Quite fun to watch it all again. Not having to wait for a new episode each week makes it more fun to blast through the arcs, and even the fillers are a lot more enjoyable this way.
We’re now in season 4 of Shippuden already (never saw more than the first half of season 1 back when it was released), and other than an in my opinion very weak season 2 it’s a good laugh. I do notice it’s starting to suffer more from some consistency problems here and there and Dragonball Z style glaring contests, but I suppose that’s inevitable after so many episodes.

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja

Console: Playstation 2
No. of Players: 2 (1 Scenario and Mission Mode / 2 Versus Mode)
Genre: Fighting
Developer: CyberConnect2
Release Date: June 26, 2006
Released By: Namco Bandai Games America
Rating: Teen

Story 70/100

The similarities between Dragon Ball Z and Naruto continue their eternal quest for noob, and veteran alike, fan superiority on the Playstation 2. Naruto: Ultimate Ninja is the second Naruto video game released in America (and eventually Europe), and it’s packing a punch; however, when it comes to story that punch could have been delivered a bit better. It seems the makers of this game merely copied the format of the Dragonball Z Budokai games and slapped Naruto right over.

Fan who played Dragonball Z Budokai will see immediate similarities in this game, especially when it comes to story; unfortunately, I would have to say that Dragon Ball Z wins in this department.

We all know the concept of fighting like this. We’ve seen it done in many fighting games based off anime series. Story Mode is usually the weakest mode of the games; usually just filled with battles that loosely tie into the original story of the anime. Completing Story Mode usually rewards you, the player, with a few extra characters that were hidden before. And while many games can do this and still feel like a decent investment of forty or fifty bucks, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja does not. Mainly for two basics reasons: story, or scenario mode as it is called in this game, is too short and there are too few characters to unlock.

When you go into Scenario Mode you are allowed to pick one character, and you will play through this character’s saga. Sounds exciting huh? Well it would fun if it wasn’t just six, or sometimes even five, battles. It goes by so quickly! The first time when I saw “Kakashi Saga: Completed” I was like, “Are you joking!” The scenario mode ends just when it starts to get good. Of you are allowed to go back and do the mode again, but there’s no point to by then. As you complete certain sagas you will unlock other hidden characters’ scenarios, completing those scenarios will unlock those characters. It’s all very simple and fun, but short.

If you are a fan of the series you’ll realize soon enough that the game only goes up to and around the 30+ episode or the 4-6 volume of the manga. For a series in the hundreds in terms of episodes, that’s kind of disappointing. However, players that have played Dragon Ball Z Budokai I, II, III or Tenkashi will remember that Dragon Ball Z Budokai (I) only went up to the Freiza Saga, it took the next three installments for the game series to catch up with the anime. Hopefully the developers will cut the time in half. For a series known for strong character personalities 12 characters is some what disappointing.

Gameplay 80/100
Naruto Ultimate Ninja - Screenshot 1
Gameplay in Naruto: Ultimate Ninja is a cross between the Budokai games and Super Smash Brothers. You’ll be fighting on the traditional 2-Dimensional fighting screen with the ability to instantly move to another side to avoid attacks. Like Super Smash Brothers there will be random items that will randomly appear in during your battle. These items can either increase your speed, attack, or slow your opponent down. There are also other items that give you a new ninja tool (usually a Sharingan) to use or allow your support character to enter the game and do damage to your opponent for a few moments—weird thing is half of the support characters aren’t even in the game.

Any fan of the Naruto series now’s the bulk of anyone’s attack is their chakra and jutsu techniques. In this game each characters comes with special jitsu moves that they alone can master.

Yes, your button-smashing skills will come in hand in this game. There are a hand-full of combos you’ll want to master as they are easy to pull off like Zabuza’s Water Prison Jutsu. However, other than that it’s button smashing. You’ll have a basic attack button (square), which you’ll have to use to attack. With that said you’ll be using combos to take down your enemies. Once you’ve charged up enough chakra you’ll be able unleash your jutsu attacks. Which range from 1level techniques to 3 level techniques that can provide devastating damage to your opponent. You’ll have to keep an eye on your chakra as special techniques consume it and if you don’t have any you’ll be out of luck. Not to worry you can charge.

