I got a chance to play Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm over the weekend, and boy am I hungry! ( I guess that's an inside joke for us Ninja fans.) See, Ninjas love Ramen and will run all over Hidden Leaf Village, jumping, climbing, flying (yep, Naruto can fly!) and searching for the Ultimate: Ramen Ingredients. Ingredients you wouldn't think about when you think about ramen. There are the standards, miso, mushroom, chicken, etc., but then there are the other kinds of ramen that you don't think about, like "Mania Ramen: Special ramen with an obsessive focus on noodles." My favorite, Mineral "Water Ramen: Tasty ramen made with spring water." And when you are Naruto, the newest town Ninja, you think about ramen. And training, a lot of training.
After playing for about 5 hours - 3 really since the game clock doesn't stop when you pause the game - I think the focus of the game is to train and become the Ultimate Ninja. Given that, pretty much all I have done is run around breaking things (for money of course), searching for hidden scrolls (to trade for ninjutsu skills), finding ramen ingredients (for increasing Chakra), and fight training. This sounds like a lot, and it is. Over and over again. After every challenge, you get a chance to run around the city, which is pretty big, and collect the new things that appear. Sometimes this is pretty straightforward, and others it is downright frustrating.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm has balance issues. As far as game play goes, it's okay fun. Graphically it is very pretty. The fighting was the best, with some button mashing and some timing for special moves and each fight has certain criteria that must be met in order to win. It can be challenging at times, and other times you could win while eating your own bowl of ramen. Some of the training missions are really fun. Tree climbing in particular. Running around Hidden Leaf Village collecting scrolls and money will eventually lead to you trading for new moves and upgrading hit points. There are special missions that come from talking to the people who inhabit the town.
That all sounds like a good game right? It would be if this game didn't have one of the worst cameras out there. For the first hour of play, I thought I might get sick. Honest. It's that bad. It pans painfully slow but the tilt is so fast you have to catch your breath. The best part, or the worst, being that you only have to control the camera when you are running around collecting things. Problem is, running around and collecting is what you do most of the time. That's where the balance issue comes in. It's really fun when you are on fight, tree climbing and other training missions, but not so fun the rest of the time.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm releases November 4, 2008 and is rated 'T' for 'teen' due to cartoon violence and mildly suggestive themes. The violence is no worse than what you might see on Pokemon or the Naruto cartoon on the television. The suggestive themes I couldn't find. There are hints at childhood crushes between boys and girls, but that is about the worst of it. My 5-year-old godson loves this game and I can see why. There is a lot to do, and it's very eye-catching graphically. He can run around the city for hours collecting things, eating ramen and going on an occasional mission. On the other hand, I don't know if this game would hold the attention of a teenager. It can be very monotonous at times, and overall, isn't that challenging. I found myself ignoring the collecting and just going for the missions. And one of those missions, is to make myself some ramen, because this game makes me hungry!
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm
Namco Bandai Games America
Release November 4, 2008
Rating: T (teen) for violence and suggestive themes
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm website