After a two year break from 2D side scrolling Naruto games, Tomy decided to bring the Saikyou Ninja Daikesshu back to its roots. The big difference is you play with the grown up cast of characters from Naruto Shippuden. Naruto Shippuden: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 5 takes place during the Rescue Gaara arc where you chase after Deidara and Sasori. However, you end up doing the same kinds of things in the Game Boy Advance games: punching bats, throwing kunai at mindless ninja and jumping over bottomless pits. At the end of each level you get a chance to prove your strength to Kakashi and duke it out with Deidara during boss fights, but the meat of story mode is platforming.
Unfortunately, Naruto Shippuden: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 5 isn’t going to get any points for originality. The levels are as basic as you can get with a few touches from the Naruto universe. At the expense of a little chakra, you can make Naruto run up some walls and teleport behind enemies. Also you don’t explore stages alone, like the series you are part of a three man cell. After the intro level you have five playable characters: Naruto, Sakura, Lee, Neji and Kakashi. Each of the main characters starts off with a single special move. Naruto has the Naruto Rendan, Neji can use the Kaiten and Sakura has an earth erupting ground punch. At the end of each stage you earn currency, which you can spend to unlock new moves like Naruto’s Odama Rasengan. Since you’re in a three man squad you can call upon your two partners to aid you by touching their pictures on the bottom screen. Sakura is the most useful assistant character because she can heal you. Basically putting her on your team means you get free health regeneration. Kakashi is probably next most useful character. Once he learns the Lightning Blade he is effective against bosses.
It’s a good thing that Tomy added in a character development system because Naruto Shippuden: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 5 is short, 10 side scrolling levels short. You can beat the story mode the first day you get it, but fans will probably replay the stages to unlock additional characters like Tsunade, Shikamaru, Itachi and the sound siblings. If you go back and collect everything you might be able to squeeze out fifteen hours of single player gameplay and that is a generous overstatement.
Most of the replay value in Naruto Shippuden: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 5 comes from the Wi-Fi battle mode, which is similar to Naruto: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 4 (aka Naruto: Ninja Council 3 outside of Japan). The large 2D arenas allow up to four players to fight simultaneously. There aren’t any combos to learn or tricks to master. The most complex move is pressing the same button, three times. The key to winning fights is to use hit and run tactics. A gray rock randomly pops up and it acts like a POW block. When you punch it the other characters freeze into place and you can use your single jutsu to hit them. Using a jutsu completely depletes your chakra and it doesn’t regenerate on its own. You need to stand still and spin the wheel on the touch screen to charge your chakra. Rinse, repeat and maybe win if lag is in your favor. The online mode is definitely a nice addition and probably the strongest selling point for Naruto Shippuden: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 5. However, it also feels extremely basic when compared to Bleach: The Blade of Fate or Jump Ultimate Stars.
On the plus side, the easy difficulty level makes Naruto Shippuden: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 5 an easy import and there are only a few Japanese menus to navigate through. I imagine the biggest difficulty importers may have is figuring out which special attack they are unlocking. The quick rule is if it’s 1,000 it’s an older attack, the 3,000 point skills tend to be the time skip jutsus. The exception is Neji who has the Hakke Kusho as his 1,000 point attack; the Hakke Rokujuyon Sho is unlocked by spending 3,000 points.
After a weekend with Naruto Shippuden: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 5 I’m done with it and I doubt I’ll play it again. Hardcore fans who don't own Jump Ultimate Stars might think otherwise, but Naruto Shippuden: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshuu 5 probably isn't worth your money. Save it for something more engaging than this.