Not too long ago, one of the newest console Naruto games from Japan was brought out in America. The game, Uzumaki Chronicles, already has a sequel due out for release that looks to improve upon some of the shortcomings of the original.
Uzumaki Chronicles 2 has an all-new story, unique to the game. In it, a believed-to-be-extinct band of ninjas, called the Shirogane Clan, have been wreaking havoc across the Naruto world. The Shirogane clan is able to make puppets, similar to Kankuro’s, but can act independently of a puppeteer (so, essentially, wooden robots). The story takes place in what is being presented as an alternate universe. Though, in actuality, it takes place after the Hidden Leaf Village and Hidden Sand Village team up (which happens in the anime well beyond the events aired by the time the game drops). There are a handful of characters playable, most notably Naruto, Sakura, Choji, Shikamaru, Rock Lee, Neji, Gaara and Kankuro. There will also be a handful of characters completely new to the series, and introduced entirely for the game who end up being the bosses in the game.
The game, for the most part, plays nearly identically to the original Uzumaki Chronicles. The only major improvement is that it allows for switching between party members mid-battle, which can allow for some neat multi-character combos. Additionally, there is some two-player cooperative play, which is always a welcome addition to a game. After muddling through Ninja Council 3, there is one thing that’s worthy of acknowledgement and, for my NC3 brothers, appreciation. The game has both side-missions and main missions. And there is the, get this, an OPTION to play the side-missions, rather than being forced to play through literally dozens of repetitive kill-the-enemies and find-the-items before being able to continue the story. While this doesn’t sound like much, it’s quite important. There are several other modes, like survival and missions…but there won’t be much actual time invested into it.
Perhaps the biggest improvement is in the graphical department. Much like Vivendi‘s The Simpsons games, the original Uzumaki Chronicles tried to use elaborate, pointy 3d renders of the characters, which just looked kind of weird. With Uzumaki Chronicles 2, they switch to a cell-shaded kind of look, which looks significantly better than what they were using before. Additionally, the game still uses all the same voice actors from the TV show, guaranteeing the same quality of voice acting found in the show (elitists will be disappointed to find, though, that there is no Japanese voice option).
The game drops September 4, and the way things are shaping up, it seems like it would be a good pickup for any Naruto fan.