Review by Image20

Reviewed: 12/26/06

Can Naruto break the cycle of bad anime games? Believe it!

Now, if you're an anime fan like me, you're getting tired of the cookie-cutter, basic anime video games that take your favorite series, cut it to hell and back, and slap it over a fighting system for profit. I'm peering at YOU, Dragon Ball anything-that-has-come-out-lately.

So, here comes another Naruto game. Is it more of the same? Could a nine year-old child create a more engrossing and fun game?

Probably, but it'd be hard.

Uzumaki Chronicles is billed as an action-rpg, a label which fits perfectly. You play as the boy himself, Uzumaki Naruto, and you take on missions which give you perfect opportunity to test the waters in a decent combat system. Said system, with two attack buttons (three, if you count weapons) and two Ninjutsu buttons, the combat in this game is simple yet unbelievably fun.

String together combos with your Taijutsu, or flavor them with Ninjitsu attacks. Or, if you like, flavor some Ninjitsu with weapon attacks, or weapons with... well, you get the idea. The combat system is pretty good, allowing you to lock onto enemies for that extra bit of focus.

So you can play as Naruto, but what about the others? Where's the Rock Lee love? Well, rest assured, there is a fine compliment of allies to use in this game. Though they don't stick around as long as you want, instead relying on a stamina bar, if you kick enough butt, the enemies will drop enough Chakra Orbs to keep your favorite ninja fueled for the firefight. Each ally has their own signature moves (1000 Years of Death, anyone? Kancho Ninja!) which give this game a bit of depth that is drastically needed.

The storyline is mission-based, and it's barely enough to cover the game. I could have used a LOT more missions and a lot more to do in the way of minigames, though forming handsigns is fun. I can't really mention too much about the story, since I'm more a fan of the Japanese Manga, and this seems to be the American Anime. Still, it's entertaining, and that's all we can ask for from Bandai.

I'm not a fan of the Dragonball games released on the PS2. They all seem pretty mindless, with a barebones "customization" system to hook you in. This game, however, has at least some innovation going for it. You can, with the game's Virtue currency, purchase Skill Chips, which can then be slotted into different patterns for bonus effects. Like to combo the heck out of enemies? Slot some Taijutsu chips and have at it. If you're like me, though, it's Ninjitsu all the way, so that those repeated applications of the Naruto U Barrage do more damage.

All in all, the game's a welcome departure from Dragon Ball Z's repeated forays into the console gaming community. You're not going to get a shoddy fighter here. Instead, prepare to have a lot of fun with a simple, easy-to-use yet interesting combat system, a decent storyline, and enough voice acting to appease any anime fan. Believe it!

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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