Review by Seph1roth5
"A decent upgrade to the last Naruto Accel game."
Fans of the PS2 Naruto Narutimate series of fighting games have been waiting for the sequel to Narutimate Accel 1 to come out, but with only roughly 8 months in between games, there isn't much new content.
The basic gameplay hasn't been changed much since Accel 1. The fighting system is a mix of old Fatal Fury games (you can move to the background plane and foreground plane) and Pocket/Gem Fighter (characters have a wide variety of attacks with varying ranges and effects). The whole Narutimate series does a very good job of capturing the ninja feel of Naruto. Characters run up trees and can walk on water, everyone has some kind of projectile that can be thrown, and there are a dozen or so items that you can knock out of the environment. The items range from a small chakra refill to a poison bomb to shuriken traps. The items aren't incredibly powerful, but they help the game feel different from any run of the mill 2d fighting game. Anyone familiar with fighting games should have no problem picking up the controls.
RPG mode is a free-roaming 3d game and reverts to the standard 2d fights when you talk to certain NPCs or as part of the story. Unfortunately, there are also 3d fights which have been oversimplified to the point where all you do is mash on circle and occasionally throw in an rasengan. At least in the first Accel, Naruto's attacks varied a bit into long air combos. There are way too many random battles in story mode also. You have to run all over the game to progress the story, and on every non-city map there are random goons who will attack if you get too close. You can momentarily disable these goons by throwing shurikens at them before they touch you, but it takes a lot of shurikens, and that's a lot of work to have to do multiple times every map. As you get further in story mode the goons get a lot more annoying, meaning there are a lot more of them everywhere and they have more health so it takes more shurikens to bypass.
The biggest new gameplay feature is the addition of an assist button. After choosing your character, you select a secondary character that can help you out in battle. You start out with only a few assist characters to choose from, but can eventually unlock everyone through RPG mode. Assists can be a bit of a problem though, since you can call our your partner even while you're being attacked and the partners can't be hit. Partners can't be as abused as in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, since you do have to wait a little longer before you can call them back out again, but it still seems like the game should at least have the option to turn it off.
Well, if you don't know Japanese the story is going to be a problem if you don't already know what happens in the anime/manga. Even if you do know the whole story, a FAQ is recommended to know exactly where you have to go next. The story basically takes you through the main fights from the start of Shippuden up until the end of the Sasuke arc. Aside from the main story, there are also short fetch missions to complete, wood clones to fight, and a few other challenges. These challenges and missions unlock bonus jutsus and assist characters to be used in other modes.
Graphics are practically identical to Accel 1, and why shouldn't they be, at least 75% of the characters' moves and animations are just ported over from previous games. Still, the special effects like fireballs and water dragons look very nice, and considering there is over 60 characters there's a lot of variety in the fighting styles and attacks. The cinematic animation for character's ougis (special attacks you need to use a certain amount of chakra and maybe other requirements) are impressive as always, and for the most part very cool. There are plenty of new ougis to watch as well. There are at least 2 for each of the new characters, and a handful of new dual ougis you can perform if you choose a specific combination of characters (such as Itachi/Kisame or Naruto/Sakura).
All the clanging weapons and yelled-out attacks sound very crisp and discernible. Too bad the menus are annoying as ever, making a loud "OH!" every time you press circle. The background music pieces are well-done too. I don't remember if any of them are specifically from the show, but a lot of the fast-paced ones work really well for a fighting game. The slower, more melodic music fit in fine too. They just don't feel as engaging as the faster stuff.
Play Time/Replayability: 8.5/10
Tackling RPG mode to get all the characters should only take 3-6 hours if you use a guide, maybe a little more if you have trouble with the clone fights. Unlocking all the characters should add on another hour or 2 to the play time, but if you want to complete RPG mode 100% and get every custom jutsu and do every mission, that'll definitely extend the play time by...well that's hard to say since there aren't any guides for the missions yet. As for replayability, as long as you have someone else to play with, Accel 2 should offer tons of fun ninja fighting time with its 62 characters (more if you count the characters with multiple forms that you can start the battle in). If you don't know anyone who's good at fighting games, or refuses to play because of hatred of the show, it won't be quite as fun, but not many fighting games have a long-lasting one-player mode.
I'd definitely recommend Naruto Shippuden: Narutimate Accel 2 to any Naruto fans. For people who haven't seen the show, it's still a solid fighting game with tons of variety and eye-catching special attacks. Although, since it's a Japanese game, it'd probably be a little harder for a non-fan of the show to put the effort and money into getting it.
Final Score: 8.5
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/25/07
Game Release: Naruto Shippuuden: Narutimate Accel 2 (JP, 12/20/07)
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