And suddenly... Ninjas. Everywhere!
As Naruto and his friends emerge from being hidden in trees and behind cardboard boxes, they prepare for a clash to show who is master of the fighting arena on the Nintendo Wii.
After you skip the fancy animated video intro, the first thing that hits you is the incredibly annoying main menu. As you scroll through the options in the menu, the girl staring at you eerily from the screen announces what each mode is as you highlight it. In desperate search of a way to nullify the highly irritating voice. I immediately scrolled to the 'Settings' menu, where, surprisingly enough, “you can change game settings”. Turning off sound effects was the only way to rid the horror. Though of course that meant no other sound effects were present once I started playing.
Thankfully that is where the pain ended, and after playing the game for a while I forgot about the dreadful first impression.
The first stop a new player should visit is the mission mode. Strangely, training doesn't explain enough of the basics for a new player to understand the flow of the game. Instead, the training mode would be used more by veteran players who intend to spend a lot of their time grinding away trying to memorize the combination attack sequences for their favoured character. The first part of mission mode gives you a brief run-down of fighting. This brief tutorial covers everything from movement, dodging, defending, attacking, throwing to more detailed manoeuvres, like hiding behind objects and knocking your opponent into other parts of the arena.
As far as game play mechanics are concerned, this is a pretty basic fighter.
Each character has a selection of weak attacks, strong attacks, and their special 'jutsu' attack, which has limited use governed by the amount of 'chakra' the player has. Chakra is earned by fighting; as it builds up, you are able to use it for a few different special techniques unique to the character you are using. As well as the offensive specials that each character possesses, chakra may also be used in a special evasion technique that all characters have access to. This evasion technique helps you avoid getting stuck in a long and lethal combo by teleporting your character behind the opponent out of their attack flow. It cannot be used to avoid opponents special 'jutsu' attacks once they have begun. As you would expect, 'weak' attacks covers the most basic of kicks and punches. Strong attacks branch into more unique abilities such as smaller 'jutsu', knife slashes, projectile attacks, parries and various other techniques that break up the similarities between characters.
The special 'Jutsu' attacks are much more potent. When they are successfully used, the fight stops and moves into a special cut scene to show the special activate, neither player can move at this stage. Once the attack finishes, fighters return to a fighting stance and the action continues.
Since it is quite a basic fighter, it means players who aren't experienced fighters aren't overwhelmed by strenuous button combinations needed to perform specific attacks. Combos come quite naturally, meaning nearly any move can be chained into another. However, this does mean that the game can become quite 'mashy'.
Various different control schemes are available, the Classic Controller and GameCube pad may be used for a more standard control option. Or, if you're game, the Nunchuk and Wii remote brings a more standard Wii feel to the game. With the Wii remote and Nunchuk, button mashing goes out the door. Instead you play your matches by waving your arms around frantically, occasionally hitting one of the assigned special buttons to perform your special 'jutsu' technique. After a good five minutes of wild flailing, I abandoned the Nunchuk and connected the Classic Controller for some 'old school' button mashing. As for the differences between the Classic Controller and the GameCube Pad, it all comes down to personal preference. Mainly the decision is based on whether you prefer to fight using a D-Pad or the Control Stick.
As is the case with most fighting games, the real fun isn't set in the single player mode, which is rather shallow and easy. Not to mention fighting AI opponents just isn't as fun as a good match versus a live one. Luckily a multiplayer mode is included, though there isn't much difference from the main game.
Worth mentioning is the ability to play with four players simultaneously in a 2 vs 2 match. The match plays similar to a normal two-player match but each character has a marker pointing towards the opponent they are fighting. It is possible to switch who you are fighting against so it actually seems like you are playing as a team, but for the most part it is just as if there are two separate fights going on at the same time. Of course, when you die your team mate is left to take on the other two fighters by himself.
Clash of the ninja definitely isn't designed for people who don't follow the series. Whether it be from the anime or the games, background knowledge to the characters and their abilities certainly helps.
After playing a few of the missions, I was troubled by an objective telling me to “defeat Gaara using Sasuke's Chidori”. I managed to work out who was who, but I was given absolutely no hint as to what a 'Chidori' was. This can be off putting at first, but once you get stuck into the game, you pick up on what's what.
In all, Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution hits the spot for those looking for a traditional style fighter. The single player experience may be a bit shallow, but if you are a fan of fighting games, or the Naruto series, or both, Clash of Ninja will fit well in your gaming collection.