Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen 2

Naruto and company return in a more traditional fighting game


The Lowdown

Pros: Lots of characters to choose from, four player fighting, good translation to 3D

Cons: Button mashing fighting, shallow story mode

Purchase at Play-Asia
The popularity of the Naruto series has led to a sequel of the Gamecube Naruto game, Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen. This version goes deeper into the story than the previous game, offers more characters, new combos and even a four player mode. In comparison to the Playstation 2 Naruto game, the Gamecube game is a more traditional fighting game. Which is a good thing since Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen 2 fills the void for a solid Gamecube fighting game.

If you've been following the Naruto series at all chances are you'll favorite character will be in the roster. Of course the stars of the series Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura and Kakashi are in the game. They even have alternate versions that can be unlocked such as Nine Tails Naruto and Sharingan Sasuke. Other popular characters such as Rock Lee, Kiba, Shikamaru, Hinata, and Garra are all playable from the start. You can unlock many more characters including Haku, Kankuro, Iruka and even Akimaru (Kiba's dog). For the most part each character plays completely differently from each other. Naruto is a close fighting character, while Garra is a ranged fighter. There are one or two clone characters (characters that have the same moves), but with such a large selection of characters that's bound to happen.

Controlling your character is simple. The A button is for a weapon attack, B is for a physical attack, Y is used for throws and X is a chakra powered special attack. At the start of each match you're granted a full chakra bar. If you press X you'll unleash your special move, which drains your chakra meter to zero. The special moves are taken directly from the series. You can pull off the Naruto Rendon, Kiba's Piercing Fang and Kakashi's Lightning Fist. To charge up your chakra again you'll need to attack your enemy with basic moves. Besides doing your character's special move the chakra meter serves another purpose. Once your meter is charged up to 70% or more you'll be to pull of the "replacement technique" to avoid enemy attacks. Doing the replacement technique will take away 70% of your chakra bar, but you'll avoid an entire combo. You don't need to rely on your chakra bar to pull off attacks because you'll have an arsenal of moves at your disposal. Basic attacks can be done by either attacking with your weapon of a physical attack. For most characters if you hold down the weapon attack button you'll throw more kunai or ninja stars that can even knock enemies back. Combos can be done by alternating between pressing B and A. Most people will be able to jump right into the game since you can button mash your way into doing a combo. However, if you do put the time into it you can actually learn combos.

When playing the game's story mode it will take you through various episodes and classic battles. For instance one of the earlier battles in the story mode pits Naruto, Sauske and Sakura against Kakashi to represent the time when the three students were trying to take the bells off of Kakashi. While the four player battles are fun when playing against a friend the computer partners don't really help much in the single player mode. In the Kakashi versus students battle you'll be pretty much off on your own. The game does a good job of picking classic battles, but one problem with the system is that you're forced into being a certain character. In one battle you'll be Naruto and in the next one you'll be Kakashi. The problem with this is that you don't get to master a character by playing the story mode. Instead of having a general story mode it would be nice to see individual story modes for the characters like in the Playstation 2 version. Playing through the game gives you money that you can use to unlock characters and buy other goodies like handicaps. Just a warning, but the story mode will actually go beyond the TV series. So if you don't want the series spoiled for you don't play through it.

One thing Naurto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen 2 does right is it makes good use of the Gamecube's four controller ports. Of course playing against a friend is fun, but playing against two other friends is even more fun. When battling in four player mode there are lines that show which direction you'll attack in. For the most part you'll be battling in the direction you're facing. This forces you to side step to change which character you're fighting against. While this is a little awkward at first it does a good job of having a fast four player battle. If you don't have four players to fight against you can play with three or the standard two players. With the wide roster of characters and four player support Naurto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen 2 is not only a fighting game, but a party game too.

If you're watching the game waiting for your turn to play you will not be disappointed with what you see. The game does a good job of taking 2D hand drawn characters and putting them into the 3D polygon world. Each character's animations are well done. You can see the detail put into the translation with the impressive super moves. For instance when Garra does his Desert Coffin attack you can see the same expressions on his face as in the anime. Each of the character models are excellent. Little details like the tape around Kakashi's leg to Rock Lee's fuzzy eyebrows are all put in the game. Even with all of this detail the game has little slowdown and runs at a fluid frame rate.

If you have a Gamecube this a solid game to purchase. It's one of the few fighting games that dares to use the Gamecube's unique controller. While not as stylish or original as the Playstation 2 Naruto game, Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen 2 is a great fighting game and a welcome addition to anyone's Gamecube collection.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 2

All of the menus, voiceovers and story details are all in Japanese. If you've been following the series at all you should know what is going on and the game is simple enough to learn without knowing any Japanese.

US Bound?

Since the series isn't in America don't expect this game to reach US shores any time soon.

Overall

With the lack of Gamecube fighting games, this game is a must have for any fighting game fan. Even if you don't really like fighting games this game is so easy to learn and fun to play the average game will still appreciate it.