It’s easy to imagine Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Retsuden 2 as a portable version of Naruto Shippuden: Gekitou Ninja Taisen EX 2. Shinobi Retsuden 2 contains many of the same characters. It uses some of the same jutsu animations, only with graphics the DS can handle. However, the fighting system in Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Retsuden 2 is far from the console counterpart. Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Retsuden 2 retains the broken fighting system from the previous Shinobi Retsuden / Ninja Destiny games where fights come down to using powerful jutsus.
One key problem is the limited movement your character has on screen. Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Retsuden 2 has 3D models, but it is not a full 3D fighter. It’s a 2D fighting game with sidestepping mapped to up/down on the D-pad. You can also attempt to dodge attacks by back flipping away from your opponent, but this move is executed so slowly you’re likely to be hit mid-evasion. In this sense, Kisame has a huge edge because his sword gives him an unfair amount of reach. The Samehada also drains chakra, which means you won’t be able to use devastating moves like Naruto’s Odama Rasengan or teleport to safety if you get hit by it. Any character can counter Kisame by using the replacement jutsu, a move that teleports characters behind opponents, but each use drains roughly a third of the chakra bar.
Since don’t have to worry about darting between attacks, fights are distilled into mindless mashing of the B and Y buttons until the chakra bar is at full capacity to unleash a jutsu. The worse part is the experience feels the same whether you’re using a supposedly ranged fighter like Gaara or hand to hand combat specialist Rock Lee. You can’t hide in a corner summoning bursts of sand from the floor as Gaara. He attacks with a barrage of punches and kicks. Sai, a character known for drawing ink lions, rushes head first into combat in too. Deidara at least retains his clay creatures for attacks, but there usually isn’t enough screen distance between two players to get any use out of his explosive birds.
In case you are wondering who is in the game these are the initial characters in single player mode:
You can unlock more characters and by playing through the extended single player mode. Some playable characters, like the cast from the previous game, have to be unlocked by winning a set number of fights in survival mode. I don’t want to spoil the entire roster because there is pretty cool surprise, a first for any Naruto game from Tomy, in Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Retsuden 2, but the cast list is literally full of Narutos.
The single player story mode is the main feature Tomy worked on when developing Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Retsuden 2. It takes players from the start of the Shippuden series with a more mature Naruto coming home to Konhoa, leaving to rescue Gaara and heading out with the new Team 7 to find Sasuke. It pretty much covers the current anime arc. You get to live it in Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Retsuden 2 by guiding Naruto around the leaf village hub world and punching the lights out of pesky moths.
While Naruto is exploring areas he encounters random enemies like inept rogue ninja. These battles use the same engine as a fight against Neji, but Naruto’s life doesn’t recover after a victory. You have to use the limited items you get to boost Naruto. If you carefully search through the maps you will find more items to use via the six button touch screen menu. The first level has Naruto track Gaara through the desert. When you get to your goal, a text based cutscene play out and then you get thrown into fights with Gaara's Akatsuki captors. Beat them up with button mashing, it works just as well against the AI as learning actual combos. Once you’re finished with the story mode there are optional missions to test your skill and grant you access to more characters. If you want to unlock Dedaria and Sasori you have to do a side quest collecting flowers for Shino.
Yes, the story mode bloomed in Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Retsuden 2, while fighting system stem remains dry.
Images courtesy of Tomy. Photo credit Spencer/Siliconera.