GC

North America

Naruto: Clash of Ninja

by Karl Castaneda - March 27, 2006, 6:49 pm PST
Total comments: 14

7

One time this kid dropped his fork, and a ninja totally killed his whole village. BELIEVE IT!

As a long-time reader of the manga, Naruto: Clash of Ninja appealed to me not only because I'd heard such great things about its sequels, but also because it seemed like a great chance to throw down with some of my favorite characters. And true enough, the game delivers in that respect, with fan-favorites like Rock Lee, Sasuke, and Kakashi taking the front stage. Unfortunately, the lack of content is what drowns what could have been a stellar fighting title.

If you've never heard of Naruto before, here's a crash course. Basically, there are several hidden villages in the world, each with its own clan of ninja. The story takes place in Konoha, Village of the Hidden Leaf. One day, many years ago, the Kyuubi (or nine-tailed demon fox of Japanese folklore) came to the village and began destroying the countryside. Knowing that there was only one way out, the Fourth Hokage (head ninja and leader of the village) sacrificed his life to seal the demon within a newborn baby, the hero of the story, Naruto Uzumaki. Growing up without any parents or attention from the surrounding villagers (they see him as a reincarnation of the Kyuubi), he finds himself acting the part of a prankster, desperate for any type of emotional contact. After becoming a ninja, he finds the meaning of true friendship. But when push comes to shove, watch out; in addition to his own chakra (energy), he's able to draw from the demon fox's power, making him quite the fighter.

What's so disappointing is that you won't be able to see too much of his power, since Clash of Ninja only goes up through the Bridgebuilder Arc, which for those of you watching the anime on Cartoon Network, know to be a very early chapter. The story mode can easily be beaten in around twenty minutes, much less if you bypass the intervening cutscenes. Also, because of the small amount of characters introduced at this point of the plot, only eight characters total can be used, with unlockable alternates of Naruto (early Kyuubi transformation) and Kakashi (with his Sharingan Eye exposed).

I was all ready to condemn this game for lacking any sort of incentive to return after all of the unlockables had been attained (in addition to the aforementioned secret character forms, there are also profiles and sound bytes for each fighter), but luckily, I decided to give the multiplayer some more time. I called over a couple buddies, and sure enough, Clash of Ninja is a great party game. This is probably due to its simplified control scheme; A is your weapon/sneak attack, B is your basic martial arts button, Y is your throw, and X is your special attack. To use your special ability, from Naruto's Shadow Clone gang-up attack or Haku's Ice Mirror, you'll have to fill up your Chakra Meter all the way, whether by taking or inflicting damage. If you'd rather not use a special attack, though, you can also use your energy as a counter-move. Shortly after being attacked, if you press R or L at the right time, your character will perform what's commonly referred to as the "Log Trick," where he'll teleport right behind your opponent and inflict a finishing blow. Your enemy can counter this as well, but keep in mind it takes up a large chunk of your energy, so the game doesn't become one counter after another.

Visually, Clash of Ninja's cel-shading is perfectly tuned to the art style of the anime, and barring a few hiccups, you won't encounter any slowdown during gameplay, which is quite impressive. Dodging and counter effects look particularly great, and energy attacks glow with intensity. The backgrounds don't look quite as impressive, lacking the attention to detail that went into the character models, but they get the job done, especially for a game that debuted in Japan almost four years ago.

Even before booting up the game, I knew the voice-overs wouldn't be that great, having seen the localized anime a few times. Naruto's raspy whine from the show is in place, and unfortunately, you won't be able to opt for the original Japanese voice track. Some are tolerable, though, and the acting for Kakashi and Zabuza (who's voiced by Steve Blum of Cowboy Bebop / Wolf's Rain fame) is particularly well-done.

At the end of the day, Naruto: Clash of Ninja is a great two-player game, but don't expect much if you're looking at a mostly single-player run. You can unlock everything in a couple extended sittings, so if you must play alone, rent. But if you've got a hankering for some spankering, ninja-style, and you've got a pal who's the same way, don't hesitate to pick this one up. It's great fighting fun, BELIEVE IT!

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8.5 6.5 8 7 6 7
Graphics
8.5

The backgrounds aren't a whole lot to look at, but character models and effects look spectacular. It's definitely safe to say this game has aged well.

