Designed with ad-hoc multiplayer in mind, Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive has some common elements with Capcom’s Monster Hunter series. But, really it’s more like Dynasty Warriors with characters from the Narutoverse.
Before I challenged any tailed beasts (they’re the bosses in Kizuna Drive) via the mission menu, I ran through one of the game’s earlier missions with Kakashi. In addition to punches and kicks, the Copy Ninja has Lightning Blade and Kamui (the Mangekyo Sharingan dimension warp). The ninja I fought didn’t put up much of a fight. They waited for Kakashi to pull up his headband and stood in place when Kakashi revealed his deadly red eye. Afterwards, they were even kind enough to wait for Kakashi to recover. Using Kamui stuns Kakashi for a second or two.
That’s not the most powerful attack in Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive. Stun an enemy and you can send the helpless foe into a Kizuna Drive. This team attack has the four-man cell you created pass the enemy around like a hot potato. You can keep knocking the enemy back and forth for extra damage, but if you miss you’ll take a heavy hit. There’s a little bit of a risk/reward relationship, but the damage you deal tends to be so much its worth the risk. Kizuna Drives are finished with a custom squad attack.
When they’re not in a Kizuna Drive, your three computer controlled allies will automatically attack other ninja and revive you, at the expense of some energy from the meter in the middle, if you’re down. Characters are classified as attack, support, and recovery. The latter being essential for a mission, but since Hinata and the like don’t do as much damage they’re harder to use in single player mode.
Feeling ready, I played one of the S+++ ranked missions with a staff member from Namco Bandai. We decided to fight Shukaku with Naruto, Neji, Yamato, and Hinata. The mission began with similar nameless ninja, but their hits were harder this time around. Trapped by invisible walls, we clobbered the group and another (and another after that) before reaching Shukaku. The one-tailed beast was huge and mainly attacked by swinging its tail. Its size was, in a way, its downfall because Shukaku wasn’t very mobile. I ran behind Shukaku and kept hitting him with Giant Rasengans until he knocked me away with his tail. By then I was usually out of chakra, so I charged up and tried to find where Hinata set a recovery tag to restore my HP. Over a dozen Giant Rasengans later and Shukaku, well the false Shukaku, was defeated.