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June 13, 2016

Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution (Part 2)

Go read Part 1 to know what’s going on here. You’re gonna need that, unless you’re such a big Naruto geek that you know everything about the series. Even then, the game tweaks some fights left and right to differ from the source material, so I encourage you to read what I wrote in the previous part if you haven’t. You just need to know that it takes place after a tournament and things haven’t quite settled down just yet, the village is recovering from an attack. Alright, so, welcome to this sped-up recap of a part of pre-Shippuden Naruto. Get your goggles, close your mouth, because we’re like on a motorbike and we’ll be going fast enough to eat flies.

Dammit, stop moving! I can't get a single screenshot
that isn't blurry!
Sensei Kakashi Hatake learns that Sasuke Uchiha’s brother Itachi, the one who murdered everyone else in the Uchiha clan (I would gladly explain the whole situation but 4,000 words wouldn’t be enough), is back in the village. Kakashi tries to confront him; in this fight, you can’t defeat Itachi. You need to avoid his attacks and survive until a helper (in this case, Might Guy) comes in to help. When the timer gets to 0, Kakashi and Guy win by default. Itachi escapes, not before implying that he’s chasing down Naruto – and thus, the nine-tailed fox – for yet obscure reasons. Meanwhile, Sasuke learns that Itachi is in the village and confronts him. The ensuing fight is… well, I thought it was simple, and the in-game reason is that all that time, Itachi had just sent a weaker clone to fight Sasuke. Gee, thanks!

Ah, finally you're all standing still!
...Oh no... Oh no, not THAT jutsu.... Oh no...

If nobody was scaled down to be on equal footing,
Itachi would DESTROY Naruto. Hell, Kisame would
destroy Naruto.
The village of Konoha needs a new Hokage, however, so Naruto sets out with Jiraiya to find a person worthy of the title – none other than another legendary ninja, Tsunade. Or, well, they would, but while Jiraiya is busy, ahem, admiring the female figures – let’s just say Pervy Sage is a perfect moniker for him – Naruto hears Sasuke in his fight against Itachi. Naruto runs there to defend his friend, and Jiraiya soon joins, realizing the pretty women were being mind-controlled to be a distraction for him. But Itachi isn’t alone, either; he has Kisame, a fish-man from Kirigakure, and an S-rank rogue ninja (so, a Six Star threat in Grand Theft Auto: Ninja World). You control Jiraiya, helped by Naruto, in this 2-vs-2 fight, but you must defeat Itachi and Kisame AND win without Naruto KOing.

That woman has more power in a single finger than
Naruto and his entire army had at that moment.
Far from there, Orochimaru approaches Tsunade and offers to resurrect two people she loved if she heals his stoned arms. She refuses, so he fights her. Yay, I get to use Orochimaru in a battle! It’s always fun playing the bad guy in games like this. Tsunade loses so she reluctantly agrees. Some time later, Jiraiya and Naruto reach Tsunade and offer her to become Hokage, but she turns down their offer, insulting the role at the same time; in front of Naturo Freaking Uzumaki, that's a big no-no, so he challenges her to a fight. True to the manga and anime, Tsunade has to defeat Naruto with a single finger – or rather, a very powerful move where she uses her finger only. Her attack power is also halved, so you first need to take Naruto’s HP down until it's close to 0 and then do said move, or else you’ll still fail. Even if Tsunade wins, she doesn’t accept just yet, as she instead wants to see Naruto mastering the Rasengan (the energy ball thing, which by that point of the story he didn’t yet know how to use correctly) in seven days. Then she’ll return.

To think Kabuto originally was on the receiving end of that attack.
Say, where's Kabuto anyway? Became an intern? Where?
Under a better villain than Orochimaru? Huh.
Days later, Tsunade goes to see Orochimaru, to seal the deal, but Jiraiya arrives in the nick of time to stop them. He challenges Orochimaru, but since he has been drugged by Tsunade (explaining why he got there late), he isn’t at the best of his abilities; for this fight, Jiraiya’s chakra recharges very slowly, so special moves won’t be used much. After this fight, Orochimaru is still standing, so Naruto gets into a fight with him, and has to defeat Orochimaru with a Rasengan (not just hit him with it, take his HP down to 0 with it. This game sure likes using this as a restriction for its battle missions…). Seeing that Naruto won their bet, Tsunade decides to take the role of Fifth Hokage of Konoha, but Orochimaru just doesn’t want to stay defeated and challenges them again. So the next fight pits Tsunade and Naruto against him, with both of them at half their HP and Tsunade in your control.

