Ninjas. From their mysterious powers of stealth through to their undeniable sway with the ladies, Ninja’s are humanity’s ultimate role models. Ninja’s within the video game world have had a pretty good run, Shinobi and the Ninja Gaiden series are just two examples of exemplary ninja adventures; Uzumaki Chronicles follows the exploits of the latest ninja on the block, the anime sensation Naruto and the overall success of the title weighs heavily on how much you enjoy both ninjas and the anime itself.
On the surface, Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles is a fairly straight-forward single-player action/fighting game, similar in vain to Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. You begin the game in Naruto’s home town of Leaf Village and are assigned various missions which are graded in terms of difficulty and are relatively easy to complete initially. These missions are story-driven and mostly involve Naruto doing some task which requires him to go and kick a lot of ass using his super ass-kicking ninja powers.
The main battle sequences rely on a simple number of attack commands. Two buttons are assigned to hand-to-hand attacks, one to a jump/dash and the other to using long range shuriken or throwing knives. Super moves are accessed by using the right shoulder buttons. The combat is relatively easy, mostly due to some mildly retarded AI, and the ease of restoring health means that the game will be completed without too much effort for most modern gamers.
While the mission set-up is supposed to allow gamers the chance to pick and choose what path they take, most of the missions have to be completed for the narrative to move forward anyway, which would get a little too monotonous if it wasn’t for the a amount of customization included to give the game more depth.
The main component of the customization is the skill plate. At the start of the game Naruto begins with a basic skill plate that he can place various types of upgrades upon, as he grows in experience and the game progresses, the skill plate expands and allows more powerful skills to be obtained and used in game. The chips that can be placed within a skill plate come in five main varieties: Taijutsu, ninjutsu, special, limited and extra chips. A lot of the main focus and depth of the game is found in trying to fit in the right combination of chips to make the most powerful version of Naruto possible.
All-in-all the game hits the levels that you would expect from an anime tie-in. Not spectacular in any way, the game is a solid representation of the anime and different enough from the last Naruto game to give fans enough of an excuse to buy it.