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Naruto Clash of Ninja EX

Wax left! Wax right! Wax to the front!

Japan Import: Beyond the quick buck that's to be made from its obsessive fans, there's really no reason for Naruto to exist on Wii at all. Its 'new' control scheme is better served by the old-fashioned Classic controller than by remote and nunchuk, which achieve little beyond making you look like a major twit while playing.

Aside from the bells and whistles common to all Naruto fighters - the special abilities, charge attacks etc - it really is just a standard joypad game in motion-sensitive disguise. In place of button taps it asks for brisk directional swipes of the remote, which as far as gestures go feel less like throwing punches than slapping someone passionately about the face with a frozen kipper. Then there are the gestural special moves, triggered with a button press and built up with waggle and window-washing motions.

Do they actually add anything? Do they resolve some longstanding genre bugbear? Or are they just the latest wafer-thin excuse to dip into people's wallets?

If you've played your share of tournament fighters, especially those catering to the ever-lucrative Shonen anime market, then you're probably going to know the answer to this already. Throughout its umpteen instalments, Naruto's always dealt exclusively in minor changes, which is a shame as it encourages us to speak ill of a series that's otherwise potentially rather good. Reminiscent of Rival Schools1, it's captured the cartoon look almost perfectly over the years, to the point of becoming every bit the faster-than-light extravaganza that TV audiences have come to expect.

Inheriting more or less everything from the previous Clash Of Ninja 4, the Wii version certainly isn't a step backwards. But its trio of motion-controlled minigames2 and redundant 'innovations' hardly seem a step forwards either.

The series' future may well be on Wii, but by the looks of things it'll never stop being a GameCube game.

The verdict

A half-hearted Wii implementation to rank with Dragon Ball Z and Bleach, but still a decent fighting game, full of cel-shaded pyrotechnics and mind-bending moves.

Nintendo Wii
Beat 'em Up