aka Naruto: Ninjutsu Zenkai! Saikyou Ninja Daikesshu.
Now that Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto has landed in America, North American gamers are finally getting a chance to play the backlog of Naruto titles. The first portable game, Naruto: Ninja Council (known as Naruto: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshu in Japan) pits Naruto and Sasuke against seven side scrolling stages.
Ninja Council loosely follows the story of the series. You start out playing as either the number one knuckleheaded ninja Naruto or his bitter rival Sasuke Uchiha. Each fighter can do a simple taijutsu (hand to hand) combo by pressing the B button although Sasuke lands hits faster than Naruto. Most of the time you’ll be punching and kicking your way through rival ninja as you run through each level. Players also can use their ninja tools for a ranged attack. You start out carrying basic shuriken, but you can find other tools like kunai that can counter enemy ninja’s shuriken or senbon (needles) which can hit mid air enemies. Ranged attacks are particularly useful for players to defeat flying crows and hit ninja standing on ledge. Since Naruto: Ninja Council is a 2D platformer there are some jumping puzzles and every once in awhile bridges that break when you step on them.
ARC Systems also added in some puzzle elements to the game. Each level has different elemental scrolls to collect. A helpful fire style will let players burn down dead trees to pass forward and the wind scroll lets players jump high in the sky. Using the scrolls is simple, just hold down the R button and spend a little bit of chakra to use them. By using scrolls players can open up new areas, which is crucial if they want to find all one hundred of the konhoa leaf symbols scattered around. Collecting these is probably the greatest “challenge” there is in the game because Naruto: Ninja Council is rather easy. The seven stages can be beaten in a few hours and since players are given infinite continues there really isn’t any challenge in the main game.
If there’s any point where players are going to run into trouble it’s with the bosses at the end of each stage. Players will get a chance to do battle with rival genin like Temari, Shikamaru, Shino and so forth after each level. Each genin has their own signature chakra attack they can use like Haku’s crystal ice mirrors that players will need to dodge. Your best tactic to fight back is to counter with your own techniques. Sasuke and Naruto not only have their own techniques, but they play slightly differently. Both characters can charge their chakra by holding down the B button. As you charge your chakra you’ll be able to use more powerful jutsu. Sasuke starts out by using his multiple shuriken technique, but if you hold down the B button a little longer players can use his powerful phoenix fireball jutsu. Naruto also has tiered jutsus, but he can fail a technique if you let go of the B button while the meter is red. So instead of doing his Uzumaki barrage combo he’ll fart. To sum it up Sasuke is more accurate and Naruto is unpredictable albeit powerful. Naruto also has another edge. Some of his techniques have “instant kill” effects when used on the right boss. Take the honorable Ebisu as an example. If you use the sexy jutsu on him Ebisu will be “shamed” and you’ll win. Fans will love nods to the series like this.
If you took a look at Naruto: Ninja Council and thought this looks like a first generation GBA game you’re not too far from the truth. Naruto: Ninja Council was originally released in Japan in 2003 and even then the game didn’t look that impressive. The fuzzy backgrounds and blurry sprite graphics don’t push the GBA to the limits at all. Also somewhat disappointing is the music. Instead of taking advantage of the anime’s excellent soundtrack, Naruto: Ninja Council goes for the generic string music approach. Perhaps the best part of the game’s presentation is the voices. Ninja Council takes advantage of the voice actors / actresses from the series to record sound bytes for Naruto and Sasuke. So when you’re performing Sasuke’s fireball jutsu he shouts “feel the power of Uchiha”.
If you’re a fan of the orange ninja, Naruto: Ninja Council is amusing for the short time it lasts. Pick it up if you want an easy to play beat ‘em up, but don’t expect it to be anything more than a plane trip diversion.
Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 0
D3 Publisher localized this game in English for North America. If the game was not in English players might miss out on Kakashi’s tips, but the game is simple enough that you won’t need them.
Naruto: Ninja Council was released on 03.07.06.
+ Pros: Two different characters to play with and good ties with the anime.
– Cons: The level design and gameplay is fairly basic. Also Ninja Council can be beat in a few hours with little difficulty.
Overall: Naruto: Ninja Council is designed for fans of the series, but even they might feel a little let down after tracking down every secret in a weekend.
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