A very basic RPG with grid-based combat and a boring, clichéd storyline.
Some of you may remember that I reviewed Naruto: Ninja Destiny earlier this year and was impressed by it. Ninja Destiny is a fighting game, and while Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 is a different genre – it’s very basic RPG - it’s not nearly as good, considering its genre and platform, as Ninja Destiny. I don’t have a lot of experience with Naruto games or the series itself, but I can tell you that this probably isn’t a game you’ll like very much.
Path of the Ninja 2 begins with some bad guys trying to awaken a giant slumbering Beast Demon, setting in motion a series of events that eventually lead to a girl’s grandpa dying. The girl runs to the Hidden Leaf Village, where Naruto ‘n’ Friends live, to ask for their help. Before you know it, the whole lot of Naruto’s pals have signed on to the cause of stopping the Beast Demon and getting the bad guys. In order to stop the giant catfish, Naruto & Co. must find five mystical mirrors to seal the Beast Demon back in…um…demon land. Yes, it’s that clichéd. Boy…I wonder if they’ll have to…*gasp*…fight the Beast Demon? The mind boggles.
Overworld exploration is extremely basic. You wander around a bird’s-eye view landscape finding treasure chests containing items and talking to NPCs. Random battles occur in the field with some frequency, and new frontiers are reached by finding and equipping different “animal companions.” These act as summons in battle, and they can all level up. Battles themselves are the game’s one attempt at innovation (although the Mega Man: Battle Network series have been doing them the same way for the better part of a decade). Combat is still turn-based, but your party members can move around on the battlefield. The basic premise is that the amount damage that you can deal or receive is based on your distance from the enemy. Being closer will let you hit harder while taking more damage, while being further away results in less damage to both you and your opponents. Some enemies (especially bosses) use attacks that take up multiple squares on the grid, so strategic placement of your troops becomes important to success. You can have three party members on the field at any one time, but you can switch one character out for another at any time without losing a turn. This means that characters can turn, move, switch, and attack in one turn
Path of Ninja 2 has simply too many characters. After the first half-hour of gameplay you’ll have six party members, and the number just goes up from there. It becomes challenging to keep all of your party members at or around the same experience level, and you’ll spend more time making sure Bob and Ted are fighting instead of Joe and Steve (note: not the real character names). Your command list is also ridiculously long—there are almost too many things you can do in any given turn, and the experience becomes bogged down in tedium.
The game’s single shining light is its online battle mode. You can take your team online via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and fight other player’s teams in online grid-based fights. It’s humbling, but also fun - sort of like Pokemon without the universal brand recognition - and it’s interesting to see other player’s movement strategies and how they’ve equipped their characters. If nothing else, it gives you some ideas for tackling the single-player game.
Despite the appealing online component, I can’t recommend Path of the Ninja 2 to anyone mildly interested in Naruto or portable RPG’s, as there are better examples of both on the DS.