Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 PS2

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja for the PS2 is the latest in a long list of Naruto games that has only just arrived recently on UK shores, despite the Japanese being on the fifth iteration of this series. Developed by CyberConnect2 (don’t worry, I haven’t heard of them either) the team behind Naruto: Ultimate Ninja we start where the previous game left off and continue to delve deeper into the Naruto universe meeting a wealth of new characters who are all ready to fight to the death for their way of the ninja!

Mighty Hokage?

The game kicks off with a low key level of presentation that takes enough from the Naruto universe to look at home here. Navigation is easy enough and everything looks as you would expect it to without anything to shout home about. It’s also worth noting that fans of the Japanese voice acting will be bombarded right from the get go by the god awful English voices. Thanks.

As far as graphics are concerned Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 looks alright but it’s really nothing special. In fact in places it can look a little bland, which is a crime for a cel-shaded game. The problem is it probably wouldn’t have looked so bad had we not seen how capable the PS2 is of producing good cel-shading in other games such as Okami. The world of Naruto is a rich and vibrant one but this isn’t the case here. Unfortunately the game’s problems don’t stop there.

Playing Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 is quite frankly, frustrating. The control scheme is overly complicated and the pace of the game slow. The pace can pick up thanks to the inclusion of teleportation but once things get going they are usually slowed right back down again thanks to the special moves that simply have the user press a sequence of buttons to a cutscene. Depending on how much energy or “charka” your user has saved up before executing this move depends on how many special moves your character will perform. One of the main issues with this (aside from already disrupting the action) is that after each one it fades to black, now this isn’t too bad when you are hit with just one and go back to the fight but when your opponent reels off three in a row they just do not convey the pace that a mid fight cutscene should have. Items are quite prevalent in Naruto which compliments the game’s “generic anime fighter” feel quite well and if used properly can turn a fight around, adding depth to the fighting to make it a bit more interesting. Another downside of the combat is each fighter’s lack of combos and uniqueness. Apart from the special moves (which are all executed the same way) most of the characters all feel like the same person, there are exceptions such as Kankuro the puppet master who fights using puppets and a few others but that’s a handful from a list of about 30 plus. As usual for fighting games these days it has a multiplayer accommodating the astronomical figure of two players which plays exactly like fighting the computer.

As previously mentioned, the English dubbed voices of Naruto are not viewed pleasantly by this reviewer, however if there is anyone out there who likes them then you’re in for a treat as the whole cast is on board. Lucky you. The music overall isn’t too bad with a few nods to the show here and there but a large amount of it fails to convey the level of intensity the fights should be conveying. A large part of why the series fights are so intense is because of the stellar music and that unfortunately is absent.

Just a lowly Genin!

Overall I can’t help but be disappointed by Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2. Having played and loved Dragonball Z Budokai 3 to death many years ago it’s a shame to see anime fighters going backwards. Bonus points for staying true to the anime storyline and including a healthy chunk of characters to play around with but overall the combat is basic, lacks polish, pace and visual flare.

Only for die hard fans of Naruto who are bound to their PS2s.

5.0 out of 10