Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4

narutonc4_fob_final.jpg Believe it! There was a time when I was highly versed in the Naruto manga, due to my younger son’s obsessive passion for the stories and characters. I remember the issue of Shonen Jump magazine hailing the new teenaged Naruto would be arriving as the scene of the new series shifted to the Shippuden region. Since then my kids have somewhat drifted away, at least to the point that I’m not constantly inundated with Naruto factoids and had to get more info about the various goings-on in terms of plot and characters.

Naruto Shippuden is the continuation of the Naruto manga wherein the youth with the nine-tail fox sealed within him returns from his two and a half year training away from his friends after Sasuke departs. All of the other original characters are present in the new manga, and everyone is older and more skilled. This opens up a realm of possibilities for more intense combat and more variety of battles between different characters.

So I was immediately disappointed with how much this game was like the earlier Ninja Council games in pretty much every way. Technically I’m not surprised: the graphics and sounds work very nicely for the DS. You run around in real time in an isometric viewed world representing Konoha and other towns from the manga, taking on quests, eating raman, and battling enemies. There is occasional voice acting, but since the first time I played a Naruto game I’ve generally played in silence because the voices replicate those from the anime: annoyingly over the top.

The next disappointment was the story itself – earlier games had issues with trying to cram too much of the manga into a relatively short video game, but they actually felt like they contained passion for the subject material, as if actual choices were made as to what they should include and remove. Here it feels like they just wrapped up a quick story from the beginning of the new Shippuden manga and wrapped it around the same game as before.

The other Ninja Council games were pretty easy for a more seasoned gamer, but were fairly challenging for younger kids. My kids found them pretty easy but fun enough to keep them engaged. When this arrived I gave my younger son the option to play and review, but he kept losing interest in playing and eventually just returned the game to me for good. It wasn’t that it was too hard – quite the opposite: the game was too easy, with nothing about the story or combat to captivate him.

Worse yet, there is very little else to do other than the short single player game – the only other option is a multi-cart versus mode. Given that my kids had no interest in the single player game, I certainly wasn’t going to buy a second copy to see how the competitive game was – it is unfortunate that there was no single cart download play to get the kids enticed and potentially get them more interested in the main game.

As it is, Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4 feels like a sad money grab from little kids who love Naruto and always want whatever is newest from the series. They will undoubtedly sell plenty of copies of this just because of the Naruto name and Shippuden subtitle, which is unfortunate since this is not just a lousy game, it is the worst Naruto game I’ve ever played.

Believe it!

SkipIt.jpg

Pros:
+ First game in the new setting
+ Retells some of the manga
+ Uses same basic systems as before

Cons:
– Very little content
– Unoriginal and boring

Game Info:
Platform: DS
Publisher: TOMY Corporation
Developer: Takara Tomy
Release Date: 6/2/09
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-4

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About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!