|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: TOMY||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 15, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 is a classic example of an anime-inspired game branching out into a genre it doesnt really fit with. Anyone who is familiar with the franchise knows that it is all about action, which is why the Ultimate ninja series is such a great fit. Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 tries very hard to create a successful Naruto RPG, and, to its credit, there are a lot of things that this title does well. However, there is nothing here that will stand out either, which is quite a shame.
The story in Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 is completely separate from the regular Naruto mythos and takes place sometime after the Sasuke retrieval arc. It revolves around a village in the aptly titled Valley of Evil, where an evil spirit has been let loose. In order to thwart the impending evil, Naruto and Co. will have to gather magic mirrors. If this sounds a little hokey to you, trust me, you are not alone. The story never quite develops into anything substantial, and by the middle of the game, it is hard to remember that there even is a story tying all these events together.
One major issue I had with the story in Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 was the lack of character development. Any RPG fan will tell you that character development is an essential facet of RPG gameplay, and even though some amount of character familiarity is assumed, you never really see the different character personalities throughout the game. The usually-spunky Naruto and coy Shikamaru are reduced to two-dimensional characters who only rely on occasional catchphrases to make them likable.
Because most people who play this title will probably already be Naruto fans, the game is packed full of old and new characters from throughout the series that you can encounter and add to your three-man squad. All the regulars are here, including Sakura, Rock Lee, and Chouji. You can even swap out Naruto himself if you want, which is a nice option, allowing for a little bit of power balancing strategy.
The battle system in Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 is a simple, menu-based RPG format. All characters will have standard attack and defense commands, and each one will have specific Jutsu moves that use up chakra and take advantage of the characters unique abilities. You are also able to equip certain characters with special attacks and defenses that you discover during your journeys. Although there are quite a few abilities and skills to be equipped, the battle system doesnt have much depth, and, as a result, battles are rarely difficult or memorable (as long as youve done the required leveling-up.) The whole system feels very familiar, and anyone who has ever played a turn-based RPG will be able to dive right into this one with few problems.
However, sometimes the game deviates from the standard RPG format and dives into little platforming mini-games. Normally, these would be okay, but here they just feel a little weird. For instance, one of the early levels requires you to go through a speed cave where you have to jump around catching scrolls and avoid enemy bats. The level sort of springs up on you out of nowhere, and it is hard to adjust from the easygoing RPG feel of the game to a level where your character is constantly running and you have to execute several timed button presses to pass.
One aspect of this title that is definitely a little unexpected is the online functionality. The game lets you take certain matches online and play against different ninja clans from around the world. The matches themselves are a little boring, as you can imagine. Because the battle system in Naruto is so simple, it is hard to develop strategies against non-A.I. opponents, and most battles feel won or lost due to chance more than strategic outmatching. However, the online mode is very inviting due to the fact that it is not friend-locked, which automatically makes it worth checking out.