By Spencer . December 18, 2006 . 2:55pm
Many anime games are shoveled on to systems for quick cash, but for the most part the Naruto games haven’t been that bad. Maybe that’s why I thought Naruto: Shinobi Retsuden would be worth checking out. A 3D fighter on the DS similar to the style of the Geiktou Ninja Taisen Gamecube series sounded pretty good. Instead Naruto: Shinobi Retsuden is far from that, it’s a watered down fighter and it isn’t even really in 3D.
Naruto: Shinobi Retsuden has OK looking 3D models, but the actual game is really a 2D fighter. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of an arena you can’t fully run around. Instead you are limited to moving left or right with the d-pad and sidestepping by pressing up or down. Besides restricting movement the control scheme maps jump on the X button which makes jumping attacks awkward to do. Then you have B and Y to do basic attacks. Since up and down are used for side stepping the total amount of moves each character has are a meager eleven attacks. That includes all techniques, jump attacks, dash attacks and the single special attack each character has. You can put together the different attacks to make combos, but it’s still very limited.
Fans will be disappointed to know that Naruto: Shinobi Retsuden’s character roster is light too. There are only thirteen characters to play. Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, Kakashi, Lee, Shikamaru and Neji are available to play with at the beginning. After beating story mode you can get Temari, Guy, and Gaara. The final three hidden characters: Itachi, Kyubii Naruto and Cursed Seal Sasuke 2 can be unlocked by beating the arcade mode. As for specials, Naruto obviously uses the rasengan, Sasuke has chidori, Sakura has the same Sakura barrage as see in Clash of Ninja, Itachi uses amaterasu and Lee uses the omote renge. Using a special attack takes up 75% of your chakra, but specials can easily shave off a quarter or more off your opponent’s life bar. Instead of wasting all your chakra on a one chance attack your better off saving it to do an instant reversal where you appear behind the other person you’re fighting.
The main change in Naruto: Shinobi Retsuden is that you have items to help you out in fights. At the start of a battle you’re given six random items. Soldier pills instantly recover your chakra, food recovers life and the chunnin vest prevents you from getting stunned for a few seconds. Once you use an item it’s gone until the next battle where you automatically get six new items. Having an arsenal of instant boosting items makes Naruto: Shinobi Retsuden way too easy to beat. The single story mode starring Naruto can be beat in about half an hour. Besides the story mode there is only an arcade mode and wireless battles to keep you playing Naruto: Shinobi Retsuden. It’s not a lot and after you unlock all of the characters it’s unlikely you’ll come back to play the game again.
The problem with Naruto: Shinobi Retsuden is that it is basic and pretty much inferior to other fighting games on the DS. It’s mindlessly basic and even the most die hard Naruto will probably be disappointed with it. If you really have to pick up this game you shouldn’t have too many problems even if you don’t understand Japanese. There aren’t any goals to figure out and you can skip all of the boring story sequences by pressing B. Where you might run in to trouble are with the items, the descriptions are in kana and simple kanji. Remember this if you see food the item is going to recover HP, a bag of pills recovers chakra, and the gourd recovers some HP and chakra. If you see a scroll it boosts your attack and the omamori, which looks like a tag increases your defense. The only thing that Naruto: Shinobi Retsuden has going for it is the cast of Naruto characters, but it only goes so far.
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