IGN Review of Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution
When it comes to the Naruto franchise, we've never really been full-fledged fans. The characters have their charming moments, the action is there, but there's nothing that really hooks us as far as the series itself goes. More than that, we're fighting game fans, and it just so happens that when it comes to fighters, Naruto's Clash of Ninja series is one of the best out there for Nintendo (or specifically, Wii) fans to get their hands on. We've been promoting and playing Clash of Ninja since its beginning on GameCube, and one constant remains: The series rocks, and we score it accordingly.
Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution is - in nearly every possible way - an extension of the previous GameCube series. You're getting the same basic gameplay, some returning characters and levels, and even the basic controls remain entirely in tact in the franchise's move from Cube to Wii. As with any ever-evolving iteration, be it Soul Calibur, Street Fighter, or Clash of Ninja, each sequel is judged not only on the core fighting experience, but also on what new aspects it brings to the table. In an even broader look, it's about whether or not the franchise has taken a step forward, or a step backward. With Clash of Ninja Revolution, it's a step forward, even if it is relatively small.
What you're getting this time around in Clash of Ninja Revolution is the soul of the series, now accompanied by some basic Wii principles that make the transition between consoles a smooth one, without going as far as to change the overall gameplay at all. You can now take Wii-mote and nunchuk in hand, using basic waggle for light and heavy attacks, or do actions along with the super attacks to increase the hit combo. Other than that, it's the same traditional Clash of Ninja experience as it ever was. Now you're met with more characters, more levels, and more options.
As for the general presentation, not a ton has changed from Clash of Ninja 2 on GameCube. You've still got the option to play with up to four players, doing one-on-one battles, or two-on-two (or one-on-three) team bouts as well. Each player selects their fighter, enters the ring, and dukes it out. Added this year is also the ability to play through survival mode with two players, so you can actually do team survival and work in a more chaotic - but equally entertaining - style as before. Team that with in-level objects to hide, attack, and move around, as well as the ability to knock players from one section of a level to an all new area and you've got a solid bump up from CoN2 that builds slightly, but also stays very traditional. If you liked what you got with Clash of Ninja 2, you'll dig Revolution even more.
Aside from a larger roster and some basic changes though, the game remains pretty unchanged, which is both a good thing as well as a bad. You've got a few mini-games that make use of the Wii-mote in neat ways (some of which motion-based, while others use IR in a light gun styled challenge), and of course the ever-evolving story mode continues to follow the US lineage, which is also the reason for the addition of new characters.
Speaking of characters, that's where the Clash of Ninja series has really evolved this time around. Without giving away too many specifics, Revolution adds a larger cast this year - which we've been featuring in our character reveal series every Tuesday and Thursday - and without hesitation we can say that every new character adds a deeper, unique touch to the game. Amongst the new fighters my hands-down favorite is Tenten, as she's absolutely brutally fast, and makes great use of shuriken attacks. Since each fighter also has alternative supers in the game, each of these new fighters of course embrace that design choice, so while Tenten's uber-attack deals a brutal amount of damage, she also has a jumping shuriken attack that can be pulled off at any time (assuming she has enough power) which is fast, brutal, and can be executed in a moment's notice.
As another awesome addition to the cast - ironically another that was just revealed yesterday - Temari is simply ruthless, using her giant fan to do semi-distance attacks while still remaining extremely fast. In previous Clash of Ninja games we needed to rely on characters like Sakura to act as our multi-hit, quick fighters. Now that the cast is evolving though, there are far more options to be had.
Control has also been added to in an extremely big way, particularly on the amount of customization that can be had. The Wii-mote/nunchuk controls are of course the encouraged style up play, but we had just as much fun using the Wii-mote on its side (NES style), the classic controller, or the GameCube controller; each of which are fully embraced with Clash of Ninja Revolution. It's a shame that the extra combo attacks couldn't be added to any more aside from the motion-based Wii-mote/nunchuk combo, but it only equates to a few hits here and there; nothing too critical.
On the audio/visual front, Revolution is a slight bump up from Clash of Ninja 2 on GameCube. 16:9 support is still lacking, which is a shame, but the effects animations have been improved upon, and the cinematic transitions between sections of arenas blends nicely with the core design. For importers, Clash of Ninja Revolution is a better overall title than its Japanese counterpart, due mainly in part by some optimization in shadowing and effects, so the game not only runs far smoother with four players on screen, but also retains the look you'd expect. The overall interface is due for an upgrade though, as there's no Wii-mote usage or large change at all from Clash of Ninja or Clash of Ninja 2. And with online playing a larger part in Wii's future, we'd expect more than just a few entertaining - but basic - mini-games in Revolution's future.
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