Just because you don't understand 75 percent of the title doesn't mean you can't enjoy the game.
If you don’t know what or who Naruto is, then please allow me to explain. Naruto is a manga and anime that has become increasingly popular in the last few years. It is a story of young kids/teenagers who want to become the best ninjas, or “shinobi,” they can be. The story focuses on this one loudmouth and extremely powerful ninja named Naruto Uzamaki. The original Naruto series ended a while ago and a sequel series, Naruto Shippuden, is currently running. That should hopefully clear up what the title of this game, Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Rumble, means. Shinobi Rumble is the latest installment of the long line of Naruto-based video games. The majority of them are basic fighting games.
The mechanics shouldn’t feel that foreign to anyone who has played a game in the genre before. There is a light attack, a hard attack, a block and a jump, in addition to a set of special and ultra-powerful moves. Each character has a different style of attack, as in some characters are fantastic at stringing along melee attacks, while others can attack from a safe distance with shadows and bombs. Each of the 16 characters has a unique fighting style, and anyone who plays this game will easily find a favorite depending on how they like to attack their opponents. I found one character who carries a big-ass sword and can turn into water. That character, much like every character in the game, is easy to learn and fun to play as.
There are four different game modes, including the story mode, VS mode, Personal Battles, and Missions. The first two are self-explanatory, as the story, which is slightly boring, tells a simplified version of an arc from the series, and VS mode lets you fight your friends or the computer.
Personal Battles is a series of battles that you must progress through to unlock more game content. This mode is both the most fun and frustrating part of the game. While you can fight more and more opponents, they also get smarter and sometimes leave you unable to retaliate by spamming moves more than you do when you first pick up the game. But it’s because of the challenge that these battles are fun. If it weren’t for these battles, the game wouldn’t challenge you to learn more combos and stick with the game. It’s frustrating to the point where you might grumble or shout, but not so challenging that you’d break your DS.
Missions gives you three choices of missions at a time. Depending on which one you choose and complete, you get a stamp on a bingo card. Once you get bingo, you unlock a new move or ability for your character. This mode is creative in the sense that it opens you up to new gameplay concepts that you likely didn’t think about before. Some of the missions include gathering items and avoiding damage with your character. Unfortunately you need to do this with each of the sixteen characters to unlock their special moves. Needless to say, it gets repetitive fast.
The visuals are rather simplistic, but the art style implemented is interesting. The style is a lot like the manga and anime that the game is based on. There are also elements of old Japanese art styles throughout the game. Some moves really take advantage of the art style by turning opponents into frogs, or by poking them in the butt so hard they shoot through the air crying. Sadly, the music doesn’t complement the visuals, as it is rather generic and falls short of anything memorable.
With a story mode that is weaker than most fighting games, the often frustrating Personal Battles mode, and shoddy music, the game falls short of greatness. The unlockables, missions, and wide variety of characters save the game from being terrible, luckily. Overall, the game is alright, with a nice mix of high and low points. It isn’t anything special, but if you have a few hours to kill, and a love for Japanese anime and manga, you may want to check out a copy.