Anime is big business in Canada. After the success of Sailor Moon – and I know that plenty of guys used to watch it otherwise I?m in big trouble ? YTV has provided their young audience with plenty of the topnotch Japanese cartoons. They?ve aired nearly every series of Dragon Ball, plenty of Gundam Wing, Ghost in the Shell and nowadays it looks like Naruto is the next big thing.
Me personally, I watch plenty of cartoons but this one just doesn?t stick. Maybe I?m starting to mature but I seriously doubt it. Nevertheless, I can see why kids love it. The ?dramatic? moments are built up with plenty of minutes of fighters gawking at each other in good old-fashioned stare-offs. When the fighting finally starts, ninjas move at lightning speeds and the battles last for half the episode sometimes. It gets pretty intense.
That said, the cartoon has potential for a great video game. Developed by Eighting, Naruto: Clash of Ninja offers players all the characters from the popular television series, complete with the voice actors, and it all comes packaged in beautiful cel-shading graphics.
If you?ve played Tekken or Soul Caliber, this fighting game follows a very similiar format. Fighters can move in a 3-D environment but most of the punching and kicking stays on one path. Every character has an individual combo and special, often lunging opponents into the air, and then beating them the hell back down to the ground. As players become more skilled, the use of counter-attacks becomes the true strategy of the game. A well-timed counter can leave an opponent fully open for a special and completely un/even the odds.
I?d say my only beef with this game is the fact that it gets a bit repetitive. Granted, while in most fighting games, fighters typically have a specific set of moves and combos, if done correctly, players can mix and match these to get a bit more creative. Marvel Vs. Capcom for example is famous for this. Characters in that game have such a variety of moves at times that two rival players who constantly play each other can never get bored.
With Naruto, characters have a very specific set of moves and it?s hard to really mix this up. With combos, there?s no mixing up whatsoever and it feels a lot like a button-masher sometimes. This also works for the game?s advantage however, as characters have very distinct fighting styles and speed and power are definitely balanced differently between characters so that different strategies need to be developed in particular matches. Zabuza who wields a six-foot-long and one-foot-wide sword for example, moves slower but three chops can leave an opponent with a third of their energy bar axed. But when faced with Sakura Haruno, a character that moves incredibly fast and easily nails a barrage of hits in one combo, yet at medium damage, the battle does get interesting.
Overall, the one-player quest and Arcade modes aren?t very challenging and they won?t be for younger players either. Specific characters can unlock gallery art and extra players, which is a plus, but if you?re a mature gamer and aren?t too crazy about the show this game might be worth just a rental. If on the other hand you love the show and have another video game companion to serve as a rival then perhaps you should invest in it. Again, the game is fun and looks great but there are plenty of fightersout there to provide what you might really be looking for. If you have a Gamecube then check this out.