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Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 Package Art
GENRE
RPG
DEVELOPER
Tomy
PUBLISHER
Tomy
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
MICROPHONE
Yes
BUY NOW AT

Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2

First off, full disclosure: we're not really dedicated fans of the Naruto franchise. That said, we still have a certain amount of respect for the anime and more than enough respect for the RPG genre, and, as luck would have it, Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 involves both.

Having not personally played the original Path of the Ninja, I was not quite sure what to expect from its sequel. The end result is a relatively generic RPG, but when you give it the benefit of the doubt, Path of the Ninja 2 becomes a decent piece of fan service that will please hardcore Naruto followers and make many of the game's shortcomings negligible.

visuals

Path of the Ninja 2 is an entirely sprite-based game that could have easily been pulled off on the Game Boy Advance or SNES. The animations and detail on the world map are inexcusably dull, with the character sprites appearing especially crude. The character detail improves considerably during battles, but the animations are still desperately in need of a few more frames. The dual screen presentation is also uninspired; the bottom screen presents the gameplay while the top screen does nothing more than show your party’s stats.

audio

While Path of the Ninja 2 makes little effort to set itself apart aurally, neither does it totally fail. The music is suitably energetic and mildly catchy but it never really stands out as particularly memorable and ultimately some songs begin to feel a little repetitive. While the music achieves a degree of mediocrity, the overall sound design falls short of even that less than spectacular mark. The punches and slashes typical of the genre are all present, but the voiceover cues that go with each attack quickly become annoying. Overall, you could play Path of the Ninja 2 muted from start to finish and not miss a thing.

gameplay

Path of the Ninja 2 features an original story that could have easily been used as filler between major story arcs in the anime. A group of evil ninjas have awoken an extremely powerful and evil catfish demon with the hope that it will destroy the world. To stop the demon, Naruto and his pals have to find five magic mirrors. This is a rather typical yet entertaining yarn that should be serviceable to Naruto fans but will probably disappoint gamers looking for an engaging RPG. Another complaint is with the writing, which is laughably simple and obviously meant to appeal to a much younger audience; older Naruto fans should keep that in mind.

After some exposition, the game picks up and players will find themselves in a very traditional and linear RPG; you progress from map to map, grind for a while, fight a boss, get some more story, and then return to town to upgrade your gear. As typical as Path of the Ninja 2 is to the genre, some of its core mechanics are worthy of praise. The battles take place on an invisible grid with three rows: front, middle and rear. Players can freely move their characters anywhere on the grid during their turn before attacking. That placement affects characters' defense and attack strength; the front row raises attack power while lowering defense, the back row does the opposite, and the middle splits the difference. Also, while there can only be three characters on the field at any given time, gamers are free to swap a fourth, reserve character in and out without having to use up a turn. This system makes battles quick and incorporates a level of strategy that is wasted on most random encounters but proves valuable during the surprisingly challenging boss battles.

Outside of battles, Path of the Ninja 2 returns to its bland ways, as the maps offer little incentive for exploration and character progression is as formulaic as could be. That said, the game does mix things up a bit by featuring a lot of playable characters, and when we say a lot, we mean too many. Keeping your enormous party equipped with up-to-date weapons, armor, and ninja tags (stat bonuses) is an absolute chore and a strain on the in-game wallet. At least the developers were kind enough to make leveling-up a quick process; then again, this also contributes to the game's relatively short length. Most gamers should be able to finish up Path of the Ninja in less than a dozen hours and there is little reason to go back.

multiplayer

Path of the Ninja 2 does deserve a few points for its multiplayer battles available via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. This mode allows players to pit their parties against each other to see who has the better ninjas. Most people will probably not be all that impressed by this offering, but it could very well be the title’s saving grace by building a community of Naruto enthusiasts who keep playing the game to maximize their party’s strength.

overall

The DS has seen a number of great RPGs this year -- and Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 is not even close to being among them. Much of the gameplay is stale, the story is simple, and the presentation is devoid of character. Still, the game possesses enough of what makes the franchise popular to appeal to hardcore fans (and perhaps younger gamers) and that is enough to make it a bit more than a simple cash-in. Most RPG fans, though, are better off waiting for Chrono Trigger's release next month.

final score 7.2/10





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Staff Avatar Andy Hoover
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"There's SAND on my boots!"


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