The orange and black is back on the attack.
Hey, you! Do you dream of slaying the same faceless ninja over and over again? How about taking out a few hundred Naruto clones (which made me very, very happy to do) and finishing up by fighting Sakura, Naruto's pink-haired and loud little friend, or his best "friend" Sasuke? Is it your passion to push the same two buttons over and over again, only to be occasionally knocked down and have to press a third? Well, never fear, young whippersnapper!
Dynasty Warriors Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact is here!
There are days when I dislike being the guy who's always asking for portable games. Enough times I get something I didn't expect I'd enjoy, like Henry Hatsworth or Dream Trigger 3D, but just as often I'm the "lucky" one who gets games, like Invizimals and Dragon Ball Evolution. (To be honest, I requested DE because I was curious about how it compared to the movie. SPOILER: Also not good.)
So this time, I'm at least grateful it's not quite as disappointing as my previous sadnesses. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate NInja Impact is a story with people surviving, characters dying, and drastic measures being taken to keep the world in order and peaceful… though if you're actually interested in the story, you already know what happens. These games tend to be like that.
Controlling Naruto and his companions is interesting as they all have a unique feel to their fighting style. Naruto is simple to pick up and pound buttons, while his master Jiriya is more the "I'm a slow, old man" pound-and-pray type with better range and power, but not great at stringing together beatdowns. Everyone will obviously find their favorites, but what's annoying is the lack of choice. Because of the story structure, Sakura has to be used at certain points, and Naruto has to be used in others. I understand that's necessary to progress through the story appropriately, but I would love the option to go back and play through previous stages with different characters… and that's not an option. Gunning for high scores on certain stages is thereby limited, which is a shame.
As far as the aesthetic goes, it's impressive how many characters will show up on-screen. The numbers did overwhelm me a few times in battle, but just seeing probably 25 or 30 different baddies all clustered around (and different types of baddies) made me pound the circle button ever faster. A few of the environments are bland standard fare, but a few spots were stand-out; having a gigantic enemy against a rural city backdrop showed some character.
All the characters are voiced throughout the game, though it's disappointing that there still isn't any animation. With a game based on a popular anime, why aren't there any clips? Or at least anything to indicate the story is going on beyond two stationary figures "standing" right next to each other having a conversation? Moreover, that conversation should be a backdrop to the fact that one of them is being killed, but no, they're involved in an oh-so-civil chat. Could you imagine what a "civil" conversation would be if Eve and Aya Brea sat for a cup or tea, or if Pyramid Head and anyone else were playing croquet? To be blunt, it's unnatural.
I've been harsh on Naruto games in the past, but they didn't deserve kindness. That was due to the ugly visuals, broken mechanics, and just a ton of pixilated ninja stars to the face of quality. This time, there doesn't seem to be too much wrong… just a lot of average. And that's okay. Many, many licensed games have been far less than okay. Anyone remember Xena: Warrior Princess on purpose? How about the love you felt for Superman 64?
There are other modes beyond the initial story mode, but they're really just more of the same. In addition to the main modes, there are "Extra Missions" and "Tag Missions" to blow time on. The "Tag Missions" are just that: missions where you have a partner and need to beat another team. That's all they are, just occasionally-random teams to beat the living hell out of with your random team. Unless you're sick of slaying hundreds of weak and faceless bastards, you can fight a small group of more powerful, recognizable characters.
Then there are the "Extra Missions", which is what you would expect—more missions in the same vein as the storyline. Fight a certain amount of ninja, reach certain points on the map, and solve for "x" in a set period of time. The "Tag Missions" can be played with a friend, but even without any friends (you poor lonely bastards), playing with a computer tag partner is a possibility. They're stupid, but they keep alive long enough.
Part of me wants to really praise Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact for not being what the Naruto fighting games have been, and part of me wants to just play Dynasty Warriors. If you're into the story, then I guess this is your best bet. It's button-mashy, but thankfully not as much so as previous titles have been. For everybody else, if you already have this game with a different skin, you're not missing much.
Copy provided by publisher.