Special Techniques are unleashed by releasing your charka and then attack the opponent. You must land an attack or else your special technique will be voided. Now that you’ve started the process of your special jutsu technique you can take it to the next step. In the left corner of the screen during your jutsu technique scene you will see a command window if you press all the buttons listed (they won’t change, so once you will learn them it will become much easier) you will continue your technique or inflict more damage. It’s good if you’re in a tight spot as fully completing your jutsu can do massive damage.

One interesting that I like about the gameplay is the approach to items. Each stage comes with a bunch of items but you can also bring some into battle. After every stage you will be scored and you will receive ryo (currency) that you can exchange for items. Now these items varry from sharingans to an invisiblity talisman. Once you purchase them they are in your inventory and you are free to bring them out in any battle. This is cool and could help you when you most need. So thumbs up there Naruto!

Now like most fighting games it really comes down to preference with characters. Most attacks do the same amount of damage and the same can we said for some special techniques. It’s all about how you play. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses, for example: Gaara is terribly slow but he has the ability to break an opponent’s block or shield himself from almost all attacks. So it all depends on how you play.

Overall the game play is decent, but the game doesn’t offer anything different from all the others. The game is pretty much like all the others. And for gamers that have been playing the same thing for so long it’s boring, well maybe that’s me. Still the game was pretty fun to play. What could have made this game better would be, of course the obvious, more characters and maybe the ability to learn more jetsu. Oh well it looks like we’ll just have to wait for Naruto II.

Graphics 85/100
Naruto Ultimate Ninja - Screenshot 2
The graphics borrow heavily on the manga version of Naruto, more so than the anime. Although there are screen shots of the anime shown throughout the game. The majority of the little bit of dialog that’s presented in the game is done in 2D with a dialog box below. Not that the characters are really saying much, but still it would have been nice to see some actual dialog and not just random lip moments that are supposed to relate to the dialog below.

The graphics during actual fighting uses a unique type of shading that makes it look as if the characters are drawn. The most obvious is the dark lines that resembles a shadow in the manga. And other than that it’s pretty standard, except your jutsu moves which can be unleashed which will result in a cutscene. The cutscenes are of the characters’ most famous moves in the series.

Controls N’ Camera 75/100

The controls are pretty standard. You have one button for attacking is defaulted as the “O” button. Combos are released by certain combinations of the directional buttons and the “O” button. It can become pretty complex depending on what combo you want to use. Mid-way through you’ll probaby master a couple of combos and won’t need to learn any others as smashing the “O” button usually does the trick.

To unleash your chakra you’ll press the Triangle-Button and for a couple of minutes your character will be glowing (different colors depending on the amount of chakra used), you’ll have to land an attack if you wish to do the secret technique.

A lot of the battle really requires a quick response, because many times you’ll be able to counter the opponents move or land a deadly attack. However as fast pace as the battle are there still isn’t anything refreshing about it. It all seems so done already. With hardly any difference to games like Tekken and Bodukai don’t expect to be blown away by anything. The same can be said for the camera. Pretty much the same old same old thing. *sigh*

Personal Thoughts

I was really excited to get this game; however, when I was finished playing it I was disappointed. The fact that I was able to finish it in so short a time is partly why I am so dissapointed. Don’t get me wrong the game was a fun game to play but it wasn’t any different from the other fighting games that I’ve played. It’s another game that just fans would like, and don’t get me wrong I’m a fan, I just force myself to think objectively.

Basically when you boil it down the only thing this game had good for was the fact that it was Naruto. If this was just another fighting game it would have bombed. Gameplay was standard, story mode was pathetic, there were too few characters and overall you finished it in a very short time with little to show for it.

But there is light at the end of this tunnel hopefully, if there will be another Naruto game for the Playstation or any other console for that matter, it will fix the mistakes of this one and surpass our wildest dreams.

