Naruto fighting games are stuck between a Rock Lee and a hard place.
How do you bring intensely choreographed brawls to life without upsetting control freak fighting fans? Answer: you don't.
Devs CyberConnect2 offer incredible anime fidelity at the cost of complexity. Hammer away on X (your main attack button) and Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 becomes a Naruto episode drawn on the fly.
X: Naruto's shadow clones swarm Sakura. X: Rock Lee juggles Kisame skywards. X, X, X: Eight palm barrages, rabid attack dogs and battle puppets.
Every button press triggers fan service. Nuance doesn't go beyond timing your substitution jutsu and managing chakra levels.
Only tag team moves add a hint of strategy. Pick the right partner (playing on defensive offensive strengths) and well-timed moves will build towards devastating co-op finishers.
To a hardened fighting fan this is like returning to Velcro after years of laces
The experience is satisfying but there's no art in it. With gimmicky mid-battle twists (avoiding electrified water, for example) and minute-long quick-time events, Ninja Storm 2 can feel more like elaborate boss encounters in a God of War actioner.
Why recreate the show's iconic battles if we're not actually doing the recreating?
CyberConnect2 also fluff the framing. 2008's Ninja Storm gave us a free-roaming Konoha, a fun playground that has now regressed to a chain of static backgrounds broken up with a ludicrous number of loading screens.
Is this some new dark ninja jutsu: Death By A Thousand Loading Screens?
While Ninja Storm 2 may look and sound exactly like Naruto, the boy ninja's boundless energy is sadly lacking.
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