Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2 is the sequel to last year's PSP brawler starring ninja and nine-tailed demon receptacle Naruto Uzumaki. The game offers the same role-playing-game-light team-based fighting, but with some improvements. We had an opportunity to try out a work-in-progress version of the game, and we're pleased to report that it promises to be a fan pleaser.
As in the original game, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2 lets you duke it out with a team of fighters that you can customize. The big addition to the game is the new Mugenjo mode, which adds a more RPG-flavored experience that tasks you and your team with trekking up 100 floors in a mysterious tower that's appeared. While this may sound pretty run-of-the-mill, the game puts a unique twist on it by allowing you, within reason, to customize the experience for yourself. As you make your way to the different floors, you'll come across open areas that you'll be able to customize by using scrolls to determine what kind of challenge is presented to you. The options we tried were a battle room (standard fight), leaf climbing (a minigame that has you running up a tree), and shadow possession (a "Simon Says"-style minigame). We passed on the puzzle room option, which was essentially a trivia contest. As you progress, you'll also come to points where you'll need to use one of your party member's skills to clear obstacles so you can move forward.
The combat in the game is very much in line with what we've played before. You'll be able to jump, throw shuriken, and perform basic and powered-up attacks, as well as powerful special attacks, which require chakra. Your arsenal of moves is supplemented by items you can pick up during battle, such as explosives or more powerful shuriken that come in limited quantities.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2's graphics match, and in some cases, surpass those of its predecessor. Naruto and company are all rendered nicely and match their anime counterparts. We noticed some enhancements, especially during the cinematic special attacks, which showed off some more visual flair than in the original game. Overall, the game has a nice look to it and moves smoothly.
Based on what we played, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2 is shaping up to be a solid follow-up to the original game. The improvements seem to be working out well and make it more accessible to different players. Players looking for a diverting title for their PSP might want to give the game a once over when it ships later this year. Look for more on the game in the coming weeks.