Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 Hands-On

We hone our ninja skills with a localized build of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 for the PlayStation 2.

In the world of anime, Naruto is rivaled perhaps only by Dragon Ball Z in terms of generating fanaticism. Much like the latter franchise, Naruto has already spawned more than a dozen announced games on eight different platforms. Most of the Naruto games to come out thus far have been released in Japan only, but with the ever-growing popularity of the anime and manga in the United States, you can bet that more and more Naruto games will make the trip across the Pacific. However, with games announced for the Wii and Xbox 360, it's only a matter of time before Naruto parts ways with the old console generation in favor of the new. But there's still more in store for the PlayStation 2 with an upcoming sequel to last year's stylish brawler, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja. Appropriately titled Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2, the sequel has been available in Japan since 2004 but is finally coming stateside next month. We sat down with a localized build of the game to see how Ultimate Ninja 2 improves on its predecessor.

There are three basic modes in Ultimate Ninja 2: a versus mode where you just play a basic fight, a training mode where you can practice moves with the character of your choice, and the ultimate road mode. In addition to these modes you can visit Naruto's home to look at all of the items you've collected, or you can go to the Tanzaku Market to purchase new items such as music, videos, and figures using ryo that you've earned in the single-player game.

If you're playing Ultimate Ninja 2 solo, you'll most likely spend most of your time in the Ultimate Road mode, which is a basic story mode with a few added role-playing elements. In Ultimate Road mode you play as Naruto, and it's up to you to fight your way through one opponent after another as you follow the storyline of the anime. Between fights you can explore Leaf Village, talk to people, visit the ramen shop, take a gondola ride to the lookout tower, visit the training area, and more. Even though the story is focused on Naruto and you'll usually be controlling only him when not in battle, you won't always be stuck fighting as Naruto. Sometimes you'll get to fight as other characters. For instance, in an early series of fights, after we finished one match playing as Naruto we fought the next match as Shikamaru Nara. Between battles you can also customize your character by allocating points you've earned to attributes such as strength, defense, chakra, and agility. The character customization, world exploration, and heavy use of dialogue and cutscenes between fights all add up to make Ultimate Road mode feel almost like a role-playing game.

You'll see plenty of familiar faces battling it out in the game.

Of course, the unique features of Ultimate Road mode are essentially just window dressing for what is still very much a fast-paced, flashy fighting game. The battles are one-on-one fights set in a variety of large, interactive stages. The controls are extremely simple, and even if you don't have any experience with fighting games you shouldn't have any difficulty picking this one up. The circle button is the standard attack button, and by tapping combos and holding the left analog stick or D pad in a direction while attacking you'll pull off different moves. The X button is used for movement, and you can use it to dash around the level, jump through the air, and move between the middle, back, and front planes on each stage. You can pick up and use items by first selecting the item you want to use and then pressing the square button to use it. You can get scrolls, projectiles, and other items that will come in handy during a battle.

The game sounds simple, and for the most part the fights require little more than frantic button mashing. However, there are some spectacular special moves that you can pull off by using magic energy called chakra. By holding down on the D pad you can charge up your chakra gauge, which can be filled a maximum of three times. Once you have enough chakra, you can press a combination of the triangle and circle buttons to unleash an over-the-top special move. When you perform these moves the screen transitions to show the action from various angles, and a sort of minigame is initiated in which you have to enter random button combinations or spin the left analog stick faster than your opponent to inflict large amounts of damage.

When playing as Naruto, we pulled off a special attack called the "New Knockout Move!" in which we had to play a sort of tug-of-war by spinning the left analog stick to get an onscreen indicator over to our opponent's side of the screen. Meanwhile, the opponent is doing the same thing and trying to push the indicator over to your side. When we pulled off this move, Naruto threw a massive ball of energy that tore a deep trench in the ground as it flew toward the opponent. We performed this move on one character and ended up taking off about two-thirds of his health in a single blow.

The special attacks look good enough that you might not mind being on the receiving end of one.

When you aren't fighting or running around town, you can play minigames in the Ultimate Road mode. There are about six of these games to choose from, and by playing them you can earn ryo that you can spend to unlock various items. To initiate these minigames you simply have to talk to the right characters. We talked to Guy and played a pose challenge in which we had to mimic his moves by memorizing and then entering button combinations that got progressively longer with each round. In another very similar game we did the same thing with Shikamaru. Later we ran a handstand race against Guy in which we had to alternate pressing the circle and square buttons to run on our hands around a track. There were ninja hounds on the track that would attack us if we didn't slow down or speed up at the right time, but for the most part the handstand race and the other minigames were very easy.

There are more than 30 characters to choose from in Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2, and about 16 different stages. The characters we unlocked weren't terribly surprising and included people like Guy, Rock Lee, Kakashi, Shino, and Ino. But even after spending a few hours with the game, we were still left with a lot of question marks on the character select screen. We'll have to wait until June to see the rest of what Ultimate Ninja 2 has to offer, but until then, you can take a look at the latest screenshots and gameplay movies that have been added to the gamespace.

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Discussion

46 comments
AzureSonSeku
AzureSonSeku

Is there a possibility to chose Japanese voice for the characters???

zeke2040
zeke2040

man, this game rocks! i already got , weeepa!

shortmerv1
shortmerv1

this game is great i am going to get it for my bro because he like naruto.

CyberGamer79
CyberGamer79

I hated both Clash of Ninja games but this looks great! I hope they use English voicing, even if they put in captions. I cant wait! only 3 days!!!

chuamishael
chuamishael

Actually they are planning to use Japanese voice instead, because they know how horrible the english voice are... and they just put english sub only. and all menus and text are in english. well they plan it, but still not confirm by the marketing director.