Overall Score 75/100

By Cherubim


NARUTO by Masashi Kishimoto:
genre: shounen/action/comedy
characters: 8/10
story: 6/10
art: 7/10
overall: 7/10

(reviewer’s note: This is based on the first 5 books) of the manga which means that a few months from now, this will probably be edited, if not completely re-written.)
– Serialised in Shounen Jump
– Series ongoing
– Licensed by Viz under Shounen Jump
STORY: (Reviewer’s note: In doing research for this review, I discovered that Naruto is indeed far more popular than I had feared which means that about 1 out of every 3 people who will read this will probably be offended at some point or other. Please forgive me and remember that this is a review which means that it’s based on what the reviewer thinks. Please also take into consideration the fact that this is the first ever very-undeniably-shounen manga review done by a very shoujo person so I’m just trying my best. Thanks.)

Many years ago, the mountain village of Konoha was devastated by a nine-tailed demon. To destroy it, the village gathered ninjas together to battle the demon and in the end, one ninja, known as the Fourth Hokage, gave up his life to seal away the powers of the fox demon within a young boy: Uzumaki Naruto. Naruto, a boisterous pest with a good heart who dreams to someday be Hokage, the strongest ninja in the village. After nearly failing his pre-ninja exams, he is set in a team with Uchiha Sasuke, his number one rival, and Haruno Sakura, his number one crush (being that HE has a crush on HER) to fufill tasks set by their mysterious, but amusing, training master Hatake Kakashi. But unbeknownst to his team, minus Kakashi (who really isn’t on the team anyway, but who wants to get technical?), Naruto’s a lot stronger and fated for much more than his big mouth lets on.

How many times have we seen this? Boy of not-so-appealing personality has amazing strength that only those priviledged few know of, but meanwhile, he gets tossed into a lot of situations where he can fight and practice some really interesting logic while he struggles to reach the goal of being the best. Naruto is one of those slow-fast series. The main storyline moves slow, hindered by an abundance of characters, who make up for the fast and furious action scenes. Kishimoto, however, balances the fast and the slow rather well, so there’s not much time for boredom, minus the few times that the dialogue just gets garbly and leaves the reader with their mouth hanging open hoping that maybe the addresse will punch the addresser just to spice things up. The one thing so far that sets Naruto apart from other standard shounen series about being “the best(!!!)” is the amount of drama that Kishimoto tosses in. The amounts of angst are almost enough to satisfy a shoujo manga. Don’t get me wrong though – this is not Neon Genesis Evangelion. Yet, while this setup has been seen a million times and then some in the anime.manga world, Naruto is strangely addictive. This is to be blamed upon the humour, which ranges from the usual perverted humour (Kakashi reading his “Make-Out Paradise” – or “Come Come Paradise” depending on your translator – novels is probably my favorite.) to you usual simply insulting the other party humour, as well as the strange diversity of the cast. It’s these two factors that really keep this series alive and kicking….no pun intended.
CHARACTERS: (there are approximately 123 more characters than mentioned but here are the main heroes of the story)

– Uzumaki Naruto: A hyper, happy go lucky, loud, annoying but goodhearted ninjutsu student and failure as a person in the eyes of villagers who ignore him because of the demon that is within him. But against all odds, he pursues his dream of becoming Hokage, unaware that he’s destined for much more than he can imagine. He’s like a young Soichirou Nagi (from Tenjyou Tenge), really, and yes, righteously annoying, but eventually lovable. He’s very devoted when it comes to his friends. He’s got a major thing for Haruno Sakura, while he’s at it all….

– Uchiha Sasuke: The top student of Konoha’s Ninjutsu Academy. Being a loner who has all the right bishounen looks makes him the undisputed target of all the girls in the Academy’s affections, Haruno Sakura included. But Sasuke’s mind is far from girls as he strives to reach his own goal of avenging the horrible murders of his clan. Sasuke, like Naruto, his “main rival, has a great amount of untapped power, but he is more aware of his capabilities than Naruto.

– Haruno Sakura: A conflicted, emotional, generally quite messed up, but friendly kunoichi in training. Sakura’s usually putting on a front, allowing her “inner Sakura” to display her true feelings and judgements. She is weak in ninjutsu, but, of the three, has the best control over her chakra. Though the owner of a brilliant mind which comes in handy for written things, she is often blinded from peforming her best by Sasuke, with whom she is completely enamoured.

