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4, I have to say I went in with a little trepidation.

Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4 screenshot

Although I enjoyed the first one for what it was, its linear structure and weird mechanics made it a tough game to enjoy. I was hopeful for the sequel, as the localization time was much faster, and I had hoped that the developers had taken some of the criticism to heart. However, this is not the case with Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4.

As in other Ninja council games, the main story mode allows you to run around a flat 2-D version of Konoha (as well as other locales in the Naruto-verse) and perform various missions as the main characters of the Naruto series. These missions generally entail going through a few platforming areas and then fighting a boss at the end. Though there are a few deviations from this, levels start to feel very formulaic.

However, I can forgive the repetitive and somewhat uninspired gameplay. I mean, when you are making a franchise, you learn what people like and you stick to it. I can appreciate that. What I don’t appreciate, however, is how little content there is in this game. Aside from the single-player story mode, there is a multi-cart versus mode and that’s it. No online modes, no specific mission modes, not even a mini-game mode! The lack of content in this game is really its weakest point, and I was very disappointed with how little this game had to offer.

Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4 screenshot

And, in further disappointment, the main story mode isn’t even that good. The story takes you through the beginning of the Shippuden saga, which is fine, but I take issue with the simplicity and the responsiveness of the controls. Honestly, the levels are just way too simple. There is a fine line between making something accessible for younger players (which I feel that the other Naruto games were) and just being bland. Nearly every stage has the same sort of structure. Run and jump across platforms, ride elevators, avoid traps, and, of course, attack the NPCs. There is little to no variation, and after awhile I felt like I could play this game blindfolded. However, it was the controls that really kept me from the game.

The controls in Ninja Council 4 are pretty much the worst in the series. The controls are slow, and the battle system just doesn’t work. The game uses a standard button configuration for most actions, like running around with the D-pad and using the A button for jumping and the Y button for striking. However, the problem is that the game makes it very difficult to do two things at once (like jumping AND striking), and when enemies hang out on platform edges, this can become a real obstacle.

Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4 screenshot

Like the last game, there is also the issue of the touch screen control. Although every other action is controlled by the buttons, and if you want to use a chakra attack (which you will have to do very frequently), you will need to grab your stylus and tap. This is completely inefficient, and by the time you have pulled out your stylus and tapped what you wanted, you have most likely already taken damage. This was a huge gripe for me leftover from the last Ninja Council, and the fact that this control scheme is still here is definitely annoying.

Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4 screenshot

The visuals in Ninja Council 4 are about standard for the series, which actually isn’t much of a good thing. Characters are represented by animated sprites that lack detail, and backgrounds consist of plain images. Elements in the environment are also generally very stoic, aside from the odd moving platform or trap, and the visual scheme is rather boring overall.

The sound is a little better, and the game features little voice snippets from the anime. Although none of the plot scenes are voiced, you will hear characters say things in-game, which is ok. Background music is also pretty standard stuff, with different tunes playing for each level. Although there’s nothing too amazing about the sound in the game, there isn’t much bad about it either, which gives it a leg up over many other elements in this game.

I really wanted to like Ninja Council 4. I figured since it was taking place during the Shippuden saga, it would have been a good time for the series to reinvent itself and leave behind some of its poorer elements. However, Ninja Council 4 has all the same faults as its predecessor, and is made even weaker by its lack of content. It pains me to say it, but this is a Naruto title best avoided, even if you are a fan. Though the story is straight from the anime, and the game does have a few fun moments (particularly at the beginning) the tiresome platforming, cumbersome controls, and lackluster visuals just don’t make it worth your time.

Sprite-based characters are underwhelming, and flat environments are uninspired. 2.9 Control
Basic mechanics work well, but having to use the touch screen for special attacks is not fast enough for most battle situations and is inefficient. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Voiceover snippets as well as music are passable but do little to impress. 2.0

Play Value
The lack of play modes in this title is really appalling. Just having the main story mode as well as a multi-cart multiplayer option is not enough to keep you coming back.

2.3 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Set two and a half years after the events of the classic NARUTO series, NARUTO fans are introduced to older characters as the storyline advances and unfolds with more sophisticated content.
  • NARUTO Shippuden: Ninja Council 4 allows gamers to follow an older Naruto and his friends on their quest to save Gaara from the sinister Akatsuki organization. Players are able to choose their allies and form a custom three-man squad with special jutsu techniques, adding versatility to their team.
  • Based on the hit series from VIZ Media, players can also utilize the Touch Screen to unleash their unique jutsu attacks and take on anyone that gets in their way.
  • As an added bonus, aspiring ninja can utilize each playable character’s unique ninja fighting abilities to explore different hidden areas.

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