Sound
6.5

The musical themes are passable, but a lot of the voice actors seem to be rookies. Luckily, Steve Blum is there to save the day and provide his usual awesome performance.

Control
8

Although I've countered at times when I was just trying to block in advance, Clash of Ninja is still a pretty quick and responsive fighter. The simplified management makes it very easy to execute combos.

Gameplay
7

Naruto's more of a party game than anything else, and you'll definitely have a lot of fun with it, but it's hard to forgive a game that can be completely opened up in two sittings.

Lastability
6

If you've got a friend to play with, this'll last a pretty long time, but if you're going single-player, don't expect to be drawn in for more than a day.

Final
7

I can't stress enough that Clash of Ninja is a multiplayer-first effort, so if that fits your situation, I can definitely recommend it. For everyone else, though, it's best left as a pass.

Summary

Pros
  • A great party game
  • Awesome cel-shaded graphics
  • It uses "BELIEVE IT!" even less than I do
Cons
  • Extremely short
  • Low number of fighters
  • Some of the voice actors are terrible
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

NephilimMarch 27, 2006

good review
its a good game, just bosses have no ai and u cann just punch them to death and later stages are fustrating due to pits

BloodworthDaniel Bloodworth, Staff AlumnusMarch 27, 2006

lol - Bosses? Pits? Are you sure you aren't referring to the GBA game? Because I'm playing pit-i-full stages right now, and the GC game has no such thing.

Smash_BrotherMarch 27, 2006

That pun warrants a vicious wedgie, or at least a sternum-poking.

KirbySStarMarch 28, 2006

It would have been really nice if they'd given the option for Japanese audio with subtitles. With so many die-hard fans you figure they would.

NephilimMarch 28, 2006

oh silly me :X

vuduMarch 28, 2006

I have a dilemma--I just won this game from the PCG 7th birthday contest. Except I've never seen the show and I don't really like fighters. I'm not sure what to do.

I'll probably just wind up giving it to a friend.

Shin GallonMarch 28, 2006

If they had the Japanese voices selectable I'd pick this up, because dubbed voices and I mix like matter and anti-matter.

KDR_11kMarch 28, 2006

vudu: Play it a few times against a friend. It's damn fun. Well, at least GNT3 is, that's what I'm playing against friends. You don't need to know much about the show, just that they're Ninjas and they have real ultimate power.

Shin: I'd have expected you to own one of the later games already. In Japanese, of course.

KnoxxvilleMarch 28, 2006

Save your duckets until Clash of the Ninja 3 at least....then you'll get your money's worth.

NephilimMarch 29, 2006

I dont see moneys worth comment being true
the american anime is only in the chuunin exams
american manga has just finished the chuunin exams
this game feature: ppl pre-chuunin exam

in reality only 2 is really going true to were people are up to
3-4 would just ruin it, unless ur into illegal downloading

BloodworthDaniel Bloodworth, Staff AlumnusMarch 29, 2006

He's specifically talking about the depth and quality of the games. I'm not sure how waiting until they release would ruin anything because they won't release until the show catches up.

And LOL, illegal downloading - if I can watch it on Japanese TV for free, I'm not going to cry about it. They're not offering the product I want through a "legal" channel. I'm certainly not going to wait four or five years (if the show is carried that long) to watch it with horrible translations and poorly directed voice acting.

KDR_11kMarch 29, 2006

3-4 give you more characters to play with, to hell with the story. I didn't know what the hell was going on in the story mode but that didn't make the game any less of a great party fighter.

Tuxedo.BondMarch 31, 2006

As long as you purchase the DVD's (R1, or R2, etc) if you have watched and like the anime, then I have no problem with it. Because I like subs better usually but still purchase the stuff to make up for watching the subs.

NephilimApril 02, 2006

IGN lists clash of ninja 2 for e3
at this rate, you could be playing no.4 by early next year

and yes, naruto 12 the dvd features ep 103...so you can watch naruto legally and not get spoilt by naruto 4

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Genre Action
Developer Eighting
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Naruto: Clash of Ninja
Release Mar 07, 2006
PublisherD3Publisher
RatingTeen
jpn: Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen
Release Apr 11, 2003
PublisherD3Publisher
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