|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Aspect Digital Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: TOMY Corporation||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 26, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
As a huge Naruto fan, I always go into a Naruto-branded video game with a certain level of optimism. Even if early reports say it is of poor quality or not as good as it could have been, I always try and look for the good points, even if the overall game is disappointing. However, as I dove into Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4, I have to say I went in with a little trepidation.
Although I enjoyed the first one for what it was, its linear structure and weird mechanics made it a tough game to enjoy. I was hopeful for the sequel, as the localization time was much faster, and I had hoped that the developers had taken some of the criticism to heart. However, this is not the case with Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4.
As in other Ninja council games, the main story mode allows you to run around a flat 2-D version of Konoha (as well as other locales in the Naruto-verse) and perform various missions as the main characters of the Naruto series. These missions generally entail going through a few platforming areas and then fighting a boss at the end. Though there are a few deviations from this, levels start to feel very formulaic.
However, I can forgive the repetitive and somewhat uninspired gameplay. I mean, when you are making a franchise, you learn what people like and you stick to it. I can appreciate that. What I dont appreciate, however, is how little content there is in this game. Aside from the single-player story mode, there is a multi-cart versus mode and thats it. No online modes, no specific mission modes, not even a mini-game mode! The lack of content in this game is really its weakest point, and I was very disappointed with how little this game had to offer.
And, in further disappointment, the main story mode isnt even that good. The story takes you through the beginning of the Shippuden saga, which is fine, but I take issue with the simplicity and the responsiveness of the controls. Honestly, the levels are just way too simple. There is a fine line between making something accessible for younger players (which I feel that the other Naruto games were) and just being bland. Nearly every stage has the same sort of structure. Run and jump across platforms, ride elevators, avoid traps, and, of course, attack the NPCs. There is little to no variation, and after awhile I felt like I could play this game blindfolded. However, it was the controls that really kept me from the game.
The controls in Ninja Council 4 are pretty much the worst in the series. The controls are slow, and the battle system just doesnt work. The game uses a standard button configuration for most actions, like running around with the D-pad and using the A button for jumping and the Y button for striking. However, the problem is that the game makes it very difficult to do two things at once (like jumping AND striking), and when enemies hang out on platform edges, this can become a real obstacle.