|Pub: NAMCO Bandai|
|Release: October 18, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Cartoon Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Being a so-called "franchise player" can have some serious drawbacks. On the one hand, it's great to see characters from your favorite franchises evolve and grow over time. On the other hand, you've got to suffer through a lot of repeated content. Dragon Ball Z fans have suffered through the same content over and over for nearly twenty years, and it looks like Naruto is starting to have the same issue. I'm all for tons of games being released for a single popular property, but they all have to be just a little bit different. And the unfortunate fact is that Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact feels like a stripped-down version of games that already exist.
The game only has one main mode: the story mode. Instead of giving you a semi-open world to explore, you get a static map with different points to select. These points can be special items, dialogue scenes, or actual battles. The format of the game is fairly boring, and doesn't really do much to draw the player in, especially as the game starts up exactly where every other Shippuden game starts up: when Naruto returns to Konoha.
What ensues is the plot of every other Naruto Shippuden game on the market. I think somewhere in the development process, someone realized this; the story just kind of trails off halfway through, and the game expects you to fill in most of the blanks yourself. If you haven't played another Naruto Shippuden game, read the manga, or watched the anime, don't expect to be spoon-fed the story. The game just barely hits the highlights and is anything but exciting. It's also extremely short, so if you're hoping to get anything more than an afternoon's worth of entertainment, you'll be disappointed.
If you strip the game of its lackluster story content, you're left with a pretty generic brawler; the battle system is the same thing that has been featured in essentially every Ultimate Ninja game. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as I do enjoy the format of the Ultimate Ninja battle system, and there have been a few tweaks and new moves added to the overall roster. Though the repetition in the game is a big problem, the battle system is one area where I didn't mind a little déjà vu.
The game also incorporates an RPG-like card system that allows you to outfit specific characters certain power-ups and special moves. As you play through the game's story mode, you can unlock new cards by completing special challenges, which is good if you want to extend the experience. However, if you pride yourself on being a master of the Ultimate Ninja battle system, you probably won't need to go out of your way to get these cards.
Unfortunately, once you've played through the game's story mode there isn't that much more to do. There's a basic mission mode that you can play and replay to improve your score, and there's an ad hoc multiplayer mode. You can also collect character and in-game art. However, if you are looking for substantial post-game content or a bevy of modes to give this thing some replay value, you won't find it here. Even just a basic exhibition or versus mode is missing from the list of features.