– Hatake Kakashi: The teacher (jounin) in charge of the Naruto/Sasuke/Sakura team. He is the sole Konoha possessor of a powerful eye which allows his to “see” things in battle. Known quite well in the world of ninjas, he is rumoured to have copied 1000 jutsus as well as never allowed anyone to become a genin. When not on the battefield or training the team, Kakashi is laid-back and somewhat cheerful, but he is a huge believer in teamwork and determination.

Shounen art for a shoujo.image junkie is the complete end of the spectrum and in many cases, very hard to stand. In the case of Naruto, the artwork is no more brilliant than Dragonball Z. Sweaty bodies, lots of blood, snotty noses, mangled faces….Kishimoto does not hold back in showing the goriest of gore and ugliest of ugly. Being that it’s an action manga, there are plenty of fight scenes, but the actions seem stiff on paper instead of fliud, like a ninja’s should be. There’s nothing very particular about the artwork in general and the focus is more on story than art. However, when taking into concern how Kishimoto uses his artwork to tell the story, it is a very different matter. His panels are well placed to reflect the emotion of the scene at hand (example: Naruto yelling at a “bad guy” in book 4 after their big battle.) and though his drawings don’t emote as well as his storytelling, it certainly tries well, but serves its purpose as best it can.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS (highlight whited out areas for spoilers): The overwhelming popularity of Naruto kept me from getting into it for a while. All those pairings you see everywhere….sigs all over forums. Just….overwhelming. What first got me thinking that I should give it a chance, surprisingly, was the gorgeous first ending song “Wind”, which a friend graciously played for me. I drove down home for Thanksgiving from my university with said friend and the only reading material he had was Naruto, so I decided…why not? How bad could it be?

I’m glad I gave it a chance. While Naruto is not my favorite manga ever and probably never will be, the story is much more intriguing than I had expected. The battles are intense and I’m not totally fond of Kishimoto’s characters’ logic. But at least they’re thinking. While I had expected myself, the shoujo lover, to be drawn to Sasuke, the obvious bishounen, as my favorite character, I found myself enjoying the character of Kakashi far more (and even more so that little dog he summons in the 4th (or 3rd…can’t remember anymore) that hangs off of Zabuza’s badge) while Sasuke, to me, is this…weird little boy. Another surprise for me in Naruto was the amount of angst and emotion that Kishimoto puts into his work. Haku’s death and when Naruto yells at Zabuza about it until Zabuza is crying was actually quite touching. It’s not something I had expected to find in Naruto.

As I wait for the next few books to come out, I’m expecting a lot of page skipping with myself only in the part where they’re about to enter some forest o’ doom or other. I was never one who could stand artless action scenes, or perhaps I’m just too used to the balletic grace of Tenjyou Tenge’s battles. But this is a story that keeps you wanting to know what’s going to happen next. It’s addictive. No wonder it’s so popular. Who knows, perhaps this self-spoken shoujo girl will even learn to love her first strictly shounen series since Dragonball Z (And yes, I loved that manga until it was totally ripped apart by American publication.). We’ll see and I’m certainly looking forward to it.

SHOUNEN JUMP (VIZ) EDITION ADDITIONS: With the exception of some censored bits (i.e. the changing of Kakashi’s book titles to something less…suggestive, perhaps), change of dialogue from something that used to make sense to extreme loud pointless ( It’s a fact that” I’m going to defeat you!!” sound so dumb all the time? So why do they insisting on changing pretty much every 5th line to that, if not an elliptical version?), and some power yelling differences ( Apparently, “Valentine’s Technique” was changed from “Mind Transfer Technique”, with the latter making much more sense.) the editing it pretty well done. It’s just a pity that dialogue had to be skewed to make it more “action appealing”, I guess it would be called.

Undeniably, the most annoying part of the Viz publication is the little arrow that reminds the reader every 3 pages or so to read from right to left with its “Read this way” message. With that tiny arrow requiring a giant blank space at the top of the page to accompany it, the panels have probably all been shrunk to accomdate it and it’s very distracting from both story and artwork.

By kiyo-chan

Naruto – Sasuke Uchiha

Naruto: Gaara of the Sand

Naruto’s Kakashi

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.