Of course, the giant frog does nothing to help.
When that fight is over, the three legendary ninjas (also known as Sannin) decide to take the fight in their own hands, each summoning their emblematic animal; Jiraiya a toad, Tsunade a slug, Orochimaru a snake. Gee Orochimaru, are you compensating for something? Even Voldemort’s Naga wasn’t that big! This time you control Jiraiya in a team with Tsunade, against Orochimaru. And the snake guy goes down for the fourth time. Hey guys, maybe you should try killing him three more times. Just to be sure. After Orochimaru finally admits defeat and goes away, Tsunade finally states to Naruto her choice to become the Fifth Hokage, and while Naruto doesn’t take it well at first, she mellows him by saying that he, too, will become Hokage. And thus Jiraiya, Tsunade and Naruto head back to Konoha, exchanging playful banter.

….End of the Story Mode! Yup, those missions were everything there was to do for the plot in this game. Yeah, I was disappointed too. It felt too quick. By beating the Story Mode, we unlock Kankuro. Yay. Seriously though, this doesn’t even cover one tenth of the full anime. Also, this “Story Mode” leaves out a few secondary characters, such as Shizune or Kabuto. And those were kind of a big deal in the original story, especially Kabuto! The roster also lacks people like Choji, Asuma, Kiba or even Kurenai! We’re getting Diet Naruto, With 25% Less Characters! Meanwhile, Shino got in. The dog guy go not place in the gang, yet the freaky bug guy found his way in? And meanwhile, all three Sand siblings are in it? That’s a pretty poor roster if you ask me. Some characters seem to have been added almost at random or as afterthoughts, and not exactly the ones that were in high demand. Obviously many characters were practically required due to their importance in the plot of the two arcs covered in the Mission Mode, but those that don’t appear at all in these missions? Kinda random. Even Tenten, who’s in a single mission that’s almost more like a minigame, made it in the roster, even though she’s one of the least important female characters of the whole series. Though, hey, free female character, I’m not against that; plus Tenten needs some cred. For some reason, I really like her strategy. “Kill it with every weapon I have on me! Still not enough? Summon more weapons! Still not enough? MORE WEAPONS!” I find this absolutely hilarious. I mean, I know what happened; Over 90% of these characters actually took place in a fight in that tiny portion of the series, and thus they're playable here. That includes Guy and Shino, among other odd choices.

Jesus Guy, don't pick fights with Sannin! What if you
lose? ...Oh, you... won???

Holy shit, Lee got badass!
Thankfully, the game is actually a little longer than that, as there are five additional missions that can be unlocked:
-Might Guy against Naruto and Jiraiya;
-Rock Lee against Neji;
-Naruto against Sasuke;
-Sasuke against Itachi;
-And finally, Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura against Kakashi. They're doing the special anime episode where they try to see under Kakashi's mask!

If you thought the Mission Mode was easy, that’s because it is. There’s a secret difficulty setting set on Easy the first time you play through the mode. Once Mission Mode is beaten, you can go back to Mission Select and pick any of the missions, then change the difficulty (to either Genin, Chunin or Jonin). Nice thing they did with the difficulty settings there, by the way. Although in the end, the Mission Mode allows you to unlock very few characters and modes, and most of the unlocking is done through beating the Single Player mode with many characters on the roster.

Along with the main game, there are three additional mini-games that can be played.
Sakura... Stop getting in the way! The boys are playing.
And you make us lose points!
-Shuriken Throw: Carboard cutouts of Naruto, Sasuke, Kakashi and Sakura pop up on a field, and you must toss shuriken at the Naruto, Sasuke and Kakashi ones. Avoid Sakura at all costs! Naruto and Sasuke give points, but Kakashi tends to stay at a distance so he’s harder to hit.
-Shadow Clone Jutsu: Naruto summons clones and then trades places with some of them, and your task is to follow the real Naruto and toss a kunai at him.
-Rasengan Training: I am terrible at this one. Basically Naruto practices using the Rasengan, so you power up his energy ball by shaking the Wii remote and Nunchuk, then thrusting the Wii remote forward once the ball is complete; thing is, you’re not quite told when it is complete, and the screen never says – outside of a quickly appearing and disappearing symbol – when to thrust. My least favorite mini-game, by far. It doesn't even seem to try to work right, nor does it tell the player precisely what to do.

Unlocking all the characters takes a bit of time, but most of it can be achieved by just playing in Single Player Mode with the characters that are available from the start; also, a character that is unlocked through Single Player mode will sometimes be unlocked by playing said mode with its rival (as an example, Ino is unlocked when you beat the mode as Sakura; beating it as Shikamaru unlocks Temari). What’s also pretty cool is that, at first, of the teenage girls of the series, only Sakura is unlocked, and thus she’s the only one presenting the main menu; however, as you unlock the others (Temari, Ino, Hinata or Tenten), they may take Sakura’s place on the main menu and present it, each with their own voice and personality. That’s really cool. Even better, when you’re at the title screen, one character among those you’ve unlocked so far will be the one stating the game’s title out loud. All 20 characters can say it!

