Naruto has returned from his tutelage under the Pervy Sage. Newcomers to Naruto might assume that that's a charming Japanese mistranslation - it isn't. Naruto's elderly trainer, Jaraiya, earned his title through a combination of wisdom, and persistently gawping at young girls in the hot springs.
There's a whole Narutopedia out there, but Storm 2 doesn't patronise you with exposition: the mystery and mysticism is only enhanced by the intact Japanese words like Hokage and Kazekage. And, dazzling imagery aside, this isn't an unfamiliar story - it's about a boy who wants to protect the ones he loves.
Naruto Shippuden is essentially a fighting game - the Ultimate Adventure mode is a series of battles that are broken up with a lot of conversation, and even more running around. A familiarity with Naruto may not be essential, but a willingness to become familiar with his world is.
The Ultimate Adventure mode not only retells the epic Shippuden story, it's essential to unlocking the characters in the battle mode.
Ultimate Adventure wears a paper-thin RPG mask, but it's not about improving your character, it's about getting new ones. Some collectibles offer further insight into the story, but most are a time-wasting smokescreen to pad out your travels.
Naruto would seem more comfortable if it just admitted it was a beautiful, shallow fighter and a cartoon series, instead of making you run back and forth, rummaging through bushes for minutes at a time.
True, the combat is breathtaking. People have been saying this since Jet Set Radio, and it's a terrible cliché, but this really is the closest you'll get to feeling like you're part of a cartoon. But it comes with a price: depth.
There's a lot to learn, but it's still the rock-paper-scissors to Street Fighter's chess. And the most dramatic, film-like moments? Naturally, and deflatingly, they're handled with quick-time events.
Naruto has wonderful elements - an otherworldly imagination, a strong story, and a comical cast. It has decent elements, such as the immediately satisfying but shallow combat. And it has disappointing elements, such as the exploration being cramped by being told "that's not the way".
Naruto fans may get enough out of the good parts to forgive the bad - others will find themselves quickly bored.
Would make a better movie than a game
- Utterly outstanding visuals
- A belated, but engaging storyline
- Huge variety of challenges
- Simplistic combat fundamentals
- Weak exploration