BrUnOdeFeNiX
BrUnOdeFeNiX

I've this game in Japanese and no is difficult to understand the game and menus... The japanese voices is so pretty cool...

Azodir
Azodir

God it's so ugly when they speak english. Much better in japanese

CyberGamer79
CyberGamer79

Looks good... Better than clash of ninjas series 4 sure!!

goku4ssvegeta
goku4ssvegeta

Hey!!! Does n e 1 know when Naruto Uzumaki Chronicles 2 comes 2 the U.S.!!!!

LisaKickAsS
LisaKickAsS

YEA im definetly gonna get this game ^_^

Dylanius
Dylanius

Just wait for 3... oooooooohhohoh boy wait for 3 :)

Neoz-TO
Neoz-TO

I know there a huge difference between the current and the US. Where are they right now on the US version? cause I really don't watch it on tv. Still it's a fighting game its not like it has spoilers. Also narutoxx5 you're just repeating what I said a week ago.

Estona
Estona

Boo-ya sounds good

joserodz
joserodz

this is what im saving up for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

UTIxxx50
UTIxxx50

i can't wait for this game!

GameBeaten
GameBeaten

I can't wait to get this game! I would get Naruto Shippuuden Narutimate Accel, but I don't have a Japanese PS2. Even if I did, I've never imported any games before. But the videos I've seen on Youtube of the game look absolutly freakin' amazing! But right now, I'll be happy with Ultimate Ninja 2 when it's available. Then once time has gone by I can anticipate Ultimate Ninja 3. Hopefully that can make it stateside.

urahara9
urahara9

AWWW MAN!!!! Narutimatte Accel is soooooo BAD@$$!!! Ultimate Ninja 2 is good for people who want more from the the first Ultimate Ninja. the series just keep better and better everytime! just wait for Naruto Shippuden Narutimatte Accel if you guys want something way, way, way better compared to all Naruto games for PS2! have fun folks!!!

redflagwaving
redflagwaving

but a lot of people don't have japanese ps2s. anyways lookin amazing

narutoxx5
narutoxx5

why play Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 and you can play naruto shippuuden:Narutimate Accel

kakashi_Itachi7
kakashi_Itachi7

Neoz-To its bacause its following the American Story line

cut678
cut678

it needs to come out for xbox :(

Neoz-TO
Neoz-TO

Why get this? Narutimate Accel (ultimate ninja 4) is already out. It also has over 50 characters.

oumir
oumir

i don't think it has been 16 months, but the new characters is cool and different stages to fight in. well have to see...

joserodz
joserodz

i am siked about this game

TehReaper
TehReaper

Hmm sounds pretty good. The first one wasn't to bad, but i'm kinda a naruto freak, so ya...

Wolverine5000X
Wolverine5000X

This part helps set off the whole "Naruto vs. Sasuke" Deal, with the clash of chidori and rasengan. But it also brings out the many characteristics of the other ninja, so it makes for a thrilling sequel

da_illest101
da_illest101

I hate the naruto series and i'm not happy that they have a new game ...

autobotsx
autobotsx

MEh didnt like the first game at all. It was fun at first then got boring really really fast. If the gameplay is the same, than no need to bother with this game. All anime that has a video game version sux for some odd reason. So yeah this wont be worth my time even if iam a big naruto fan so BELIEVE IT !!! =)

killered3
killered3

Don't really care about the Japanese voices, I grew to enjoy both. Either way I want this game!

CloudXentar
CloudXentar

I'll get it for sure, shame about the jap. voices they are much better.

xxnike629xx
xxnike629xx

Yea. I want the JPN voice option as well. I heard that they took out the Movie 01 characters to not "spoil" anything, which I don't get because there's quite a bit of other things in the game that severely spoils a lot of things from the plot. The most important thing is that we're getting the game, which we are. Now only if Namco-Bandai could spend the weeks before release to add in the JPN voice to make us fans happy. The English dub is ok at best. But some can get very annoying. I shiver everytime I think about how they mutilated Kakashi's voice in Ultimate Ninja 1. He sounds like an old man. -_-

thug_angel123
thug_angel123

meh not instrested I already picked up naruto shipuudden accel...

ocdog45
ocdog45

not as good w/o the jp voice track IMO

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

Is there really not Japanese voice track? If there isn't, I am not buying this game. Seriously, I hate the english dub so much, that I only watch fansubs. Also: the japanese VO is so crazy good, that it's worth watching fansubs for it alone.

AaronThomas
AaronThomas

Previews are written for the entire GameSpot audience, not just fans of one specific system, genre, or game.

xxnike629xx
xxnike629xx

After waiting for such a long time, Greg Mueller delivers us a Preview for Ultimate Ninja 2. Although the preview covers a large portion of the game, Greg Mueller fails to deliver a well written preview. It seems like even I could've done a much better job writing a preview for Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2. Wasn't it a bit superfluous in some parts? For example, "...magic energy called chakra.". I would think that if you have played Ultimate Ninja 1, watch the anime, and or read the manga that you would know what chakra is. I'm just going to take a stab at this, but I'm going to assume that 99% of the gamers who buy this are a fan of Naruto. With that said, Greg Mueller seems to have written this for people who are completely unfamiliar with Naruto. Anyway, at least GameSpot updated Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2. I'm just upset at how ugly Naruto looks on the cover for the USA version of the game and that Bandai-Namco chose not to include the JPN voice track. The English voice track is a little above average in terms of quality. If an option to switch voice tracks was available, I would think that this game will sell better. I'll be looking forward to a Review of Ultimate Ninja 2 (as well as the likely Video Review).

XGxAxMxExRX
XGxAxMxExRX

this game sounds and looks pretty good