"Uzumaki Barrage!"

User Rating: 8.6 | Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen! 2 GC
Earlier this year my sons and I jumped on the Naruto bandwagon, and started watching the show. We’ve been hooked ever since. I’d contemplated getting the first Clash of Ninja game for the Cube, but when I heard that the 2nd installment would offer about twice as many playable characters I decided to hold out for it. Well, we got it on release day, and this past weekend had a little Naruto party here at home before Saturday’s show. Sure, I’m a cheeseball, but my kids and I had fun. So, here’s what I think of the game…

Published by D3 Publisher / Tomy
Developed by Eighting
Released Sept. 2006
Genre: Fighting
Rated T (teen)
Platform: Gamecube (GCN)

Story: The story mode of the game follows the series to a tee. If you’re a regular Naruto viewer, like myself, you’ll follow along fine. Even if you’re not a fan though, it moves throughout the single-player mode much in the same way as the Weapons Master mode of Soul Calibur 2. Since it’s a fighting game, there’s no overworld that your characters travel through. However, unlike Soul Calibur 2, Clash of Ninja 2 (CoN2) offers substantial story elements – with voice acting by the show’s actual stars – between each match. It progresses along just past where the series is now when seen on Cartoon Network each Saturday evening. Many of the games unlockables are acquired from play in the story mode, so you’ll definitely want to spend some time there. It’s fun, and the AI is a good challenge.

Gameplay: Though the story mode is a cool single-player experience, let’s face it it’s the multiplayer that most of us bought this game for. For the most part, everything is kept fairly simple. Again, comparing the game to something like Soul Calibur 2, it’s no where near as deep. However, it’s truly addicting. You start out with 10 playable characters. Each has their own set of moves and attacks. Controls are tight, and you’re using pretty much all of them. What makes CoN2 especially fun though, is that each character from the show is able to perform signature moves that fans will no doubt be delighted to see. Naruto has his Shadow Clone jutsu, which goes into the infamous Uzumaki Barrage – a technique he copied from Sasuke, who copied his technique from Bushy Brow (if I lost you there, don’t worry it’s just fan chatter). Rock Lee can even perform his Hidden Lotus technique. It requires him to execute his chakra channeling 3 times and he leaves himself terribly vulnerable because of the energy that is taken from him, but it’s still quite a sight to behold.

In order to use a ninja’s special skills & jutsus, they must fill up a chakra meter. Each time your character is either hit or hits someone else, a small amount of chakra is accumulated. You can almost think of it as a stress meter (for folks who’ve played Tales of Symphonia, you know that character stress builds up over time until they go into overlimit – this is something of that nature). But chakra also has another very interesting use. When the gauge fills to a halfway point, you can then perform a substitution jutsu, leaving your opponent to attack a wooden log while you flee to safety.

In addition to unique moves, special skills and jutsus, each character also has their own set of combos. Some are little more than a series of button mashing, but like most other good fighting games button mashing won’t do much for you against a skilled opponent. The multiplayer offers play for up to 4 players in any variation: 4-player free for all; 2 vs. 2; 3 vs. 1; etc. There are a slew of unlockable characters, backgrounds and other cool features, and it’s a very satisfying gaming package overall.

Graphics: The visuals in CoN2 are sweet – “believe it!” The backgrounds are so beautiful that you might find yourself distracted while in battle. The characters are all in full 3D, which is interesting since they’re also anime-depicted. It’s a great look, and the cel-shading is very clean. I have noticed absolutely no slowdown or other frame-rate issues; everything runs smooth. Additionally, when your characters perform their special jutsus (successfully) the game goes into a short animation, and it’s a real treat. It’s not very long, so it has no adverse effect on battles. But being able to watch your favorite characters unleash their fury is something that makes you wanna get up and cheer (which I have done from time to time).

Sound: Some games offer a nice variety of action sounds, or even the occasional voice over. Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2 gives fans so much more for their money when it comes to sound. All the voices that you’re familiar with from the hit TV show are there, and can be heard throughout each and every battle. Even in the story mode, where normally there might only be text, we get all of the dialogue backed by the show’s actors. The music is recorded very well, with some nice crisp highs; and the selection is everything from whimsical to Hard Rock Café. Cool battle sounds, and the effects that accompany the insane special jutsus work really nicely.

Presentation: I don’t know why – perhaps it’s the heavy Japanese overtones of the series and game – but the game reminds me of some of the great fighters I remember as a kid (I’m talking about the early 80’s now, folks). Anyway, it’s kind of your typical fighting-game package. You’ve got the story mode, which allows you to get at most of the unlockables; a survival mode and time-trial mode; and the multiplayer is, of course, the main attraction. All the fighting you do, whether it be in multiplayer or some other mode, earns you gold. Once you’ve unlocked certain things in the game, you can then use that gold at a shop to purchase those unlockables. As good as the game is there’s an air of cheapness to its presentation. Oddly enough though, and you may call me crazy for saying so, it almost lends itself to the overall likeableness of the game. The menus aren’t too fancy, but seeing Naruto eating a bowl of ramen each time the game auto-saves is just one of the little nuances that make the game so endearing. Anyway, the game, whether you’re a hardcore fan like we are or just someone looking for a new and enjoyable fighter for play on the GCN, has a quality that should make it a classic. A cult classic to be sure, since it’s likely that many folks will ignore the game because of its being based on a TV show (that’s based on a manga series). But it’s still a great fighter, and a treasure for Naruto fans everywhere.

Thanks for reading, and happy gaming!


The Breakdown

Presentation / 7.5
The game’s kind of put together in the same shameless way that most TV-franchise games are, adding an element of cheapness to it, but that takes nothing away from the quality of the actual game itself.

Graphics / 9
If you were expecting a slop-job of cookie cutter graphics, well I’m glad to put your worries to rest. These visual rival those of Soul Calibur 2. Believe it!

Sound / 9.5
I’m jacking the points up on this one because it is so pleasing to hear not only the occasional voice-over work during battle, but throughout the entire story mode as well. Music is top notch, and effects fit in very nicely.

Gameplay / 8
The gameplay isn’t terribly deep, but it has a lot to offer. CoN2 isn’t just for Naruto fans, but for anyone looking for a solid fighting title for the Gamecube.

Replay / 8
The replay value might vary, depending on your love of the series and / or the style of fighting. But with the various single-player modes and multiplayer options, there’s quite a lot to come back to.