Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review #95: Naruto Powerful Shippuden

 Ain't nothing powerful about this one.
 Naruto is a popular franchise, so popular that it spawned it's own spin off, Rock Lee and his friends. So popular in fact, that the spin off spawned a video game of it's own, developed by Inti Creates, the people that developed Megaman Zero and ZX, sadly, the result is not as stellar.
 The game lets you play as either Naruto or Rock Lee, you'll have to play as both in order to progress however, and it more or less follows the story up to the Pain arc, with a couple of extra stages featuring latter events. Regardless, it's a very loose retelling, in a more "humorous" fashion, however, it falls flat on it's face most of the time. Gags are very formulaic, usually one of the boys will act in a ridiculous manner and one of the girls will explain why it's supposed to be funny, but it's not and rarely ever is. This is supposed to take after the Japanese humor routine of the "Funny guy" and "Serious guy", the girls always taking the Serious guy's place and the boys the Funny guy's, but the game is rarely ever funny. There's a lot of crossdressing humor and the kind of jokes they'd pull on filler episodes to retain their younger audience. Still, there are a couple of jokes that might make you smile, but they don't make up for the rest of the game.
 This is a more or less straight forward action game, you have your standard life bar and energy bar(Chakra), and you get your typical attack, jump and block buttons. If you press block right before getting hit, you'll actually dodge the attack, at the cost of some Chakra, and there are a couple of unblockable moves that must be dodged this way. The X Button serves as the special attack that consumes a little chakra, pressing it on it's lonesome executes an special attack, but stringing it during weak attack combos produces different effects, like a pop up or a knock down attack. You also get Super Moves, like the Rasengan that are pulled of by pressing Block and Special at the same time, and these cost a little more Chakra, both Lee and Naruto also have access to special forms that boost their stats. Finally, you can bring up to three support characters, when allowed to, with you that have their own unique attacks and effects.
 First, let's go over the good things about the gameplay, experience points. Beating each stage grants you Experience Points, and before each stage you can actually take "Personal Challenges", there's about six per stage, but you can only attempt one per go, that multiply the experience points gained, and there is no penalty for failing them. Now, these experience points can be spent on a pretty nice variety of parameters, be it your level(raises HP and attack power), resistance to status effects(Poison, paralyzed, etc), skills or even one-time use bonuses. Even better, you can reallocate points however you see fit, except the ones you spent on one-time use, those are gone for good.
 As for the bad... the game is incredibly repetitive. They tried to alleviate it with different kinds of stages, there's the straightforwards go right and beat anything on your path stages, as well as "defeat every enemy" survivals, stages in which you must find a certain number of a certain item or find a certain number of certain enemy and defeat it, but they all feel very, very repetitive. Even though Rock Lee and Naruto have different storylines, the stages feel very samey between both characters. What adds to the repetition is the combat itself. You see, human enemies like to dodge or block a lot of your attacks, so you have to wear down their Chakra, by forcing them to Dodge until they run out of Chakra, this doesn't make the gameplay any tougher or deeper, it just makes really slow and boring, it isn't even all that hard, just tedious. The game is at it's best during boss fights, as the draining the enemy's Chakra does make sense then, and it's much more fun against this one, tougher opponent. And you'd better enjoy them, as there is a total of 6 stages for each Boss: The original stage, a Harder version, Easy and Hard Boss Challenge versions for Naruto and Easy and Hard Boss Challenge versions for Rock Lee. Did I mention that missions feel very samey? They do.
 The game's best feature, by far, are the graphics. Animation is pretty smooth and charming, and the characters look impossibly cute. The style they used for the sprites makes them look as if they were ripped straight from a TV show, this game is pure eye-candy, plus, turning the 3D on doesn't affect the framerate in the slightest. Sound is alright, music is the usual filler music they use for this kind of licensed games, and each character has a couple of voiced lines, and that's about it.
 The game lasts a solid 6 hours for the core content, then you unlock Endless Battle(Read: Infinite Boss Rush) and the Boss Challenge stages for both Rock Lee and Naruto, clearing these unlock a couple of newer stages. There is plenty of content in the game, it's a shame it's such a drag to unlock it, and not worth it, as the game is not much fun. As with most games that look pretty, the gameplay is pretty lame, unless you are a hardcore Naruto fan, just skip this one altogether.
 4.0 out of 10

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