How can Naruto end up being a bad videogame? It practically is a videogame: a load of plot exposition glued together with humongous fights.
Last time we looked, that's 97% of all games. But no. That would be too easy. Instead, Tomy decide that what Naruto really needs is a plot MacGuffin to suppress those humongous fights.
Say hello to Mount Koryu, a chakra-suppressing pile of rocks that forces Naruto to rely not on flamboyant ninjutsu, but the eponymous Dragon Blade.
Yes, Naruto, famed for blistering hand-to-hand brawls, has become a hack-and-slasher.
It's as if Tomy watched the anime and systematically removed all the defining magic. The focus on intense one-on-one duelling is replaced with trudging group encounters against waves of brown mud zombie things.
Occasionally we're blessed with some flying peanut things as well. Well, they're either peanuts or withered cat turds - it's hard to tell in murky grain-o-vision.
Either way, Naruto's sword-flailing isn't designed for aerial combat, so hitting them is a colossal chore. Unless you have to kill them - to remove an arbitrary invisible barrier, natch - we recommend running past.
DRAGON BALLS, MORE LIKE
And the slowdown. Oh, the slowdown. Question: what exactly is slowing down? We're talking N64-grade textures and geometry - the Wii eats games like this for breakfast.
Perhaps the Wii did eat this game for breakfast and what we're playing is its subsequent poo. Or maybe it's a sly commentary on cheapo anime production values; the show pads episodes with static frames of animation, so why shouldn't the game?
One escape sequence chugged so much it was like playing under a strobe light. Inexcusable. With the game clocking in at six hours, could the frame rate possibly be a way of artificially inflating the game length?
Half a game at half the speed makes a full game. That's some sweet maths.
You certainly won't spend any time in two-player Versus mode - combat only reinforces how depressingly shallow the fighting system really is.
Anime fans are a notoriously forgiving bunch, willing to stomach all kinds of torture for an extra hour or two with beloved characters. But as one Naruto fan to another, this writer begs you to avoid this at all costs.
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After last year's genuinely excellent Clash Of Ninja Revolution 2, this is a continent-sized leap backwards. Good news for 2011: the only way is up
- Japanese voice cast provide authentic vocals
- We're not comfortable calling these 'graphics'
- Forgettable soundtrack
- Surgically extracts what makes the anime fun