I appreciate the effort CyberConnect2 puts into the single player mode in their series of Naruto fighting games. They could easily just set up pre arranged fights, but they try to go a step beyond by adding RPG elements, action RPG elements in the Accel series. Naruto Shippuden: Narultimate Accel 2 retains the brawler style in master mode, but the mechanics aren’t as integrated as they were in the previous installment. When you are running towards the Village Hidden in the Sand rogue ninja are patiently waiting to chase you. Yes, chase you like a game of shinobi tag. If you get tapped the screen transforms into an arena battle where you mash the circle button to do shadow clone combos. However, Naruto’s combos are rendered useless compared to the power of the Odama Rasengan. Once you use the move Naruto runs like a cardboard cutout hitting everyone in front of him with a multi combo blast. His blue chakra meter depletes each time the skill is used, which should act as a limit. It doesn’t because Naruto automatically recovers his chakra when he steps on a save point. And every third screen or so there is
save point Rasengen recharge station waiting for him.
Sakura and Kakashi aid Naruto on his quest to rescue Gaara, but you can’t directly control them in the 3D battles. They rush into battle controlled by the computer until you hit one of the shoulder buttons to summon them. I guess it doesn’t matter much anyways because Kakashi is only around to Chidori enemies on call for a brief period. Unfortunately, the part that I usually enjoy about CyberConnect2’s Naruto series was the portion I loathed. I sprinted past enemies and threw kunai at them to avoid as many boring encounters as possible. I wanted to get to the real meat of Naruto Shippuden: Narultimate Accel 2, the fight sequences.
However, for every two minutes spent fighting an unlockable Akatsuki member you’re wasting ten running needlessly through barren levels. Not all of the filler content is bad, some of it works well with the canon. In one sequence you use Neji's Byakugan to find seals and remove them by throwing kunai. If you’ve been following Shippuden you’ll probably remember this event and it’s fairly well reproduced in Naruto Shippuden: Narultimate Accel 2. Other optional quests unlock jutsus, which can be used to further tailor a character.
OK back to the fighting, the glue that holds Naruto Shippuden: Narultimate Accel 2 together. CyberConnect2 didn’t reinvent the wheel, Accel 2 feels like other entries in the series. You still teleport between 2D planes, press up up + circle to do a jutsu and charge chakra for an ougi with the triangle button. The big modification is the addition of a Marvel vs. Capcom partner character you can call by pressing the R1 button. If you call Hinata out she rushes forward to slam an enemy with a flailing jump attack. Some combinations have other benefits like unique team ouigis. Sasori and Deidara work together to bombard an opponent with exploding spiders and iron sand spikes. Sakura can act as Chiyo’s puppet and she can also throw a chain of Naruto’s shadow clones in two separate team ougis. Not every combination has a unique super move, most don’t. However, the few team ougis in the game are bound to amuse fans.
The initial selection of partner characters is limited at the beginning of the game. You need to fight clones labeled with a gray Konhoa symbol above their hands to make them selectable. Fighting these battles also unlocks the younger pre-time skip characters for free battle mode too. However, if you have a save file from Naruto Shippuden: Narultimate Accel your previous hard earned unlocks carry over. By the time you press through the two story arcs in master mode, the roster is gigantic with a sizeable number of brand new characters. Actually, this is the largest roster in a Naruto fighting game to date! The diversity also carries over to the gameplay because there are so many different fighting styles. You can hang in the distance with Sasori and attack with the Third Kazekage puppet. Sai is another ranged fighter, he can utilize his ink animals while other characters like Choji have to close the distance. Like many 2D fighters Naruto Shippuden: Narultimate Accel 2 boils down to controlling space, but fast replacement jutsu reversals distinguish the fighter from being another Street Fighter II clone.
So, the single player mode wasn’t all I hoped it would be. It kept me busy for a couple hours while I was trying to unlock thenew characters like Sasuke, but I won’t be playing master mode again. Good thing Naruto Shippuden: Narultimate Accel 2 remains a capable, technical fighting game with an expanded character roster. I guess I’ll think of this as my personal “Madden upgrade” this year while I wait for CyberConnect2’s brand new Naruto PS3 project.