Lastly, the game includes a Watch Mode where you select two characters and they’ll fight, both CPU-controlled, and an Extras section where you can see your game data, how often you used each character and your scores with them on each mode, view the movies unlocked (just cutscenes or trailers, actually), and there’s even a sound test (though to unlock a character’s voices you need to beat Time Attack in record time with that character).

That says everything there was to say about this game. Honestly, I wonder why I didn’t play it more until recently. See, I bought this game in January 2015 and only started getting invested in it for this review. And I’m very happy. You see, there were three reasons why I created this site, Planned All Along: To have something to do; to write about my passion; and to replay through all my games, since that’s what I have to do if I want to review them properly. There’s always been those few games I rarely play, either because some others feel more interesting or simply more fun. And so there are games I leave aside, until I find myself willing to review them, which means I need to play through them. There’s, maybe, two or three of those still in my collection, I guess I just need the motivation to play them. And so far, I haven’t actually been deceived by this.

Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution at first seemed like a standard fighting game with Naruto characters, until I dug a little deeper and found out that it was part of a very large series of fighting games following the Naruto anime, with each installment featuring the characters who take part in battles ina piece of the manga and anime the game represents (as an example, Shino fights Kankuro in the Final Chunin Exams arc, hence why he’s a part of the roster, while Kiba, who was defeated before that point of the story, is absent. Doesn’t explain Tenten, though). As a result, the Mission Mode only follows the few arcs of that game, and of course dumb it down a little to only have the fight-relevant characters; that’s a minor complaint of mine, since characters like Shizune and Kabuto are omitted – and yet, Kabuto becomes EXTREMELY important in Shippuden. To make up for those omitted characters, each one that made it into the roster has the abilities they show before, during and after that part of the story. As an example, Rock Lee can gain a lot of speed and attack power by opening the Gates that exponentially increase his abilities (long story; but he couldn’t do that until after the story arcs shown in this game).

The most iconic moves and techniques can be accessed, as long as you know the button combination or how to activate a particularly strong jutsu with X. Hell, the battle system in this game is amazing. I’m certain I haven’t seen half of everything that can be achieved. The animations mimic very well the events of the series, which makes the battles a treat to watch, even for those who aren’t playing. The cel-shading makes the characters look just like in the anime, so that’s another plus for the game. The stages also re-create the feel of the anime, which is also great. I could just keep saying good things about this game, really.

I personally think the Mission Mode is too short, with only 24 missions, although said missions follow the plot of the “Chunin Exam Finals” and “Search For Tsunade” arcs pretty well (despite the missing characters). It also uses rather limited animation with the characters, and everything is told through text, but thankfully the characters are fully voiced so it’s not much of a bother. I also think the Single Player modes tend to get a little repetitive, with a roster that feels a little small for the task. With only 20 characters, expect to be seeing the same characters over and over. Most unlocking is done through Single Player Mode, so you’ll have to play it quite a bit, but it’s with the Multiplayer options that this game really shines. The concept that the tenth opponent in a character’s Single Player mode being that character’s rival is a pretty cool idea as well. The Time Attack and Survival modes only feel like the normal Single Player modes with some slight changes, so there’s not much there. The Watch Mode, while a nice touch, can feel extraneous. The three mini-games make use of the Wii’s motion sensors, probably the only place where they mattered for me since I played this game with the Classic Controller (and I did try other control methods, but I didn’t like the Wii remote/Nunchuk way; maybe I would be more negative to this game if I couldn’t rely on the Classic Controller…). Even then, those three mini-games also felt like a last-minute addition. Also, the game doesn’t give you any indication about each character, and if you didn’t follow the series you’ll be left to wonder what “Chidori” or “Rasengan” means. New players will miss out on that and be puzzled when missions come requiring exactly those moves to win.

Can I say the special jutsu animations are just awesome?
The game will not please everyone, but for fans of the Naruto series – or for fans of fighting games in general – this is a game to own. I can’t really judge it in comparison to other Clash of Ninja titles, but for the most part I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen. And I am willing to bet I would be even more satisfied if I were to pierce more of this game’s secrets, with the hundreds of moves and nods to the Naruto series that I’ve been missing. I feel it lacks a few things, but overall it gets a strong score from me.

Alright, what’s next week’s game? I really don’t know. I guess I’ll think of something… Hm… I know! We’ll stay in the Japanese culture.