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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Adventure
Players: 1-2
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: October 30, 2007
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Next to Dragon Ball Z, no title has received the royal treatment that Naruto has claimed since making its mark on the North American market. Just like DBZ, Naruto has seen several titles across more than six platforms, with no signs of slowing down one bit. Within its latest title, Naruto: Rise of a Ninja, our eclectic hero Naruto must win over more than 250 villagers within Leaf Village. Sounds like fun...

After firing up the game, players will immediately notice similarities between this title and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a Nintendo 64 classic. If Ubisoft wanted, the whole game could of taken place within the walls of Leaf Village because the shear size of the village fall along the lines of a major U.S. city. This is one of the few grand and immersive titles to grace the Xbox 360 console since its release back in 2005. To give another example of the size of the village, keep this in mind... After spending several hours completing missions inside and outside of the village, you will still be discovering new rooms and locations beyond what is already available once starting up the game.

I'm sure some are still trying to figure out how to win over 250 villagers in Leah Village, well here is how you would do it: simply collect various coins scattered across rooftops, compete in street races (on foot), several games of hide-and-seek, delivering ramen to businesses and individuals throughout Leaf Village, and utilizing a technique known as Sexy Jutsu on love-sick villagers. This alone will help you to win over lots of villagers, but not enough to be the talk of the town. You must also compete in 20 plus storyline missions, which have you exploring vast areas beyond the walls of Leaf Village.

As you progress through the single-player campaign, you pick up new moves, known as Jutsu. This ability can be cast simply by holding down the left trigger and making hand jesters with the left and right analog sticks. The various Jutsu moves can be used to run up walls and trees to reach higher levels within the village, to performing Sexy Jutsu, which allows Naruto to transform in to a sexy babe, which ultimately sends love struck villagers into a frenzy and thus winning their favor. These same Jutsuís can also be upgrade, which is a necessary when reach ladder levels inside and outside the village. While hand-to-hand combat can get this job done, when going against bandits outside the village, nothing will top your Jutsu abilities (as long as you upgrade them). The only drawback to the Jutsu moves is the fact that you must stand still while imputing the control prompts, which leaves you open to attacks.

From a visual standpoint, Rise of a Ninja is an animated delight. The character models and landscapes boar a similar look and feel to the Japanese anime, while at the same time boasting some highly detailed cel-shading textures. I have always thought there were only two people that could move on top of water (Jesus and Ryu Hayabusa), but after seeing Naruto's skill, he makes it look effortless, while creating realistic water ripples within the lakes and ponds.

While this title possesses the total package, there are a few issues within the combat system and other areas that keep this title from being another masterpiece for Xbox 360 owners. Instead of taking a cue from Naruto: Clash of the Ninja and its sequel, Ubisoft decided to opt for more of a Tekken look and feel, which is comprised of several kicking and punching combos. Another issue with the game comes via the gameplay mechanics. When going beyond the village walls for one of the many in-game missions, Naruto ventures out with his pals Sakura and Sasuke. Throughout the game, including this part, players are only about to play as Naruto, which takes away from the creative flare the anime creates.

The redeeming feature for the combat system comes via the built-in fighter Ubisoft decided to through in at upon the completion of the game. In this mode, players can select one of 12 fighters (one unlockable) and go head-to-head with their friends, or compete online in the Forest of Death Exam open tournament where they can earn various achievements. Within this online mode, you will be battling for the right to into the Tower of Death by defeating two randomly selected online opponents in a row. There are no brackets or appointed times to meet up for battles. To ascend the Tower of Death, you must battle through three levels of randomly selected online opponents. Once reaching the top level, you will continue to battle randomly selected opponents until you are defeated. It is kind of a King of the Hill type structure. If by chance you are defeated, you can easily re-enter the tournament and climb the latter once more. The twist in this mode is while you are advancing through the tournament, so are your online opponents. Within this mode, players will also notice the individuality of the various fighters, adding more depth and less redundancy.

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja is a very enjoyable game to play. Once making your way past the few annoying missions in the beginning, the game becomes a real treat; both visually and action wise. While the single-player campaign is not as deep as most would want it, the other features make up for the lack of depth. Seeing how the game takes place during the first 80 episodes of the anime, those new to the series can learn a lot about the franchise from playing this game. Naruto: Rise of the Ninja is not the best action adventure title or fighter on the Xbox 360, but it certainly makes up for the slack by melding to genres into one title.


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